• Specialty Records was started by Art Rupe in Los Angeles, California in 1944. The original address of the company was 2719 West Seventh St., but it was also located at 311 Venice Blvd. in the early years. In 1949 the company moved to the more familiar address of 8508 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. Specialty was very selective in what it recorded; jazz, rhythm & blues, gospel, and rock & roll were about all that was released on the label. (source: www.bsnpubs.com)
  • Specialty was the parent label of Fidelity.
  • Specialty 78rpm records first had black labels, than yellow and finally they featured the famous black and white labels with yellow lettering. Some early black or yellow label issues were later released with the black & white labels.
  • Specialty 45s (yellow/white) were originally released with black, double wavy lines. Late 1957, probably starting with number 907, the design changed and featured a solid black line. Some 45s that were released with double wavy lines first were reissued with a solid black line later on (probably in the 1960’s).
  • In the early 1970’s (maybe starting in 1969?) Specialty re-released several 45’s, mentioning the LP, where the tracks were taken from, on the labels. These LP’s (#2115 and onwards) are compilations of 1950’s recordings and also featured several previously unreleased tracks.
  • In the early 1970’s Specialty also released some new 45s (#920-934), mostly containing 1950’s recordings. Specialty 933 by the Melody Kings is probably the only 45 in this series that featured new recordings.
  • Specialty released both gospel and secular material in the 300 series; the 800 and 900 series were gospel only.
  • The Original Blind Boys of Alabama were listed as the ‘Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama’ and the ‘Happyland Singers’ on almost all of their releases (45’s and 78’s). Given in the column artist as shown is the name shown as their main name, which varies.
  • Specialty 919 is the last original Specialty single, from 1959. The series continued (with #920) in 1971.
  • Specialty 934 (Pilgrim Travelers) is a reissue of Specialty 856 and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” on these issues was first released on Specialty 837.
  • Specialty originally released some fifteen LP’s only; twelve in their 2100 (main) series and three in their 5000 series (jazz). In 1968, eight years later, Specialty continued their 2100 series which ran into the 1980’s. The majority of these releases came out in the 1970’s.
  • The original LP label lay-out was black and gold and was probably used until #2152. From #2153 onwards the label was black and white with ‘Specialty’ in yellow, just like most of the 78rpm issues. Earlier LP numbers with the black and white labels are reissues.
  • Volume 1 of “How It All Began” (Specialty LP 2117) features gospel and r&b artists, volume 2 (LP 2118) did not feature any gospel artists.
  • Side one of Specialty LP 2119 (“The 2 Sides of Sam Cooke”) features gospel recordings of Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers. Side two contains secular recordings by Sam Cooke.
  • Original copies of Specialty LP 2121 (Pilgrim Travelers) do not mention “Vol. 1”, which is printed on the front cover of the reissues.
  • Click here for a photograph of the Five Blind Boys of Alabama.
  • Click here for a photograph of the Pilgrim Travelers.
  • Click here for a photograph of the Chosen Gospel Singers.
  • This discography lists all gospel issues on Specialty (78’s, 45’s, LP’s) from 1948 to the early 1970’s.


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