Sol Rabinowitz

Biography by

Sol Rabinowitz was the founder of the New York City-based R&B label Baton Records, home to doo wop hitmakers including the Rivileers and the Hearts. Rabinowitz began his music career as a salesman with…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

Sol Rabinowitz was the founder of the New York City-based R&B label Baton Records, home to doo wop hitmakers including the Rivileers and the Hearts. Rabinowitz began his music career as a salesman with Malverne, the New York distribution arm of Mercury Records. When rival Cosnat Distributors scored with Jubilee Records, Rabinowitz was assigned to launch a Malverne-backed label of his own. He began scouting local talent, and while visiting the Triboro Record Shop in Queens he was pointed in the direction of the Rivileers, a Jamaica quintet whose demo rendition of "A Thousand Stars" was on file at the store. After re-recording the track with professional session players, Rabinowitz supplied the acetate to WWRL disc jockey Tommy "Dr. Jive" Smalls, who played the disc twice that same evening to rapturous listener response. Around the same time, Malverne pulled out of the deal, but Rabinowitz forged on, convinced "A Thousand Stars" was a hit. Dubbing the enterprise Baton, he leased office space and cut a distribution deal with Los Angeles-based Central Record Sales. Issued in early 1954, "A Thousand Stars" proved a massive hit in both New York and L.A., but distribution in between was spotty, and the record never caught on nationwide. Singles by Buddy Tate and Milan Brown followed, and at year's end the Rivileers notched another minor hit with their rendition of the perennial "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons." In early 1955, Baton also scored with the Hearts' "Lonely Lights," a staple of DJ Alan Freed's WINS playlist. Other notable Baton releases included Ann Cole's "In the Chapel," the Fidelitys' "The Things I Love," and Noble "Thin Man" Watts' "Hard Times." In the spring of 1959, Rabinowitz shuttered the label in the face of mounting financial troubles, and a subsequent venture, SIR Records, barely lasted a year.