Enigma Records

Last updated

Enigma Records
Enigma logo.png
Parent companyGreenworld Distribution (until 1985)
EMI (from 1989)
Universal Music Group (back catalog)
Disney Music Group (Stryper catalog)
Warner Music Group (Devo and Restless catalogs)
Founded1980 (1980)
FounderWilliam and Wesley Hein
Defunct1991 (1991)
Distributor(s) Capitol Records (reissues)
Hollywood Records (Stryper reissues)
Genre Hard rock, heavy metal, alternative, punk [1]
Country of originUnited States
Location Torrance, El Segundo, Culver City, California

Enigma Records (also known as Enigma Entertainment Corporation) was a popular rock and alternative American record label in the 1980s.



Enigma Records launched as a division of Greenworld Distribution, an independent music importer/distributor, in 1981. [2] [3] Four years later, in 1985, Enigma severed ties with Greenworld and became its own company. [4] Enigma was initially located in Torrance, California, [1] then El Segundo, California [5] and finally Culver City, California. [6] Enigma was founded and run by brothers William and Wesley Hein. [3] Jim Martone joined the company in 1984. [7] Enigma focused on punk rock, alternative, and heavy metal music [1] though it also released techno (Synthicide Records), jazz (Intima Records) and classical music (Enigma Classics) through subsidiary labels. [4]

The label's first release was Mötley Crüe's Too Fast for Love . [4] The album was initially released under the band's own Leathür Records imprint but manufactured, marketed and distributed by what would become the Enigma Records team. After the band moved on to Elektra Records, the Enigma Records name was adopted and all subsequent artists were released under this new name. Enigma's next major success was with the pop band Berlin. [4] [8]

Enigma Records was initially distributed through independent record importers/distributors such as Jem Records and Important Records. In 1984, Enigma entered into a joint venture with EMI America to sign and develop new artists. Among the artists signed under the venture were the Red Hot Chili Peppers and SSQ (later renamed Stacey Q and signed to Atlantic Records). In 1986, Enigma moved its distribution to Capitol/Universal Music Group, [4] a major record label, while leaving its Restless Records division with the independent distributors that had previously distributed Enigma. Poison, a glam rock band, and The Smithereens were two of the first artists released under the joint Enigma / Capitol relationship, both of which had significant success. That same year it launched a music video line, which was also distributed by Capitol. [9]

One of Enigma's biggest commercial successes was with the Christian rock band Stryper, which had several gold and platinum records on the label as well as significant international success. [10]

In addition to the primary Enigma Records label, the company had two smaller subsidiary labels as well as a music publishing company (La Rana / El Porto Music administered by Bug Music). Enigma Retro focused on re-issues of material licensed from other labels such as Straight Records, Bizarre Records, and DiscReet Records. The Restless Records division focused on alternative artists not intended for major label distribution. Enigma also released film soundtracks including The Terminator and River's Edge . Enigma released a compilation album, Enigma Variations , with various artists. Enigma had a joint venture with Mute Records and released certain Mute titles in the United States. Sonic Youth's landmark 1988 album Daydream Nation was originally released on Enigma Records, in association with Blast First Records.

Enigma was formally acquired by Capitol/UMG in 1989. [3] [5] Some of its catalog and operations were merged into the still independent Restless Records in 1991. [11]

Enigma's Canadian division was closed in 1992 and was reorganized into FRE Records before shuttering in 1999, after which its back catalogs was sold to DROG Records.

The Enigma catalog is controlled by Capitol Music Group, owned by Universal Music Group which acquired Capitol's former parent EMI and the majority of its recorded music operations in 2012. Disney Music Group's Hollywood Records, distributed by UMG, handles the reissues of Stryper's Enigma albums. The catalog of Devo's albums and Enigma titles that were merged into Restless is owned by Warner Music Group, which acquired Restless's previous parent Rykodisc in 2006, and distributed by the Alternative Distribution Alliance.


