ABC Records

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ABC Records
Abcrecordslogofinal.jpg
Parent company American Broadcasting Company
Founded 1955
Defunct 1979
Status Defunct
(sold and absorbed into MCA Records)
Distributor(s) Self-distributed
Genre Various
Country of origin USA

ABC Records was an American record label, founded in New York City in 1955 as ABC-Paramount Records. It originated as the main popular music label operated by the Am-Par Record Corporation, the music subsidiary of the American Broadcasting Company (then known as American Broadcasting-Paramount Theaters). ABC-Paramount Records' first president was Samuel H. Clark. Am-Par also established the Impulse! jazz label in 1961 and subsequently acquired a number of other labels before the entire division was sold to MCA Records in 1979.

History[edit]

ABC-Paramount (full name "American Broadcasting-Paramount Theaters") -- the direct antecedent of the present-day American Broadcasting Company—evolved from federal antitrust actions taken against the movie studios and broadcasting companies in the 1940s and early 1950s. As a result of a 1943 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) action against anti-competitive practices, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was forced to sell off its broadcast subsidiary the Blue Network, the sister network of NBC, and Blue was purchased by the American Broadcasting System, Inc. In 1953 American Broadcasting merged with United Paramount Theaters, 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.[1]

In addition to producing records directly, ABC licensed finished masters from independent producers and purchased regionally released records for national distribution. The corporate name of Am-Par Record Corporation was changed to ABC-Paramount Records, Inc. in 1962, and then to ABC Records, Inc. in 1967.

In 1965, Clark was promoted to vice-president in charge of AB-PT's non-broadcast operations and national sales manager Larry Newton was named ABC-Paramount president.[2] The label was officially renamed ABC Records in 1966.[3] They distributed Dunhill Records until this label was purchased under Newton to form ABC-Dunhill Records.[4] They also distributed 20th Century Fox Records, Sire Records and UK-based Anchor Records. In 1970, ABC-Dunhill moved its headquarters to Los Angeles[5] and Newton was promoted by ABC to vice-president in charge of ABC Pictures and Dunhill co-founder Jay Lasker was named president. Lasker left ABC to join Ariola America Records.[6] 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 USA.[7] As a cost cutting, but in retrospect ill-conceived move in the mid-1970s, ABC Records discarded their multitrack master tapes to save storage space. So when the affected recordings were reissued on compact discs in the 1980s and beyond, the CDs had to be mastered using the finished album masters which often had inferior sound.[8] The record company's final president, Steve Diener, was named president in 1977 after serving as head of ABC Records' international division.[9] Because the company was suffering financial problems, ABC Records was sold in 1979 to MCA Records, which discontinued the ABC label on March 5, 1979.[10] The better selling albums in the ABC Records catalog were reissued on the MCA label.[11]

Sub-labels and acquisitions[edit]

ABC Records sub-labeled Apt Records to release singles. In the early 1960s, they purchased the Westminster Records classical music label. In 1961 ABC launched its new Impulse! Records label to record and distribute jazz. Under the guidance of the founding label manager Creed Taylor and his successor Bob Thiele, Impulse! soon became known for its innovative releases, including numerous albums recorded by John Coltrane between 1961 and his death in 1967. Several years later, Bluesway Records was created to distribute ABC's blues releases. Tangerine Records was formed by Ray Charles to produce not only his albums but artists produced by Charles, as well.

ABC Records purchased Dunhill Records in the summer of 1967, forming ABC Dunhill Records. They purchased Don Robey's record labels including Duke Records, Peacock Records, Back Beat Records and Song Bird Records on May 23, 1973. Afterwards, they also purchased the Famous Music record labels from Paramount Pictures' then-parent Gulf and Western in 1974 (these included Dot Records and Blue Thumb Records). With the Famous acquisition, ABC gained a distribution deal with Sire Records. ABC distributed (through Sire) the first releases by punk band the Ramones. Sire switched to Warner Bros. distribution in 1977, being sold to WB a year later.

In addition to sub-labels, ABC Records purchased all labels from Enoch Light in October, 1959. ABC acquired Audition Records, Command Performance Records, Colortone Records and Waldorf Music Hall Records.

