George Khoury

Biography by

b. c.1909, USA, d. 8 January 1998, USA. A successful businessman of Turkish stock, Khoury owned a record store in Lake Charles, Louisiana. In 1949, noting that Cajun music was poorly represented on record,…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

b. c.1909, USA, d. 8 January 1998, USA. A successful businessman of Turkish stock, Khoury owned a record store in Lake Charles, Louisiana. In 1949, noting that Cajun music was poorly represented on record, he funded some record sessions. One of the first artists Khoury financed was Nathan Abshire, whose ‘Crying Pinegrove Blues’ sold very well indeed and prompted the entrepreneur to keep on recording. He formed his own record company, although he never had his own studio; instead he rented studios, sometimes as far away as Houston, Texas, and pressings were made even further away, in California. In the latter case, some of Khoury’s masters were destroyed when fire swept the California factory. Into the mid-50s, his labels, Khoury’s and Lyric, featured Cajun performers whose work might otherwise have drifted even deeper into the obscurity that surrounded them. Among the artists linked to Khoury was accordion master Lawrence Walker, who set down ‘Reno Waltz’, ‘Evangeline Waltz’, ‘Shamrock Waltz’ and ‘La Valse De Holly Beach’. Others included Harry Choates (‘Valse De Lake Charles’ and ‘Jole Blon’s Gone’), Floyd LeBlanc (‘Orphan Waltz’), Mickey Gilley, Lil Alfred, and Jimmy C. Newman (‘Cry, Cry Darling’).

Especially successful for Khoury were Huey Thierry (as Cookie And The Cupcakes) and John Phillip Baptiste (as Phil Phillips). Thierry recorded ‘Mathilda’ for the Khoury’s label, a song on which Thierry and Khoury took co-composing credits. The song was covered often in later years by artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis. Khoury collaborated with Phillips in writing the song ‘Sea Of Love’, which was recorded by Phillips in 1959, backed by Thierry’s band. Produced by Eddie Shuler, a friend, neighbour and owner of Goldband Records, but released on Khoury’s, the song caught on. The recording was leased to Mercury Records and went to number 2 on the Billboard charts. The song was covered in the early 80s by the Honeydrippers, a release that was used on the soundtrack of the film Sea Of Love (1989) and in the 90s it was backing to a Chanel perfume advertising campaign. Among other songs credited to Khoury is ‘La Valse De Bon Baurche’ (also known as ‘La Valse Du Bambocheur’ and ‘Drunkard’s Sorrow Waltz’), which was recorded by Elise Deshotel And His Louisiana Rhythmaires on the Khoury’s label in 1952. In this band was the then relatively unknown singer and fiddler Dewey Balfa (of the Balfa Brothers).