Who Is Jay King?
As a veteran mogul Jay King brings as much humility to the field as he does what has been called his genius. With three decades of continuous achievements in music, management, film/TV/radio, consulting and publishing; King has made an indelible impression. He claims Northern California in general as his hometown due to a nomadic youth spent between many of the Bay Area’s cities; as well as Alaska for birthing his career. There was a deep musical undercurrent added to his early years by a clan which boasted a number of ministers, extending from his great-grandfather through a number of cousins, who all played instruments as well. His great uncle, Saunders King, a respected jazz/blues guitarist, offered the West Coast the first family hit in the 1940’s—‘The S.K. Blues’—adding to the musical backdrop of King’s childhood. Jay King broadened his own talent when he took up the trumpet in his freshman year of high school and when Popping and Breaking became popular; dance soon opened doors to his subsequent career in music.
Joining the Air Force at age 18 landed him in Anchorage, Alaska and despite getting kicked out a year later he remained there and called it home. “Something like that can be a detriment or awe-inspiring. I didn’t let it become a detriment. I thank my mom for this. My mom was a fighter. She had her first baby, my sister, at 15 and me at 17, and was a brilliant woman who graduated Magna Cum Laude. I never met anybody with more heart, gumption and strength, or who had a more profound effect on my life than Helen Bridges, my mom.” Not wanting to return home a failure at 19, King stayed and started a dance group that became successful around the city, opening for every act that came through Anchorage at the time. Having made a name for himself, he returned to Northern California to try his hand as a rapper. Borrowing a reference to the Alaskan ice, he named a group Frost and put out a record entitled ‘The Battle Beat’. Although unsuccessful, it did lead him deeper into music, eventually meeting the members of Timex Social Club.
As his music and connections continued to develop, he found himself writing songs for Con Funk Shun whose members, Michael Cooper and Felton Pilate, encouraged King against the detractors who at the time didn’t like his sound. In 1986, King starting the independent record label JAY Records to release the Timex Social Club hit ‘Rumors’ and ushered in the biggest selling single of 1986 (3.5 million copies) and becoming the #1 R&B single on the Billboard Charts. With a Top 10 single on the Billboard Pop charts for over 56 weeks, King watched his life change as his music became an unprecedented hit. What he’d produced was history-making, as nobody had before taken an R&B song from an indie label to such heights. Although having independently produced, pressed and marketed his own music King was without the money to compete at radio plays and had to be creative with promoting. “There were challenges. You couldn’t reach out to stores, and social media didn’t exist then so you couldn’t let people know with a click of a button that you had something out.You had to get out and hustle. People were making fun of me and laughing because I was out hustling records.” Bypassing traditional methods, King utilized Macola Records because of its position as an indie manufacturer with no association to a major label. Such moves from a 24 year old entrepreneur made the year 1986 even more memorable, as he quickly followed up with a label/production deal with Warner Brother Records and his King Jay Records label, subsequently releasing the first Club Nouveau single ‘Jealousy’ and the album, ‘Life, Love & Pain’. After ‘Jealousy’ went to #8 on the Billboard R&B charts in September of 1986, followed by ‘Situation #9’ (#4 Billboard R&B charts), 1987 came in with an even bigger bang when ‘Lean On Me’ was released in February and became #1 Billboard Pop/#2 Billboard R&B platinum single, winning a Grammy for R&B Song of The Year.
King credits getting his truest understanding of the industry from two men in particular who, while being brilliant in their knowledge of the music business ins and outs, were dealing with drug addictions. Having always abstained from drinking and drugs he nevertheless took notes from these troubled but insightful mentors who became paramount to his growth. King, like all the Club Nouveau members, remained clean and avoided the pitfalls that befell many in the music industry. His focus allowed him to hone his skills for picking and producing talent, prompting another successful move after signing Michael Cooper, New Choice and Cachet Du Vios to his WB/King Jay joint venture. After writing Cooper’s debut album, ‘Love Is Such a Funny Game’, he delivered another hit at #2 on the Billboard R&B charts.
