The Legendary Don Robey

By: Chelsea Davis-Bibb, Ed.D.

Many people have heard of Motown Records founded by Berry Gordy, Roc Nation Records created by Jay-Z, or even Young Money Records created by Lil Wayne. These are just a few successful record companies who stand on the foundation of those who have come before them. However, there was one Houston businessman by the name of Don Robey, who was the founder of Peacock Records.

Don Robey was born on November 1, 1903, in Houston, Texas to a white mother and a black father. Research noted that he lived on a cotton farm with his mother during some of his teenage years and was a laborer who worked on the docks in Galveston.

It was his love for music that allowed him to establish multiple music businesses as well as other business ventures. Over the course of his life, he made many business connections that would set him apart from others. Although he had a love for gambling and questionable business tactics, overall, Robey was a successful businessman.

He spent majority of his life in Houston, but at one time he lived in Los Angeles, California for three years. During those years in the late 1930s, he operated a nightclub called The Harlem Grill, and even owned a handful of restaurants and nightclubs. Over the years, Robey made many partnerships including a partnership with Morris Merritt. Through this union they were unstoppable in promotion and management, bringing in “top-flight big band entertainment.”

In Houston, he opened a successful restaurant called the Peacock Dinner Club in 1945 and allowed elite jazz bands and different orchestras to play. From that business venture, he expanded and opened Peacock Records, which was named after his nightclub in 1949. Robey was able to add a phenomenal line of talent to his record label which included, Marie Adams, Floyd Dixon, Memphis Slim, and Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, “whose 1953 recording of “Hound Dog” was later imitated by Elvis Presley.” Shortly after, Robey was able to form a partnership with owners David J. Mattis and Bill Fitzgerald of Duke Records in 1952, and later became the sole owner of Duke Records, which expanded his company to Duke and Peacock Records. As the owner of Duke Records, he gained the recording rights of Johnny Ace, Junior Parker, Roscoe Gordon, and Bobby “Blue” Band. He then formed Back Seat, a subsidiary label in 1957, which grew into a soul music label in the 1960’s. The success of these artists grew the business, and at one point, Don Robey had one of the “most successful black owned record business in America.”

On top of the success he already acquired, Robey launched a gospel division under Peacock Records with different artist, and even added a second gospel label called Songbird in 1963. Robey was also known at one point as the leading gospel company in the United States. At the highest peak of his career, he had over a hundred artists and groups signed to his various labels.

In the mid-1960’s, business declined for Robey, and on May 23,1973, he sold Duke and Peacock Records and his subsidiary labels to ABC-Dunhil. He signed an agreement with ABC-Dunhil stating that he would stay on as a consultant. Two years later, he died from a heart attack on June 16,1975. Although he is long gone, his legacy will remain through the work he did and the difference he made in the entertainment industry.

Latest Articles


Search our archive of past issues Receive our Latest Updates
* indicates required

October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

Scroll to Top