Harlem music legend Bobby Robinson reportedly passed away late last week at the age of 93 and left a legacy behind which included being the first man of color with his own record shop in his hometown.
Robinson’s death reportedly became publicized last Friday, January 7th.
The owner of Bobby’s Happy House, who was responsible for several number one hits, was 93. He had been ill for several years, reported the Daily News. He had owned Bobby’s Happy House from 1946 until it was forced to close in 2008. (DNA Info)
The late music legend helped support the careers of hip-hop legends Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five.
Launched in the early 1960s from Robinson’s Bobby’s Happy House, Enjoy Records released early singles from the likes of Spoonie Gee, Treacherous Three, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five and more. While Robinson maintained other labels such as Fire, Fury and Front Page Records, Enjoy is known for being an early home to hip-hop albums. Catalog hits include The Furious Five’s “Superrappin’,” The Treacherous Three’s “Feel The Heartbeat” and The Fearless Four’s “Rockin’ It,” which reached younger generations through Jay-Z‘s 1997 hit “Sunshine.” Robinson was credited as the producer for the original. (Hip Hop DX)
His Harlem record shop was forced to shut down three years ago.
Robinson eventually had to move the shop around the corner in the late 1990s, and he closed for good on Jan. 21, 2008, when his new landlord decided to raze the building for a development. “I’ve seen 125th St. at its best and worst,” Robinson said in late 2007. “And I’ll tell you, there’s no more exciting place in the world.” (New York Daily News)
According to reports, Robinson was a World War II veteran who invested into the music business shortly afterward.
During World War II, Robinson was an Army corporal stationed in Hawaii. Nominally, he was in charge of coordinating entertainment for soldiers awaiting to be shipped off to battle in the Pacific, hiring big bands, singers and even a one-legged tap dancer. Bobby Robinson, his ear for music, and his savings survived the trip, and in 1946, he became the first colored man to open his own shop on 125th Street. He called it “Bobby’s Happy House,” a record store he funded with $2500 of his wartime stash. In the 1950s, Bobby became one of the first Harlem entrepreneurs to seize on the doo-wop street culture, forming labels like Red Robin and Whirlin’ Disc. In the 1960s, he discovered Gladys Knight & The Pips and produced the first hits by King Curtis on a new label called Enjoy. (MOG News)
Check out Bobby Robinson & Doug E. Fresh’s “Just Having Fun” down below: