|Parent company||American Broadcasting Company|
|Status||Sold to MCA Records: Defunct|
|Distributor(s)||Self-distributed (US), EMI (international), Anchor Records (UK), Sparton Records (Canada), Polydor Records (Canada), GRT (Canada)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Location||New York City|
ABC Records was an American record label founded in New York City in 1955. It originated as the main popular music label operated by the Am-Par Record Corporation. Am-Par also created the Impulse! jazz label in 1960. It acquired many labels before ABC was sold to MCA Records in 1979. ABC produced music in a variety of genres: pop, rock, jazz, country, rhythm and blues, soundtrack, gospel, and polka. In addition to producing records, ABC licensed masters from independent record producers, and purchased regionally released records for national distribution.
The label was initially called Am-Par Records (1955), but quickly changed to ABC-Paramount Records (1955–1966), and then renamed ABC Records in 1966.
American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres (AB-PT) was the owner of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). It evolved from federal antitrust actions taken against the movie studios and broadcasting companies in the 1940s and early 1950s.
In 1943 the Federal Communications Commission took action against anti-competitive practices, one of which forced the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) to sell the Blue Network, the sister network of NBC Red Network. Blue was purchased by the businessman Edward J. Noble, and he changed its name to the American Broadcasting Company in 1946. In 1953 ABC merged with United Paramount Theatres, the divested former exhibition/cinema division of Paramount Pictures. The newly merged corporation was chaired by former Paramount Theaters executive Leonard Goldenson and was originally headquartered at 1501 Broadway in New York City, above the Paramount Theater in Times Square.
American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres formed a records division in 1955 with Samuel H. Clark as its first president. June 14, 1955 as Am-Par Record Corporation. By August 1955, the unit was organized with AMPCO (ASCAP) and PAMCO (BMI) as subsidiary publishing units. The record label began as Am-Par, but no records were released until it was changed to ABC-Paramount in September 1955.The division was incorporated on
Eydie Gorme was the company's first signed artist. The company recorded its first single record, "Sincerely Yours" and "Come Home", both by Gorme. Alec Templeton's "Smart Alec" was the company's first LP recorded, also in September 1955.
One of Gorme's singles was its first release in January 1956."Chain Gang" by Bobby Scott in February 1956 was the company's first national hit. George Hamilton IV's "A Rose and a Baby Ruth" single was Am-Paramount's first million-selling single in October 1956.
In 1957, the company had two million-selling single in June with "Diana" by Paul Anka and in October with "At the Hop" by Danny & the Juniors. Am-Paramount Records in May 1958 debut the Apt subsidiary label with its first million-selling single, "Little Star" by the Elegants, released the same month.
Chancellor Records had Am-Par Record Corporation handle its distribution starting in 1957 and started a trend. Chancellor had its first million-selling single in October 1958 with Lloyd Price's "Stagger Lee".
Am-Par purchased Grand Award Records including the newly formed Command Records label, in 1959.The company started a second label for jazz, Impulse! Records, in November 1960. Impulse released its first four records in January 1961.
The company had artists that earned three Grammy Awards in 1960.While in January 1961, the company purchased Westminster Records, a classical label. Thus Am-Par Record had a label for each music genre.
Am-Par Record Corporation was renamed to ABC-Paramount Records, Inc. on December 7, 1961.The company opened a Los Angeles office in January 1962. Ray Charles formed Tangerine Records in March 1962 and arranged for ABC-Paramount to distribute Tangerine's records. The company formed Jet Record Distributors based in Long Island City, N.Y. as its local distributor. Also in 1962, the company had acquired Music Guild label and library for Westminster Records.
In 1965, Clark was promoted to vice-president in charge of AB-PT's non-broadcast operations. National sales manager Larry Newton was named ABC-Paramount president.On January 4, 1965, vice-president in charge of sales Larry Newton was promoted to president of ABC-Paramount Records. The previous president, Sam Clark was promoted to director of theater operations for American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres. Newton's first action as president was to restart Apt Records as a teen-oriented West Coast base label under Irwin Garr.
The label was renamed ABC Records in June 1966.New Deal Record Service Corp., a rack-jobbing and record distribution company, along with its affiliates were also purchased by the company.
In 1967, Dunhill Records was purchased from Lou Adler.In 1970, ABC and Dunhill moved its headquarters to Los Angeles. Newton was promoted to vice-president in charge of ABC Pictures. Dunhill co-owner Jay Lasker was named president and referred to the combined operations as ABC/Dunhill. At that time ABC had another five labels: Westminster, Command, Probe, Impulse, and Bluesway.
