News item from New York Daily News (via Soulful Detroit website)
Harlem icon sings blues
Impresario, 90, facing eviction
After 60 years selling & making hits, uptown icon faces eviction
BY DAVID HINCKLEY Sunday, July 29th 2007, 4:00 AM
When World War II ended, Bobby Robinson decided against returning to the South Carolina cotton fields where he grew up and where his grandfather had been born a slave. He headed north to New York. There, from a small record shop at Eighth Ave. and 125th St., he helped shape the rhythm and blues that soon exploded into rock 'n' roll. He produced a national No. 1 hit record, Wilbert Harrison's "Kansas City." He produced Gladys Knight's first hit record, and in the late 1970s, he was the first music man to record this strange new sound out of the Bronx called hip-hop. He didn't sing or play music. He produced music. He sold music. He found music. He promoted music. He lived music. Today, at 90, he still does, on the same New York street corner. But as early as this week, it all could end, and for the most prosaic of New York reasons - a form letter from a new landlord saying he has 30 days to pack up his small shop and leave. Kimco, a real estate giant that owns properties such as the Concourse Plaza and Centerreach Mall, has bought the northwest corner of 125th St. and Eighth Ave. and is asking tenants to leave, including Bobby's Happy House. Kimco could not be reached for comment, but the letter tells Robinson to vacate by Tuesday. "We won't close then," says Denise Benjamin, Robinson's daughter, who now runs the store. "We're trying to talk to them and see what we can do." But there are no guarantees, and the alternatives are bleak. Finding another affordable store "in a prime location," says Benjamin, "is almost impossible." Robinson himself wants to stay: "I've been on this corner since 1946. I came back from the war, I had some money and I became the first colored man to own a store on 125th St. It isn't fair to make businesses close." If history counted, he'd stay there forever. His wall is solid with autographed pictures of artists who came over from the Apollo Theater, a half block away: Al Green, Eddie Kendricks, Berry Gordy, the Miracles with Smokey Robinson. There's Jackie Wilson and Fats Domino together, and of course, James Brown. "Very good friend," says Robinson. Robinson has a lot of those. "I was the only store to stay open the night of the  riots," he says. "The liquor store near me, 10-15 guys smashed the windows, carried it out by the case. But I wasn't touched. Everybody knew me, respected me." And if it's time to go, he's going in style. He arrived at the store Thursday in a crisp tailored suit, white shirt, sharp shoes, matching tie and handkerchief, a black-and-white hat over his white hair. When he recalls the first night he and his brother, Dan, went to the Bronx to hear hip-hoppers, his legs and hips break into a little dance - just like the young and happy Bobby Robinson frozen in a slightly yellowed World War II picture on the wall, dancing with a girl from Hawaii. Today, times having changed, the golden age of the record store has passed. Shikulu Shange's Harlem Record Shack, his longtime neighbor around the corner, also is facing eviction. But music endures. And so, happily, does Bobby Robinson.