John Rhys: Creator Of Bluepower.com
By: Doug Deutsch
Photo provided by: John Siskin
Van Nuys resident John Rhys, a music producer and host of the 'Bluepower' radio
program, was inducted into the Southern Legends Entertainment Performing Arts
Hall of Fame in 2005.
At various times a producer, songwriter, musician, promoter and currently webmaster,
Rhys has worked with some of the most hallowed names in the business in a career
spanning almost a half-century. At present, Rhys is the host and creator of
Bluepower.com, a primarily blues music Web site he created in 1994 that has recently
averaged approximately 30,000 hits per day.
Walter Trout, John Mayall, Ike Turner, Terry Evans and Teresa Russell are but as
few of the music greats Rhys has interviewed, or had play live, at his Van Nuys recording
studio/Bluepower.com home base.
Rhys first broke into the music business when he performed (played rhythm guitar) at the
first-ever "Big Ape" Gator Bowl Concert at the tender age of eighteen with now-
legends Brenda Lee, Jimmy Clanton, Charlie Rich, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy
Rhys’ extensive record promotion work began a year later, working with Joe Galkin in
Atlanta on acts from major labels Columbia, Atlantic, Ace and Roulette, to name a few.
During that time, Rhys met two of the biggest names in the industry: Atlantic's Jerry
Wexler and Roulette's Morris Levy. At the same time, Rhys worked nights at NRC
Studios where he made records with the likes of Joe South, The Tams, Tommy Roe,
Ray Stevens and Jerry Reed.
In 1962, John was hired by Georgia Record Distributors in Atlanta, owned by
Mercury Records. He then was handling record promotion for the entire state of
By 1963, Rhys was in charge of the entire Southeast region (eight states) for Mercury.
One year later, Rhys won the coveted Bill Gavin Award for "Best Promo Man." From
there, Rhys was hired by Merit Music Distributors in Detroit, working with A&M (who
had a hit with The Lonely Bull), Hickory ( I Like Bread & Butter), Monument, Red
Bird ( Chapel Of Love and The Boy From New York City) and Soul/VIP (The
Rhys' fortunes continued to escalate; he was hired by Golden World Records as a
producer/engineer and was involved with recordings by Edwin Starr, The Holidays,
Gino Washington, The Reflections and The Shades of Blue.
Rhys joined up with Harry Balk (producer of Del Shannon, Johnny and the
Hurricanes, Don and Juan and Little Willie John) to form the Impact label in 1966. In
May of that year, he released Oh, How Happy by the Shades of Blue, which immediately
shot up to No. 1 over most of the East Coast and ended up charting No. 7 on Cashbox
and No. 12 on Billboard.
Rhys produced many songs that, while not charting in the U.S., became hits in England's
fledgling "Northern Soul" scene. One such song was Time Will Pass You By, written by
Rhys, Nick Zesses and Dino Fekaris that charted No. 14 on the N.S. play lists.
Hollywood beckoned and Rhys followed its calling, arriving in the West Coast at the
famed Capitol Records building in 1968, where he signed to be an independent record
producer. During his association with Capitol, John produced The SRC, The
Corporation, and The Pack. The latter went on to become known as Grand Funk
Railroad, the superstar band of We're An American Band renown. Rhys produced the
first four cuts on the Thirty Years of Funk CD released by Capitol.
In 1971 Rhys made a deal with Jack Lees of Hollywood Central Recording Studios,
opening for business in 1973. A year later, at Hollywood Central, John recorded
legendary singer/songwriter/pianist, Warren Zevon, as well as the controversial comedy
duo, Franken and Davis. In 1976, Rhys met Amanda McBroom, signing her as a writer
to his own Hollywood All Star Music company. A year later, McBroom wrote The Rose
- made into a hit by Bette Midler and taken by 20th Century Fox Films and used in a
movie of the same name, in 1978. Also that year, John engineered Brenda Russell's first
album for A&M Records, spawning the single, "So Good, So Right."
In 1979, Rhys went to Japan to record and produce that country's No. 1 artist, Chiharu
Matsuyama. While there, John produced seven Number One LP's for Matsuyama,
selling approximately 12 million albums in the process!
Continuing his success in the Land of the Rising Sun, Rhys signed a contract in 1980 to
produce commercials for Dentsu, Japan's largest commercial agency at the time. John
produced 340 commercials for Dentsu during that time. Rhys opened Hollywood
Central 2 in 1982 and worked with acts including Lowell Fulson, The Gap Band, Ry
Cooder, Evans and King, Southern Comfort and Harry Nilsson. John sold his two
Hollywood Central Studios in 1986, after which time he briefly retired for a while.
When the music bug once again bit, Rhys went to work for respected industry Cash Box
magazine in 1994, becoming the Hollywood-based publications' Blues Editor and
working there until 1996 when owner George Albert passed away. That same year, Rhys
launched Bluepower.com., which has continued to grow and prosper to the present and
now includes live performances as well as "podcasts."
Last October, Rhys was inducted into the Southern Legends Entertainment and
Performing Arts Hall of Fame for "lifetime promotion, contribution, and indelible
goodwill to Southern original music and its heritage," as the plaque reads.