Virginia is rich in music history and influences. Many of the people from this area have impacted music worldwide. This site celebrates and honors a long tradition of musical pioneers; including the artists, musicians, promoters, DJs, personality jocks, songwriters, producers, and other recording industry members, like the owners and staffs of recording studios, radio stations, record shops, and record labels in this area and beyond.
Some are famous, some are infamous, some are almost forgotten, but all have made a major impact on generations of music lovers around the world. With the spirit of Joe Medlin looking on, we dedicate this site to them.
Don't forget to check out some of the other pages. Just click one of the buttons to the left, or try the links on the bottom of the page. Surprises on every page.
Discover Joe Medlin
Virginia's Music Soul
Music Industry Giants
Joe Medlin, Billy Eckstine, Richard "Dick" Hawkins
Joe Medlin was the man. His impact in the industry is far reaching--not bad for a Norfolk man. He influenced singers as well as record promoters because in both of those careers he excelled.
Joe had a good solo career as an artist as well as singing with Big Bands and doing Doo Wop. Joe sung with the world renown and highly influential group, The Ravens.
Back in 1948, Joe was recording with the Tab Smith Orchestra:
If I Give You My Love
What More Can A Poor Fellow Do?
Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered
I'm Glad For Your Sake
Joe was also singing with the Ravens in the fall of 1948--a busy man.
Other vocalists were paying attention to Mr. Medlin, influential vocalists like Little Jimmy Scott noted Joe Medlin as one of his influences, along with singers like Herb Jeffries, Billy Eckstine, Billie Holiday, and another Hampton Roads singer, Ella Fitzgerald.
Joe Medlin recorded and released such songs as:
I Kneel At Your Throne
After All I've Been To You
You Ran Away With My Heart
Lord Knows I've Tried
Without Your Love
I'm Glad For Your Sake - Joe Medlin And Three Riffs - Atlantic
Medlin also appeared on some big bills with some big acts. For example:
March 27, 1959, the Alan Freed's Easter Show at the Fabian-Fox Theater in Brooklyn. Fats Domino, Jackie Wilson, the Cadillacs, the Impalas, Joe Medlin, Bobby Darin, Fabian, Duane Eddy, Dale Hawkins, the Mellokings, the Skyliners, Thomas Wayne, Larry Williams, Bobby Freeman, Jo Ann Campbell, and Jimmy Clanton.
Later that year --May 22, 1959 the Jocko Rocket Ship Show at the Apollo Theater in New York, with artists including Bo Didley, Jesse Belvin, The Cadillacs, Dave "Baby" Cortez, Bobby Day, The Fiestas, The Heartbeats, The Shirelles and The Spaniels.
Joe worked at various labels as an artist and as producer. Labels which included Decca, Brunswick, and Mercury.
One of the artists Joe Medlin produced, is the enigmatic Debbie Taylor, another artists with roots in the Hampton Roads/Tidewater area, once living in the Liberty Park section of Norfolk. The daughter of a minister, she sang with the Robert A. Bady Gospel Singers, while attending Booker T. Washington High School. Debbie (Maddie Bell Gavlin) was over at ShiptownRecords before she went on to Decca and Arista. Now that's one of those great music connections which reached all over the world from right here.
"Check yourself" (David Porter, Isaac Hayes) / "Wait until I'm gone" (Willa Dean Parker, Henderson Thigpen). Produced by Joe Medlin
Eventually, Joe Medlin transferred his drive, determination, skills, experience, knowledge, and music passion to the record promotion aspect of the business. Stax and Atlantic were beneficiaries of Medlin’s talents. Dave Clark led Joe Medlin into record promotions, breaking the color line, and Joe in turn brought in others, like Al Bell and Charlie Adel. The list of black record promoters got longer and longer and Joe Medlin was a mentor to many of them.
In 1962, Joe Medlin found his way into working for United Artists Records as the A&R man. At Decca, Medlin became the first Black VP of a major record label. Joe also worked at Philadelphia International, Polydor, and Spring records.
Norfolk's Mayor Vincent Thomas declared November 2, 1980 as Joe Medlin Day to honor and celebrate Medlin's contributions to the music industry. An event was held at the main ballroom in the then Holiday Inn Scope with proceeds from the dinner and dance going to establish a scholarship fund at Norfolk State in Joe Medlin's name.
Joe Medlin, missed by many. He influenced many more.