Between about 1948 and 1958, John Dolphin owned and operated Dolphin’s of Hollywood Record Shop in South L.A., most famously near the corner of Vernon and Central Ave. From the early 1950s to his death, he also operated a variety of local labels like Recorded In Hollywood, Lucky, Money and Cash, one which he recorded a host of local r&b, blues, jazz and even western music talent.
While recording for Dolphin, who was well known for making promises of rich payouts, only to forget to pay modest session scale to studio players, Rudy Ray Moore took on assistant duties, becoming his driver and picking up records for the store in ‘58 and ’59.
According to the L.A. Times, John Dolphin, 42 of 3918 Edgehill Dr. was murdered behind the desk of his office at 1252 S. Berendo St., Hollywood, on Feb 1, 1958 by frustrated singer Percy Ivy, 26, a shipping clerk who lived at 1124 W. 45th St. Teenaged songwriter and piano player Bruce Johnston witnessed the murder at Dolphin’s office in Hollywood. With him were musicians Dave Shostac, 16, of 10304 La Grange Ave. and drummer Sandy Nelson, both of whom were waiting with Ivy outside of Dolphin’s office for the man to arrive. “Ivy said he submitted four songs to Dolphin three or four weeks ago, but failed to collect a promised payment of $250 each.” One of the songs was “You’re Going Away.”
Ivy stated he “reached for the gun,” a 32-caliber Italian automatic, “when Dolphin pulled out a switch blade knife.” Ivy fired five or six shots at a close range. “Ivy let us in,” said Johnston. “He argued with Dolphin, then pulled out a gun and shot John, who landed on a heater.
Sandy Nelson was drinking a soft drink and when he ran out of the office to get some help, it was fizzing all over the place.” Shostac was grazed in the leg by a ricocheting bullet. Nelson recalled that when he returned with the police to Dolphin’s office, Johnston was making a deal with Ivy to have some songs recorded when he got released from prison.
“John Dolphin got killed on a humbug, he had nothing coming,” said Moore. “John sent Percy Ivy to Austin McCoy to make these dubs, John paid for these dubs. He brought these dubs to John and Percy Ivy wanted the dubs back.”
Upon his release from prison, Ivy went to work for Allied Pressing. Ruth Dolphin, who had arrived in L.A. in 1946, marrying John G. Dolphin in 1948, took over ownership, though Moore became the day-to-day proprietor. “I took over in ‘59, started working for his wife, run his store until 1970.”
Dolphin’s death meant the end of Cash, so in 1959, Moore issued all of his releases on the newly created Ball label.