Finding aid for the Boddie Recording Company Records

Repository: Western Reserve Historical Society
Creator: Boddie Recording Company
Title: Boddie Recording Company Records
Dates: 1952-1991
Extent: 2.00 linear feet (2 containers)
Abstract: The Boddie Recording Company (1958-1993) was the first recording studio in Cleveland, Ohio, owned by African-Americans. Thomas Boddie (d. 2006) created all his recording equipment by hand rather than purchasing pre-made machines, and he pressed his own vinyl records. This allowed him to hold down costs, thus attracting a wide range of clientele in need of demonstration records and small runs of 45 rpm records. His clientele included musicians of various styles, including gospel, country, bluegrass, rock, soul, and rhythm and blues, earning the studio the nickname of "Little Nashville". Records were made for national distribution as well as for independent groups and artists who only wished to have their music recorded for personal use or local distribution, such as recordings of sermons for church groups, with Boddie creating small, independent record labels for the purpose. Thomas Boddie began his interest in sound systems and recordings as a teenager in his home on Kinsman Ave. in Cleveland in the 1940s. Though talented and educated in the fields of sound and electrical engineering, he had difficulty finding work due to his race. He first found employment as an organ repairman, then at Wright-Patterson Air Base. After serving in the army during World War II, Boddie returned to Cleveland and began building the pieces of what would eventually become a full-fledged recording studio, designing and modifying equipment while working as a repairman. The studio survived through small business loans, Thomas's ability to save money through hard work and perseverance, and the consistent assistance of his wife Louise. He and his wife laid the concrete themselves for an addition to their house to form a record pressing plant, and he built an 8-track recording machine for about 15% of the cost of a new one. The Boddies traveled to various locations with their equipment to record groups and individuals on-site, quickly making multiple cassette recordings to sell after the event. When he discovered true potential talent, he would send recordings to Motown, where the artist had a better chance of becoming known, as the Boddie Recording Company did not have the sponsorship of large advertisers that Motown had. Thomas Boddie died in 2006. In 2009, the Numero Group purchased the large number of recordings made at the Boddie Recording Company, with many of the recordings scheduled to be released in late 2011. The collection consists of advertisements, booklets, business cards, contracts, correspondence, flyers, legal documents, miscellaneous notes, newspaper clippings, programs, receipts, sample 45rpm record designs, schematics, and transparencies.
MS Number MS 5090
Location: closed stacks
Language: The records are in English