Von Battle was a record store owner in the Detroit ghetto, recording local black talent in 1948 and issuing material intermittently on a confusing variety of labels. Artists included himself (backed by two out-of-tune harmonicas, piano and bass), Iverson ‘Louisiana Red’ Minter, L.C. Green and One String Sam. However, Von Battle’s most important recordings were early blues tracks by John Lee Hooker, gospel by Rev. C.L. Franklin and the first recordings of Franklin’s 14-year-old daughter, Aretha Franklin. Like much other material, the Franklin recordings were leased to Chess Records to bring in some cash, as Von Battle operated on a shoestring, which meant poor distribution and often poor sound quality for his own releases which, although sometimes superb, are usually very rare. Modern Records, King Records and Gotham also benefited from Von Battle material. By the 70s he had retired from recording, but was still operating a shop.
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