- Ian Brookes
Record label. The company was established by Lew Chudd in 1946 in Los Angeles, where it originally issued records aimed at the local Mexican American market. With the New Orleans bandleader and arranger Dave Bartholomew as the company’s A&R man, Chudd extended Imperial’s reach into the emergent rhythm and blues market. Their first major signing was the New Orleans pianist and singer Fats Domino. Between 1949 and 1962, Domino had a string of hit records with Imperial beginning with “The Fat Man” (1949) which was a hit on Billboard’s R&B chart. Domino also began to achieve increasing crossover success for the small, independent label. His biggest hit, “Blueberry Hill” (1956), reached no.1 on the R&B chart and no.2 on the Hot 100. Imperial was the first label to promote the New Orleans R&B scene and, with the success of Domino, several others signings followed: Roy Brown, Smiley Lewis, Tommy Ridgely, and The Spiders. In ...