|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2013)|
|Founded||Los Angeles, 1942|
|Distributor(s)||Capitol Music Group|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Location||Capitol Records Building
Los Angeles, California
Capitol Records, LLC is a major American record label that is part of the Capitol Music Group and is a wholly owned division of Universal Music Group. Founded in 1942 by three industry insiders, the label has recorded and released material by artists such as Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, The Kingston Trio, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Glen Campbell, Kraftwerk, Megadeth, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Coldplay, and Katy Perry among many others. Eventually acquired by EMI (which was acquired by Universal Music in 2012 and merged with UMG in 2013 after selling former sister label Parlophone to Warner Music), the label has released records in many musical genres. Its Los Angeles headquarters building Capitol Records Tower is a recognized landmark.
- 1 History
- 2 Broadway and films
- 3 Recasting albums for domestic consumption
- 4 The Capitol Records Building
- 5 Capitol Studios
- 6 International operations
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
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The Company was founded by songwriter Johnny Mercer in 1942, with the financial help of fellow songwriter and film producer Buddy DeSylva, and the business acumen of Glenn Wallichs (1910–1971). Wallichs was the owner of Wallichs Music City, the biggest record store in Los Angeles at the time.
Mercer first raised the idea of starting a record company while golfing with Harold Arlen and Bobby Sherwood. By 1941, Mercer was an experienced songwriter and a singer with multiple successful releases. Mercer next suggested the idea to his friend Wallichs while visiting Wallichs' record store. Wallichs expressed interest and the pair negotiated an agreement whereby Mercer would run the company and identify the artists, while Wallichs managed the business side.
On February 2, 1942, Mercer and Wallichs met with DeSylva at a Hollywood restaurant to inquire about the possibility of investment from Paramount Pictures. While DeSylva declined the Paramount proposal, he handed the pair a check worth US$15,000. On March 27, 1942, the three men incorporated as "Liberty Records" (the name of a record label that Capitol eventually acquired). In May 1942, the application was amended to change the name to "Capitol Records".
On April 6, 1942, Mercer supervised Capitol's first recording session, recording Martha Tilton singing "Moon Dreams". On May 5, Bobby Sherwood and his orchestra recorded two tracks. On May 21, Freddie Slack and his orchestra recorded three tracks: one with the orchestra; one with Ella Mae Morse called "Cow-Cow Boogie"; and "Air-Minded Executive" with Mercer.
On June 4, 1942, Capitol opened its first office in a second-floor room south of Sunset Boulevard. On the same day, Wallichs presented the first free record to Los Angeles disc jockey Peter Potter, originating the practice of distributing free discs to DJs.
On June 5, 1942, Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra recorded four sides. On June 12, the orchestra recorded five more, including one with Billie Holiday. On June 11, Tex Ritter recorded "(I Got Spurs That) Jingle Jangle Jingle" and "Goodbye My Little Cherokee" at his first Capitol recording session, and the songs formed record #110.
On July 1, 1942, Capitol Records released its first nine records:
- 101 – "I Found a New Baby"/"The General Jumped at Dawn" – Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra
- 102 – "Cow-Cow Boogie" with Ella Mae Morse and Freddy Slack and His Orchestra/ "Here You Are" – Freddy Slack and His Orchestra
- 103 – "Strip Polka"/"Air-Minded Executive" – both with vocals by Johnny Mercer
- 104 – "Johnny Doughboy Found A Rose In Ireland"/ "Phil, The Fluters Ball" – both with vocals by Dennis Day
- 105 – "The Angels Cried" – vocal Martha Tilton and The Mellowaires/I'll Remember April" – vocal Martha Tilton with Gordon Jenkins and his Orchestra
- 106 – "He Wears A Pair Of Silver Wings" – vocal Connie Haines/"I’m Always Chasing Rainbows" – Gordon Jenkins and his Orchestra
- 107 – "Elk's Parade"/"I Don't Know Why" – Bobby Sherwood and his Orchestra
- 108 – "Serenade In Blue" – Martha Tilton with Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra/"(I've Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo" – The Mellowaires with Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra
- 109 – "Windmill Under The Stars"/"Conchita Lopez" – Johnnie Johnston
The earliest recording artists included co-owner Mercer, Whiteman, Tilton, Morse, Margaret Whiting, Jo Stafford, the Pied Pipers, and Paul Weston and His Orchestra. Capitol's first gold single was Morse's "Cow Cow Boogie" in 1942. Capitol's first album was Capitol Presents Songs By Johnny Mercer, a three 78-rpm disc set with recordings by Mercer, Stafford and the Pied Pipers, all with Weston's Orchestra.
Capitol was the first major West Coast label and competed with RCA-Victor, Columbia and Decca, labels that were all based on the East Coast in New York. In addition to its Los Angeles recording studio, Capitol owned a second studio in New York City and, on occasion, sent mobile recording equipment to New Orleans and other cities.
By 1946, Capitol had sold 42 million records and was established as one of the "Big Six" record labels. Also in 1946, writer-producer Alan W. Livingston created Bozo the Clown for the company's new children's record library. Examples of notable Capitol albums for children during that era are Sparky's Magic Piano and Rusty in Orchestraville.
Capitol released a few classical albums in the 1940s, some of which featured a heavily embossed, leather-like cover. These recordings initially appeared in the 78 rpm format and were then released on LPs (33 1/3 rpm) in 1949. Among the recordings was a unique performance from Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos' Choros No. 10, with contributions from a Los Angeles choral group and the Janssen Symphony Orchestra (1940–1952), conducted by Werner Janssen; Symphony No. 3 by Russian composer Reinhold Moritzovich Glière; and César Franck's Symphony in D minor, with Willem Mengelberg and the Concertgebouw Orchestra.