See also

Related Research Articles

Virgin Records UK record company

Virgin Records is a record label and music distributor owned by Universal Music Group. It originally launched as a British independent record label in 1972 and was founded by entrepreneurs Richard Branson, Simon Draper, Nik Powell, and musician Tom Newman. It grew to be a worldwide success over time, with the success of platinum performers Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, Devo, Tangerine Dream, Genesis, Phil Collins, the Human League, Culture Club, Simple Minds, Lenny Kravitz and Mike Oldfield among others, meaning that by the time it was sold, it was regarded as a major label, alongside other large international independents such as A&M and Island Records.

SST Records is an American independent record label formed in 1978 in Long Beach, California by musician Greg Ginn. The company was formed in 1966 by Ginn at age 12 as Solid State Tuners, a small business through which he sold electronics equipment. Ginn repurposed the company as a record label to release material by his band Black Flag.

Harvest Records is a British-American record label belonging to Capitol Music Group, originally created by EMI in 1969.

Rykodisc is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group, operating as a unit of WMG's Independent Label Group and is distributed through Alternative Distribution Alliance.

I.R.S. Records American record label

I.R.S. Records was an American record label founded by Miles Copeland III, Jay Boberg, and Carl Grasso in 1979. I.R.S. produced some of the most popular bands of the 1980s, and was particularly known for issuing records by college rock, new wave and alternative rock artists, including R.E.M., The Go-Go's, Wall of Voodoo and Fine Young Cannibals.


Skydiggers are a Canadian roots rock band from Toronto formed by Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson. Since 1990, they have released 19 albums/EPs and have had a number of singles that have appeared on the Canadian charts. Their most successful album is Restless, released in 1992. With a presence spanning decades, the band has appeared under a variety of different record labels and with many changes in members that form the group. The current group of six members released their most recent recording in 2017.

Chameleon was a record label formed by producer, music entrepreneur and former Capitol Records A&R executive Stephen Powers, in association with Bob Marin, Managing Director of alternative rock importer Sounds Good, and Richard Foos, co-founder of Rhino Records.

The Smithereens American rock band

The Smithereens are an American rock band from Carteret, New Jersey, United States. The group formed in 1980 with members Pat DiNizio, Jim Babjak, Mike Mesaros, , and Dennis Diken. This original lineup continued until 2006, when Mesaros left the band and Severo Jornacion took over on bass guitar until Mesaros' return in 2016. After DiNizio died in 2017, the band continued performing live shows as a trio with various guest vocalists.

Combat Records was an American independent record label from New York City. The label was home to predominantly heavy metal and punk rock acts, including Megadeth, Circle Jerks, Nuclear Assault, OZ, Death, Dead Brain Cells, Possessed, Crumbsuckers, Agnostic Front, Agent Steel, Dark Angel, Heathen, Zoetrope and Exodus. In 2017, it was announced that Combat was being relaunched by Megadeth bassist David Ellefson and Thom Hazaert as a new label imprint under their EMP Label Group.

Leathür Records was American glam metal band Mötley Crüe's original record label that was also owned by their original manager Allan Coffman. Leathür's only release was the band's 1981 debut studio album Too Fast for Love.

Restless Records is a record label that was started in El Segundo, California in 1986 by Enigma Records and primarily released alternative, metal, and punk records. Restless also licensed and released records from Bar/None Records, Metal Blade Records and Mute Records. Restless also had a fully owned subsidiary, Pink Dust Records.

Star Music

Star Music, formerly known as Star Records, is a record label in the Philippines under ABS-CBN Music, which is owned and operated by media conglomerate ABS-CBN Corporation. It was formerly a separate company operating as a wholly owned subsidiary of ABS-CBN until 2013 when it was merged to ABS-CBN Film Productions, Inc. Its publishing and distribution subsidiary in the country is Star Music Publishing and has over one thousand songs in its catalog including the classic song "Anak" by Freddie Aguilar.

