20th Century Fox Records
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|20th Century Fox Records|
|Parent company||20th Century Fox|
(fate: sold to PolyGram in 1981 and absorbed into Casablanca Records)
(except 1966–1971 ABC Records, 1979–1981 RCA Records)
|Country of origin||United States|
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 actually covers three distinct 20th Century Fox-related operations in the analog era, ranging chronologically from about 1958 to 1981.
Although not considered part of 20th Fox Records, between 1933 and 1937, a custom record label called Fox Movietone was produced starting at F-100 and running through F-136. It featured songs from Fox movies, first using material recorded and issued on Victor's Bluebird label and halfway through switched to material recorded and issued on ARC's dime store labels (Melotone, Perfect, etc.). These scarce records were sold only at Fox Theaters.
Their regular record label began in 1958 as 20th Fox Records. In 1963, 20th Fox Records became 20th Century-Fox Records. Comedian Dickie Goodman was president of the label in the early 1960s. 20th Fox was one of the few record labels to basically ignore rock music and they didn't sign any of the mid-1960s British acts, either. This explains how little chart action the label received (with the exception of the best-selling "The Little Drummer Boy" by The Harry Simeone Chorale, which was a Christmas hit in 1968, 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1962). Other exceptions to this was two big hits in 1964 by Diane Renay and 5 mid-chart hits by Mary Wells in 1964-1965.
The first three acts signed to the 20th Century label were The DeFranco Family, Maureen McGovern, and Barry White; however, Brighter Side of Darkness gave the newly renamed label their first hit record in 1973 with "Love Jones". The label also had major hits with Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra, Love Unlimited, Carl Douglas (best known for the song "Kung Fu Fighting"), Edwin Starr, Stephanie Mills, Leon Haywood, Carl Carlton and the Star Wars soundtrack in 1977.
The company also released the Harry Simeone Chorale's recording of "Little Drummer Boy" and the album on which it was first featured, Sing We Now of Christmas, later reissued as The Little Drummer Boy (this was part of the first 1958-era label series). It became the best selling Christmas album ever. The rights were later acquired by PolyGram, which released it on CD in 1988, on the Casablanca Records label.
Among the movie soundtrack albums released by 20th Century Fox Records were those of Zorba the Greek, The Bible: In the Beginning, Doctor Dolittle, and Patton, all of them 20th Century Fox films. However, the label did not issue the soundtrack albums of any of the Rodgers and Hammerstein films released by the studio. Instead, the albums made from five of these films were released by Capitol Records (Oklahoma! and Carousel due to star Shirley Jones' recording contract and The King and I due to contractual obligations of Yul Brynner), and the remaining two albums by RCA Victor (South Pacific and The Sound of Music due to stars Mitzi Gaynor's and Julie Andrews' recording contracts with that label). Years later, the Capitol albums reappeared on CD in expanded versions issued by Angel Records. (The film versions of Oklahoma and South Pacific, although released in roadshow format by the Magna Corporation, were given general release by 20th Century Fox.)
In 1966, Fox had a deal with ABC Records for distribution and until 1970, this partnership enjoyed success. By 1970, with the parent 20th Century Fox in financial trouble (that eventually led to discontent that resulted in the ousting of Darryl Zanuck), the new output of the record company dropped to zero. Although albums that had been selling were distributed by ABC Records, no new product was forthcoming and 20th Century-Fox then shut down its record subsidiary.
It was re-activated in 1972 as 20th Century Records and designed a smart new blue label with a new logo. Russ Regan, a veteran "record man", became the new head of the label, a move that increased their credibility in the business considerably. Promotion seemed better, too, as the first two singles issued by the new incarnation both charted. Plus their biggest selling artist at the time, Barry White, scored two number one hits with "Love's Theme" with Love Unlimited Orchestra and his own "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe". 20th Century-Fox had budgeted a million dollars a year for three years to support the revived label, but it began paying its own way after only six months.
In 1976, Russ Regan left to form his own Millennium Records label which was first contracted with and later became absorbed by Casablanca Records, until that label was itself absorbed by Polygram. Then, Barry White set up his own label, Unlimited Gold Records, under CBS which had performed the pressing duties for 20th since 1972, after he chose not to renew his contract with Fox in 1978.
The company reverted to "20th Century Fox Records," with a new label design featuring the movie firm logo and launched a new distribution deal for Carl Davis' Chi Sound Records in 1978 after leaving their deal with United Artists Records. In 1979, RCA Records took over distribution of the label.
The label was active until 1981, being sold to PolyGram in early 1982. Oil magnate Marvin Davis, who had acquired 20th Century Fox, was not interested in the record company, hence its sale. All of its catalog and contracts for then-current artists including Stephanie Mills and Carl Carlton had folded into and became part of the Casablanca label, which PolyGram had purchased in 1977.
Even though 20th Century Fox or its parent company 21st Century Fox no longer operates a record company, its music publishing unit Fox Music licenses music heard on Fox feature films or TV shows to other record companies. For example, the rights to the soundtrack of the film Titanic is licensed to Sony Music (though the US rights to the film itself are owned by Paramount Pictures). Also, Glee cast albums are licensed to Sony Music's Columbia Records in a 50/50 venture with 20th Century Fox. These albums were issued using the 20th Century Fox TV Records imprint which was launched in 2009 and distributed by Columbia Records.
Notable 20th Century Records/20th Century Fox Records/TCF Records/20th Fox artists
- Brighter Side of Darkness
- Carl Carlton
- Patti Dahlstrom
- DeFranco Family
- Carl Douglas
- The Exciters
- Leif Garrett
- Byrdie Green
- Leon Haywood
- Lena Horne
- Dan Hill
- Ahmad Jamal
- Kinsman Dazz
- Kitty Kallen
- Love Unlimited
- Mahogany Rush
- Peter McCann
- Maureen McGovern
- Milan (aka The Leather Boy)
- Glenn Miller
- Stephanie Mills
- Nite City
- Kenny Nolan
- Alan Parsons Project
- Jim Photoglo
- Genya Ravan
- Diane Renay
- Harriet Schock
- Harry Simeone Chorale
- Simple E
- Dusty Springfield
- Edwin Starr
- Evelyn Thomas
- Mary Wells
- Barry White and the Love Unlimited Orchestra
- Adam West
- Frankie Lymon
- Richard Barrett
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- Billboard – Google Books. August 14, 1993. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
- Sprekende machines: geschiedenis van ... – Google Books. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
- "Titanic" floats Sony Classical".
- Barker, Andrew (2009-12-04). "Music biz strikes a chord with TV placement". Variety. Retrieved 2013-07-22.