Arthur Rupe, founder of Specialty Records, dies at 104

Music executive Arthur N. Rupe has passed away at the age of 104, ABC News reports

Rupe’s death was announced by the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation.

The foundation reports that Rupe died on Friday, April 15, at his home in Santa Barba, California.

The foundation did not provide a cause of death.

Remembering Rupe

Rupe, whose birth name was Arthur N. Goldberg, was born to a Jewish working-class family in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. But, he grew up in McKeesport, which is located in the Pittsburgh area. This is where he first developed his passion for Black music as he used to listen to singers at a nearby Baptist church.

In 1939, before finishing his university education, Rupe set off for Los Angeles, California, looking to make a name for himself. During the Second World War, he worked as part of an engineering crew that tested ships. Realizing that with the end of the war he would need a new job, Rupe decided that he would become a record producer specializing in so-called race records.

In 1944, Rupe formed Juke Box Records, which had some success. And, by 1946, he, once again, set out on his own to launch Specialty Records. And, it is the success that he had with this label, particularly over the next decade and a half, that Rupe is most known for.

Specialty Records, over the years, featured artists including Roy Milton, Lloyd Price, Sam Cooke, and Little Richard, the latter of whom was Rupe’s biggest success. It was during this same period that Rupe helped to develop Rock ‘n’ Roll music, which at the time was a new genre.

Rupe would later be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame as well as the Blues Hall of Fame.

After music

Rupe eventually grew frustrated with the music business and he decided to move on. In the 1990s, he even sold Specialty Records to Fantasy Records.

Rupe was able to continue making money, though, through the oil and gas investments that he had previously made. And, it was during his final years that he led the Art N. Rupe Foundation, which supported education and research with the goal of shining “the light of truth on critical and controversial issues.”

Rupe is survived by Beverly Rupe Schwarz, his daughter, Leo Schwarz, his son-in-law, Madelin Kahan, his granddaughter, and Kyle Kahan, his grandson-in-law.

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