Guardian (band)

Guardian is an American Christian hard rock and metal band. The band has released seven studio albums, three additional albums in Spanish, and toured extensively worldwide. There are also numerous compilations, live records and bootlegs available.

Barren Cross

Barren Cross was an American Christian metal band that was formed in Los Angeles, California in 1983 by high school friends Ray Parris (guitar) and Steve Whitaker (drums). The band released six albums from 1986 to 1994. They have reunited for a few shows in recent years, and plan to record a new album.

Mötley Records is a record label founded by the heavy metal band Mötley Crüe after severing their ties with Elektra records and acquiring the rights to their music catalog. It serves as a successor to the band's original record label Leathür Records, which released their 1981 debut album Too Fast for Love, an imprint of Greenworld Distribution, owned by the band and original manager Allan Coffman. Leathür was soon closed when Mötley Crüe signed a deal with Elektra, which lasted until 1997. Albums produced under Mötley Records include Saints of Los Angeles, Red, White & Crüe, and New Tattoo. In addition, the label also re-released the band's first seven albums as a "Crücial Crüe" edition.

Frontiers Records Italian record label

Frontiers Records is an Italian record label, predominantly producing hard rock. It was founded in 1996 by Serafino Perugino and is based in Naples, Italy.

New Renaissance Records

New Renaissance Records is an American record label founded in 1984 by Ann Boleyn, who also is the lead singer of the group Hellion and is credited with coining the term speed metal.

Alternative Distribution Alliance

Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA) is a music distribution company owned by Warner Music Group, which represents the rights to various independent record labels. ADA provides "independent artist and label partners with access to the resources, relationships and experience required to share their creative vision with a global audience."

Stryper American band

Stryper is an American Christian metal band from Orange County, California. The group's lineup consists of Michael Sweet, Oz Fox (guitar), Perry Richardson, and Robert Sweet (drums).

Cargo Records was a Canadian independent record label and distributor, active in the 1980s and 1990s. Based in Montreal, the company both released albums directly as a label, and distributed albums on behalf of many other small independent labels, making it one of the largest and most influential Canadian record companies of the alternative rock era.


  1. 1 2 3 Seidenberg, Robert (August 1985). "The Enigma Variations". Spin . p. 31. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  2. Gil, Paco Pepe (October 31, 2019). "Chiswick, Stiff, Creation...: 10 razones de peso para comprarle discos a un sello independiente" [Chiswick, Stiff, Creation ...: 10 compelling reasons to buy records from an independent label]. El Periódico de Catalunya (in Spanish). Retrieved March 9, 2020. In 1980, Enigma Records was created by the brothers William and Wesley Hein as a division of Greenworld Distribution, an independent music distributor and importer. A few years later they split from the parent company and moved to California and dedicated themselves to promoting and supporting alternative music bands and artists. ... Notable artists include: The Dream Syndicate, Don Dixon, The Cramps, Agent Orange, Rock Erickson, Green On Red, The Minutemen, Rain Parade, Redd Kross, The Vandals, Wednesday Week, Stryper and The Smithereens. (translated from Spanish)
  3. 1 2 3 "Wesley Hein". LinkedIn . Retrieved June 18, 2011.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Goodman, Fred (July 18, 1987). "Putting Business back Into the Music Business". Billboard . pp. E-4. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 9, 2020. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  5. 1 2 Knoedlseder, William K., Jr (July 28, 1989). "Polygram Will Buy Island Records for About $300 Million". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  6. "Ad for the Cramps Stay Sick album". Spin . April 1990. p. 23. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  7. "Jim Martone". Music 180.com. Archived from the original on August 22, 2011. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
  8. "Enigma Records History" (PDF). New on the Charts. March 4, 2017. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  9. Sutherland, Sam (May 3, 1986). "Capitol Is Solution for Enigma Distribution". Billboard . 98 (18). pp. 4, 71. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
  10. "Stryper History". Q103 Albany. October 22, 2016. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  11. "Enigma Records". Rate Your Music . Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved June 18, 2011.