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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BODDIE RECORDING CO.

BODDIE RECORDING CO.

The BODDIE RECORDING CO., run by Thomas and Louise Boddie, was Cleveland's first African-American owned and operated recording studio, serving a clientele ranging from gospel, soul, and rhythm & blues groups, to rock, bluegrass, and country musicians from as far away as Detroit and West Virginia. Fascinated with Rube Goldberg machines and electronics since his childhood, owner Thomas R. Boddie built his first studio in the basement of his home at 9410 Pierpont Avenue during the 1950s. He used rebuilt or modified recording equipment exclusively, often building components from scratch using schematics loaned to him by his mentor, fellow studio owner Henry C. "Hank" Schneider. His first paying job was recording operatic tenor Jan Peerce who appeared at SEVERANCE HALL as guest of the Jewish Singing Society in 1959. Within a few years Boddie moved to 12202 Union Avenue and installed his studio and, in the 1970s, a record pressing plant in a small building that had once been used as a dairy, located behind his house. Because of their low rates, Boddie Recording attracted hundreds of musicians seeking to make demonstration records to send to labels like Motown Records. They also attracted many bluegrass, country & western, and traveling gospel groups--both white and black--who gave Boddie Recording the nickname, "Little Nashville." For customers who wanted limited runs of 45 rpm records to sell independently, the Boddies also created labels of their own: Plaid, Luau, Bounty, Soul Kitchen, and La Ricky, to name a few. Because they also had a portable setup, the Boddies did a good deal of on-site recording, ranging from funerals and bar mitzvahs, to a performance by popular soul group The O'Jays at LEO'S CASINO. After Cleveland's race riots of the late 1960s, the Boddies lost many of their white customers, now reluctant to go into black neighborhoods. When the oil embargo of the 1970s made it difficult for them to get enough vinyl to press records, the Boddies ground up old records to press new. In the 1980s, the Boddies became more involved in location recording and cassette duplicating, and in the 1990s, video recording of gospel music and religious services. In 2006, co-founder Thomas Boddie died. Boddie Recording Co. closed after his death.


Finding aid for the Boddie Recording Company Records. WRHS.

 

Finding aid for the Boddie Recording Company Photographs. WRHS.