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ROY RIFKIND,
1927-2022

Roy Rifkind, who co-founded and ran the R&B label Spring Records with his brother Julie, died Monday at his home in Boca Raton, Fla. He was 94.

In the 1970s Spring was home to Joe Simon and Millie Jackson. It also released one of the first rap records, Fatback’s 1979 “King Tim III (Personality Jock).”

Prior to getting into the label business, the Rifkind brothers and Atlantic/MGM promo man Bill Spitalsky owned a management company, Guardian Productions, with a client roster that included The Shirelles, Eddie Fisher, Flip Wilson and Little Eva. The brothers had initially handled the artists who played in the New York City clubs owned by their father.

Spring Records was launched in 1970, with Spitalsky heading promotion, Julie—formerly chief of MGM Records—as president and Roy running Guardian. Originally distributed by Polydor, the label's first signings were James Brown, at the start of his lengthy association with Polydor, Simon, Jackson and Isaac Hayes.

Spring and its subsidiaries Posse and Event had hits with Simon’s "Drowning in the Sea of Love," Jackson’s "If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Wanna Be Right)" and Jocelyn Brown’s "Too Through." The Fatback Band’s "King Tim III (Personality Jock)" is often cited as the first hip-hop record to land on the pop chart.

After ending its relationship with Polydor in 1983, the label continued as an independent for a decade.

Julie Rifkind died in 2014. Roy Rifkind is survived by his wife, Stacy Rifkind, two sons, drummer/label executive Randy Roberts and music attorney Jaimie Roberts, and four grandchildren. Daughter Debby Grandis was head of publicity at Spring. Roy's nephew Steve Rifkind founded hip-hop label Loud Records (Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Three 6 Mafia).

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