|Founder Gordon Keith||Founded 1966|
Steeltown Records was an American record company in Gary, Indiana. The company was founded in 1966, by William Adams (a.k.a. Gordon Keith), Ben Brown (deceased), Maurice Rogers, Willie Spencer (deceased), and Lou "Ludie" D. Washington (deceased). Each Steeltown co-owner individually discovered, signed, and took the responsibility and any profit for each signed individual or group, using Steeltown Records (Steeltown label) as an umbrella to promote name recognition. The record company was mostly active from 1966 to 1972.
"Steeltown" is best known as the label of the first Jackson 5 records released in early 1968, before Motown signed the group in 1969. Two Jackson 5 singles were recorded and produced in a South Chicago recording studio by Keith who signed "The Jackson Five" to a separate six-month contract with him in November 1967 — "Big Boy"/"You Changed" and "We Don't Have To Be Over 21 (to Fall in Love)"/"Some Girls Want Me For Their Lover". "Big Boy", the first song sung by Michael Jackson, was released by Keith on January 31, 1968, and became a local radio hit. In March 1968, Keith made a contract with Atlantic Records to distribute "Big Boy" nationally. Atlantic Records/Atco in New York City distributed several thousand copies of "Big Boy" with the Steeltown label and many are still in existence, as are the preceding versions distributed by Keith in Gary. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum owns a copy of one of the original "Big Boy" records (Steeltown, #681), and this 45 record was on display there in 2010.
The Jacksons moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1969. Brown also moved there and became the president of Jackson Records partnering with Joe Jackson, the father of The Jackson 5. In January 2015, Brown's son Dwayne Joseph Brown and his son's business partner, Alicia Barber (songwriter and author whom wrote "Born Rejected"), came together to launch SteelTown Los Angeles.