King wasn’t finished with 1987 until he produced Club Nouveau’s single ‘Step By Step’ on Madonna’s ‘Who's That Girl’ multi-platinum soundtrack, while he negotiated a second label/production deal with BMG records, signing three acts. More Midas touch evidence emerged when Theresa King’s first single, ‘Last Time’ (written and produced by King on the ‘Broken Puzzle’ album), went to #15 on the Billboard R&B charts.
1988 met with him releasing a second Club Nouveau album, the critically acclaimed ‘Listen To The Message’ album with ‘It's A Cold, Cold World’, written and produced by King, going to #25 on the Billboard R&B charts. He also handled management of careers such as Chante Moore’s (securing her deal with Warner Brothers Records) while producing the first Vanilla Ice record, as well as a deal with EMI on artist Miki Bleu. More Billboard hits followed in 1989 after the release of Club Nouveau’s ‘Under a Nouveau Groove’ album, with the single ‘You Ain't No Friend of Mine’ landing at #12 on the Billboard R&B charts. King entered the 90’s with four songs on the multi-platinum Vanilla Ice CD as a publisher & production company.
As his reputation and savvy grew, King entered the new decade by negotiating a fresh deal for Club Nouveau with Quality Records and a joint venture with JVK Records. He also set up an independent label coalition to manage, oversee and negotiate all aspects of business for independent labels. Notable labels and artists include: YoungBlackBrother Records (Mac Mall), Psychotic Records (Rodney O & Joe Cooley), Rip It Records (69 Boyz), Outburst Records (Domino), Morning Crew Records (Gary Taylor). For several years, King was at the nucleus of major negotiated deals for musicians and eventually by 1998 had parlayed distribution with Lightyear/WEA Home Video.
That same year he executive produced, music supervised and independently distributed via movie theaters the film ‘Love Beat the Hell Outta Me’, starring Glen Plummer and Terrence Howard. In 1999, King took time off to raise his son and micro-focused on being a father, not resuming any new projects until 2003 when he became VP/Director of Thump Classic R&B division. Creating the division from scratch, he personally signed each act to the label, including Michael Cooper, Bootsy Collins, The Emotions, Club Nouveau, Ready For The World, and Gary Taylor. By 2005, King broadened his scope when he created and directed the Professional Domino Association, which paid the biggest cash prizes in the history of the game.
This led to a deal with ESPN to televise domino tournaments, adding Domino’s Pizza, Pit Bull Energy Drink, and Fundex games as sponsors and co-branding partners. King also took time in 2007 to consult, negotiate and develop a V.O.D deal between Polychrome Pictures and Code Black Films. The Jay King Network (JKN) an online radio platform was launched in 2009. The network has grown to 9 hours a day live radio – 7 days a week and is presented by more than 20 different show hosts.
In addition to running a network and label, King is currently managing such notable talent as Cameo (Word Up, Candy, Shake Your Pants), Larry Dunn (Earth Wind & Fire), Kathy Sledge (Lead vocalist Sister Sledge) and Karyn White (Super Woman, The Way You Love Me), (creating White’s KWE and negotiating distribution deals in the U.S., Japan and South Africa so far). As of late King has written a book series entitled ‘Passport to the Music Business’—publications that simplify the music business for laymen. Broken into categories, each book is specific to a subject such as: ‘Everything Distribution’, ‘Everything Publishing’ and soon to be released – ‘Everything Royalties’. He is presently working doing performance dates promoting the new Club Nouveau ‘Consciousness’ album released July 2015.
Jay King continues to do his morning radio talk show "kings in the morning" (4 years running) Monday thru Friday from 8 to 10am pst at www.thejaykingnetwork.com, he's also an on air radio personality doing a drive time radio show playing classic R&B music at 97.5fm a terrestrial radio station in Sacramento Tuesday thru Thursday 3-7pm pst it can also be heard at www.kdeefm.org. If this isn't enough Jay King is completing his second solo CD Helen’s Son to be released in the spring of 2016.
Jay King acts as Manager/Booking Agent for Karyn, White, Cameo, Club Nouveau and Larry Dunn.
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