At the August 29, 1970 Directors Guild meeting, ABC/Dunhill launched a number of marketing initiatives. The company planned to have writers create a broader music for the catalog market. Imprints Probe and Apt were relaunched, Probe as an label which held the international rights to ABC's albums and Apt as a label which released budget cassettes and 8-track tapes. Jazz dropped from Impulse's cover for a new slogan: "University Series of Fine Recording" and two new series were launched: Audio Treasury and Westminster Gold for classic and youth fare respectively.
By May 1972, ABC formed the ABC Leisure Group, which included ABC Records, Anchor Records, and ABC Records and Tape Sales, plus a new retail record-store division.Lasker left ABC to join Ariola America Records in 1975. He was succeeded by Jerry Rubinstein, who served as company head until 1977. In November 1972, ABC bought country music company Cartwheel Records.
In 1974, ABC switched British distribution from EMI to the EMI-distributed Anchor Records, allowing ABC recordings to be issued on the ABC label in the UK, and Anchor records to be distributed by ABC on the Anchor label in the US.Also in 1974, ABC acquired Famous Music Records Group including Nashville based Dot Records then began releasing ABC country music under the ABC/Dot label until January 1979.
As a cost-cutting measure, ABC Records discarded many master tapes in the 1970s to save storage space. When these recordings were reissued on compact disc in the 1980s, CD versions were often taken from master copies which had less than optimal sound quality.The company's last president, Steve Diener, was named president in 1977 after serving as head of ABC Records' international division. Because of financial problems except for its Nashville office, ABC Records was sold on January 31, 1979 to MCA Records with ABC Records being its third label likely under a different name. Instead, MCA discontinued ABC Records on March 5, 1979 and albums in the ABC catalog still selling well were reissued on MCA.
Diener died in April 2019, aged 80.
ABC Records sub-labeled Apt to release singles. In the early 1960s, it bought Westminster, a classical music label. For jazz it created Impulse!. Led by Creed Taylor and Bob Thiele, Impulse! developed a reputation for innovative releases, including albums by John Coltrane from 1961 until his death in 1967. ABC created Bluesway for blues music. Tangerine was formed by Ray Charles to produce his albums and those he produced.
ABC Records bought Dunhill in the summer of 1967, forming ABC Dunhill Records. It also bought Don Robey's record labels, including Duke, Peacock, Back Beat, and Song Bird on May 23, 1973.
In 1974 ABC bought the Famous Music record labels from Gulf and Western, the parent company of Paramount. This acquisition gave ABC Dot, Blue Thumb, and a distribution deal with Sire, which released the first album from the Ramones.
ABC purchased all labels from Enoch Light in October 1959. It acquired Audition, Command,Colortone, and Waldorf Music Hall.
In 1979, ABC was acquired by MCA for $30 million.It operated briefly as a separate division. MCA was absorbed by the Universal Music Group, which currently distributes recordings for ABC's current sister company, Disney Music Group, worldwide except for Russia.
This is not the same ABC Records that operates in Australia, which is run by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, although the Ampar label was distributed in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s, first by W&G Records (1955–60) and then by Festival.Nor is it the sub-label of Voiceprint.
The catalogs of ABC Records and its sub-labels are now controlled by Universal Music Group. UMG also distributes Disney Music Group, which is owned by ABC's current parent, The Walt Disney Company, with the following exceptions:
The following labels manage different genres:
These labels also produce releases from labels absorbed into ABC. For example, MCA Nashville's catalog includes country releases on Dot Records. Deutsche Grammophon's catalog includes the Westminster Records catalog, as well as soundtracks released by Dot and Paramount Records.
Geffen Records is an American record label established by David Geffen and owned by Universal Music Group through its Interscope Geffen A&M Records imprint.
MCA Inc. was an American media conglomerate founded in 1924. Originally a talent agency with artists in the music business as clients, the company became a major force in the film industry, and later expanded into television production. MCA published music, booked acts, ran a record company, represented film, television, and radio stars, and eventually produced and sold television programs to the three major television networks, but had an especially good relationship with NBC.
MCA Records was an American record label owned by MCA Inc., which later gave way to the larger Universal Music Group.
Dot Records was an American record label founded by Randy Wood that was active between 1950 and 1979. The label was reactivated in 2014 through a joint venture between Big Machine Label Group and the Republic Records unit of Universal Music Group. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, the label was retired in 2017.
Verve Records, also known as Verve Label Group, founded in 1956 by Norman Granz, is home to the world's largest jazz catalogue and includes recordings by artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Stan Getz, Bill Evans, Billie Holiday and Oscar Peterson, among others. It absorbed the catalogues of Granz's earlier labels, Clef Records, founded in 1946, Norgran Records, founded in 1953, and material previously licensed to Mercury Records.