In 1979, ABC Records was acquired by MCA Records for the sale price of $30 million.[12] It briefly operated as a unit of MCA before it was dissolved and absorbed into MCA; MCA in turn would eventually be absorbed into the Universal Music Group.

This is not the same ABC Records that operates in Australia, which is run by national pubcaster 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 Records),[13][14] nor is it the sublabel of Voiceprint Records.

ABC-Paramount/ABC Records label variations[edit]

  • 1955-1961—Black label, "ABC-PARAMOUNT" around top perimeter of label (in various colored letters for singles and all white letters for albums) and logo consisting of color spectrum Möbius strip and white jagged line. Bottom perimeter of label reads: "A PRODUCT OF AM-PAR RECORD CORP."
  • 1961-1966—Same label as above, but disclaimer at bottom of label now reads: "A PRODUCT OF ABC-PARAMOUNT RECORDS, INC."
  • 1966-1967—Label now shortened to ABC Records. Black label with large white circle at top with "abc" in black letters and the "color wave & jagged line" logo under the letters. This variant was used only for singles.
  • 1967-1974—Black label with small white "abc" circle logo in color spectrum box at top (In conjunction with this label, a brief interim label was used from 1973 to 1974 consisting of three children's blocks spelling out ABC and one block with the "abc" logo in a white triangle at the top).
  • 1974-1978—Yellow, orange, red and purple label with "abc Records" (black "abc" circle logo) between two black lines at top (Note: The other ABC labels would also adopt this label, such as Dunhill, Dot, Blue Thumb with its logo next to the "abc" logo, and Backbeat and Impulse with a green background rather than a yellow background, but the circles were the same, etc.)
  • 1978-1979—Same multi-colored label as above, but with 1/8 note featuring "abc" inside the bottom of the note. Late pressings show "Mfg. & Dist. by MCA Distributing Corp..." at the bottom perimeter, just before the ABC label was discontinued and its artists transferred to MCA.

Types of output[edit]

Artists associated with ABC Records and its labels[edit]

Labels associated with ABC Records[edit]

Management of ABC Records catalogue today[edit]

The catalogues of ABC Records and its sublabels are now controlled by Universal Music Group (coincidentally, UMG also distributes Disney Music Group, which is owned by ABC's current parent The Walt Disney Company) with exceptions being the following:

As for what Universal owns, the following labels manage various parts of the catalogue depending on the genre:

In all five of these cases, the management also includes releases from other labels absorbed into ABC over the years. For example, MCA Nashville's catalogue includes country releases on Dot Records, and Deutsche Grammophon's catalogue includes the Westminster Records catalogue, as well as various soundtracks released by Dot and Paramount Records (among other labels) that consisted of orchestral arrangements.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ashley Kahn, The House That Trane Built (Granta Publications, London, 2006) ISBN 1-86207-646-4, pp.15-16
  2. ^ Billboard - Google Books. Books.google.com. 1965-09-18. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  3. ^ Billboard - Google Books. Books.google.com. 1966-06-18. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  4. ^ Billboard - Google Books. Books.google.com. 1970-09-12. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  5. ^ Billboard - Google Books. Books.google.com. 1970-09-12. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  6. ^ "Jay Lasker, Recording Executive, 65, Dies - New York Times". Nytimes.com. 1989-06-13. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  7. ^ Billboard - Google Books. Books.google.com. 1974-09-21. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  8. ^ "ABC-Paramount Records Story". Bsnpubs.com. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  9. ^ Billboard - Google Books. Books.google.com. 1977-06-18. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  10. ^ Billboard's hottest hot 100 hits - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  11. ^ "ABC-Paramount Records Story". Bsnpubs.com. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  12. ^ Kahn, p. 270.
  13. ^ "Industry - Record Labels - W&G Records". Milesago. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  14. ^ "45 Discography for Ampar/ABC Paramount Records - OZ". Globaldogproductions.info. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  15. ^ Billboard - Google Books. Books.google.com. 1968-04-20. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 

External links[edit]