Billy Miller first encountered Miriam Linna while she was drumming for The
In 1986, when the couple published an article in Kicks about West Virginia guitarist Hasil Adkins, the response was so intense that Linna and Miller decided to form a record label to reissue his music. They named their company after Ed Norton, Art Carney's character on The Honeymooners. Adkins had recorded about 15 singles in the 1950s, but many had never been released or collected on an LP. "We made 500 copies and prayed that it would sell," recalled Linna.
Along with previously unreleased discoveries, Linna and Miller have successfully reissued many other obscurities and classics from the 1950s and 1960s, and their extensive catalog also includes current talents:
Their El Paso Rock series, for example, chronicles the early days of the El Paso rock scene, beginning with the legendary first recordings of
In Billboard's "Declaration of Independents" column, Norton received kudos for their
Radio station WFMU celebrated the label's 15 years in the business with the "Norton Records 15th Anniversary Roast," aired October 25, 2001, on Music to Spazz By with Dave the Spazz.
Norton Records stages music events in the New York area, such as their 2005 New Year's Eve Rock N' Roll Show & Dance at Union Pool in Brooklyn, an event headlined by Linna and Miller's band, the A-Bones, and emceed by The
In addition to their line of magazines (Kicks, Bad Seed), Norton Records also published a book on the work of photographer Eddie Rocco, who contributed to Charlton's Ebony Song Parade and freelanced for Fort Worth's Sepia magazine. Printed on quality stock with an attractive graphic design, The Great Lost Photographs of Eddie Rocco collects many unknown, unpublished 1950s and 1960s pictures, including shots of
Rocco's work would come to the attention of Charlton Publications, a house that specialized in printing lyrics of popular music along with photos of the stars. Founded in 1931, Charlton produced a series of popular music magazines, "which provided beat-happy boppers of all ethnicities with information on R&B musicians, songwriters, and disc jockeys." Although Rocco's photos of popular white bands in the 1960s may attract some fans, it is his earlier work capturing black artists that should be of special interest to journalists, especially those trying to understand the importance of diversity. In spite of its reputation for mass-producing pulp fiction and comic books, Charlton Publications, writes Miriam Linna, "has long gone unlauded for pioneering true racial integration in mass market magazines at a time when other teen periodicals remained safely segregated." Rocco was no Pat Boone, exploiting and whitewashing black creativity. Instead, he and his camera were telling the untold story of the evolution of black music beyond the borders of a black audience.
In 2009, Linna launched her paperback book company, Kicks Books, with Sweets and Other Stories, followed by This Planet Is Doomed (2011). a collection of Sun Ra poetry.
Norton kicked off their 20th anniversary with a massive 80-page catalog, featuring a cover photograph of Marty Lott, the Gulf Coast Fireball, aka The Phantom, and a dedication: "Our 20th Anniversary catalog is dedicated to the memory of Norton's very first artist, the immortal
In 2006, Norton released Dangerous Game, the first solo album by Mary Weiss, the original lead singer of The
In 2009, Norton released three outer space trips by
On November 10-13, 2011, Norton Records celebrated their 25th Anniversary with a four night "all star spectacular" at The Bell House in Brooklyn, NY. The bands included
Norton's Red Hook, Brooklyn warehouse and mail order operation was heavily water damaged by Hurricane Sandy (October 29, 2012). As of mid-December, 2012, Norton is still working with volunteers to clean up the warehouse and save as many of the records damaged by water as possible.