Dunhill Records was started in 1964 by Lou Adler, Al Bennett, Pierre Cossette and Bobby Roberts as Dunhill Productions to release the music of Johnny Rivers on Imperial Records. It became a record label the following year and was distributed by ABC Records.
Ode Records was an American record label, started by Lou Adler in 1967 after he sold Dunhill Records to ABC Records. It was distributed by CBS's Epic Records except between 1970 and 1976, when the label was distributed by A&M Records. The original incarnation was closed in 1978 and CBS took over most of catalog, often with Epic logos replacing Ode logos on reissues.
Shelter Records was a U.S. record label started by Leon Russell and Denny Cordell that operated from 1969 to 1981. The company established offices in both Los Angeles and Tulsa, Russell's home town, where the label sought to promote a "workshop atmosphere" with a recording studio in a converted church, adjoining houses for artists working at the studio, and other facilities. The Tulsa recording studio was housed in the historic The Church Studio. Russell remained with Shelter until 1976, when he and Cordell fell out. In a settlement, Cordell then became sole owner of the label, while Russell left to start his own label, Paradise Records.
Apt Records was a sub-label from ABC-Paramount Records. The label was started in 1958 and released only singles until it was shelved in 1966. ABC briefly reactivated Apt twice, in 1969 and 1972, and also used the Apt name on a line of budget-priced 8-track and cassette tapes in 1970. The name was derived from ABC-Paramount's parent company, American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres.
Impulse! Records is an American jazz record company and label established by Creed Taylor in 1960. John Coltrane was among Impulse!'s earliest signings. Thanks to consistent sales and positive critiques of his recordings, the label came to be known as "the house that Trane built".
20th Century Fox Records, also known as 20th Fox Records and 20th Century Records, was a wholly owned subsidiary of film studio 20th Century Fox. The history of the label covers three distinct 20th Century Fox-related operations in the analog era, ranging chronologically from about 1938 to 1981.
Hip-O Records is a record label that specializes in reissues and compilations. It is part of Universal Music Group. Established in 1996, the label has distributed releases from 'out of style' genres such as disco and early hip-hop music as well as publishing film soundtracks. The label's name is a pun on the name 'hippo'.
Easy Rider is the soundtrack to the cult classic 1969 film Easy Rider. The songs that make up the soundtrack were carefully selected to form a "musical commentary" within the film. The album of the soundtrack was released by ABC-Dunhill Records in August 1969. It peaked at #6 on the Billboard album charts in September of that year, and was certified gold in January 1970.
Hickory Records is an American record label founded in 1954 by Acuff-Rose Music, which operated the label up to 1979. Sony Music Publishing revived the label in 2007. Originally based in Nashville, and functioning as an independent label throughout its history, it has had several distributors.
Famous Music Corporation was the worldwide music publishing division of Paramount Pictures, a division of Viacom since 1994. Its copyright holdings span several decades and includes music from such Academy Award-winning motion pictures as The Godfather and Forrest Gump. It was founded in 1928 by Paramount’s predecessor, the Famous-Lasky Corporation, to publish music from its "talking pictures." Some of the classic songs in the Famous Music catalog that originated in motion pictures include "Moon River", "Thanks for the Memory", "Silver Bells", "Mona Lisa", "Where Do I Begin?", "Speak Softly, Love", "Up Where We Belong", "Footloose", "Take My Breath Away" and "My Heart Will Go On".
Paramount Records was a record label started in 1969 by Paramount Pictures after acquiring the rights to the name from George H. Buck. A previous Paramount Records, active between 1917 and 1932, had been unconnected to Paramount Pictures. The new Paramount label reissued pop releases by sister label Dot Records, which became a country label. It also released new albums from other pop musicians and soundtracks to Paramount films such as Paint Your Wagon, among others. Cast members of the Paramount Television series The Brady Bunch were signed, and the label issued several tie-in albums and singles.
Westminster Records was an American classical music record label, issuing original recordings until 1965. It was co–founded in 1949 by Mischa Naida, the owner of the Westminster Record Shop in New York City, businessman James Grayson (1897–1980), conductor Henry Swoboda, and Henry Gage. Its trademark was Big Ben and its slogan was "natural balance", referring to its single microphone technique in recording music, similar to Mercury Records' Living Presence series.
American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres, Inc. was the post-merger parent company of the American Broadcasting Company and United Paramount Theatres.
DreamWorks Pictures is an American film production company, and a label of Amblin Partners. It was founded in 1994 as an original live-action film studio by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, of which they owned 72%. The studio formerly distributed its own and third-party films. It has produced or distributed more than ten films with box-office grosses of more than $100 million each.
GRT Records was the name of both a U.S. and a Canadian record label, both created by General Recorded Tape, a California-based company that existed from 1969 to 1979. Their demise was concurrent with the bankruptcy of their owner, General Recorded Tape.