In 1949 the Canadian branch was established and Capitol purchased the KHJ Studios on Melrose Avenue that is adjacent to the Paramount Pictures lot in Hollywood. By the mid-1950s, Capitol had become a huge company that concentrated on popular music.
The decade's roster included Nat King Cole, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Frank Sinatra, Stan Kenton, June Christy, Judy Garland, The Andrews Sisters, Jackie Gleason, Harry James, Jane Froman, Wesley Tuttle, Ray Anthony, Andy Griffith, Shirley Bassey, Merle Travis, The Kingston Trio (who in 1960 would account for 20% of all record sales for Capitol), Dean Martin, The Four Freshmen, Al Martino, Dinah Shore and Nancy Wilson (actually signed in 1960 to Capitol). Notable comedy recordings included several by Stan Freberg and the Yiddish-dialect parodies of Mickey Katz. The label also began recording rock and roll acts such as The Jodimars and Gene Vincent.
Children listened to Capitol's Bozo the Clown albums, which featured 78-rpm discs and full color booklets that children could follow as they listened. Although various people played Bozo the Clown on television, Capitol used the voice of Pinto Colvig, who was also the voice for Walt Disney's cartoon character Goofy.
In 1952, Billboard magazine presented a multi-page chronicle of the label's first decade—an important source for its early history.
In 1955, British record company EMI acquired 96% of Capitol Records stock for $8.5 million. Soon afterward, EMI built a new studio at Hollywood and Vine to match its state-of-the-art Abbey Road Studios in London. EMI's classical Angel Records label was merged into Capitol in 1957. Some classical recordings were issued in high fidelity and even stereophonic sound on the label by William Steinberg and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski with various orchestras (including the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra) and Sir Thomas Beecham and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as light classical albums by Carmen Dragon and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and a series of albums of film music conducted by leading Hollywood composers such as Alfred Newman.
In 1959, with the advent of stereo, Capitol changed its LP label design from a large "dome logo" with a gray background to a smaller "dome logo" in a silver oval with a black background and a colorband around the edge. At first, the oval was on the left side of the label, with a tapering vertical line extending from the top and bottom. Classical labels replaced the vertical line with the words "INCOMPARABLE HIGH-FIDELITY" and added a round "FDS-Full Dimensional Sound" shield. In the early 1960s the oval was moved to the top of the label, while the colorband was slightly narrower. This design was used for early Beatles albums.
During the 1950s Capitol introduced its series of "Hi-Q" production music LP's and tapes. Television and film productions that made use of this extensive library included Gumby, Davey and Goliath, The Donna Reed Show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Ren & Stimpy Show and the earliest Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Due to a strike by the American Federation of Musicians in 1958 affecting motion picture orchestras, Warner Brothers relied on several cues from the library to score some of its theatrical cartoons.
Capitol released many soundtrack recordings in the 1950s, including the film versions of three Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals Oklahoma!, Carousel, and The King and I, as well as excerpts from Dimitri Tiomkin's music from Warner Bros.' Giant.
One of the first groups to sign with Capitol Records in the early 1960s was The Beach Boys. They started in early 1962. As the British music scene burgeoned in 1963, Capitol, as an EMI label, had the right of first refusal on EMI artists. After initial resistance to issuing records by The Beatles, who were signed to sister EMI label Parlophone in the U.K., Capitol exercised its option in November 1963 and helped usher in Beatlemania in 1964. (The Beatles' earliest US issues had been on the independent Vee-Jay label and the key "She Loves You" single on the small Swan label.) Capitol's producers significantly altered the content of the Beatles' albums (see "Record altering") and, believing the Beatles' recordings were unsuited to the US market, modified them. They brightened the sound and piped the recordings through an echo chamber located underneath the parking lots outside the Tower.
Other instances in which Capitol exercised its right of first refusal included its passing on such EMI acts as Dave Clark Five, Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Hollies, and Manfred Mann (among others), all of which had their records issued on Canadian Capitol.
As rock music's influence grew in America, Capitol Records hired Artie Kornfeld, who later co-created and produced the Woodstock Festival, as a vice president in his early 20s, making him the youngest to hold the position and the first vice president of rock and roll ever.
Capitol also signed or became the US distributor of albums by The Lettermen, Badfinger, The Band, Grand Funk Railroad, If, Bobby Darin, Sandler and Young, Glen Campbell, Cathie Taylor, Steve Miller Band, People, Pink Floyd, Linda Ronstadt, The Human Beinz, Peter Tosh and various solo albums by members of the Beatles.
The classic "swirl" 45 RPM label design, pictured to the right, first appeared in January 1962. Originally yellow and orange, it had become yellow and red by the mid-1960s. It was brought back briefly from 1979 to 1981 for use on 45s by The Knack. Before 1968, it also appeared on "Starline" label for reissues, albeit with light and dark green swirls replacing yellow and orange (or red) ones. (Several CD reissues, including an early-1990s version of the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds," used the "swirl" label.)
In 1968, EMI increased its stake in Capitol Records to 98%; However that same year, Capitol merged with Audio Devices, Inc., a manufacturer of computer tape and recording, to form a new holding company called Capitol Industries, Inc., reducing EMI's stake of the company to 68%.
In the summer of 1969, Capitol modernized its logo and replaced its "dome logo" with a "C" logo incorporating a 45 rpm record design. The new logo appeared on a light-green background on albums and a red and orange concentric-circle label on 45's. These became known as the "target" labels. The target label for LP's had a red background for most albums released from May 1971 until November 1972, when both albums and 45's had an orange label with the word "Capitol" printed at the bottom. (In 1971, Grand Funk Railroad became the first Capitol act to be given custom label designs for all its releases, beginning with the "E Pluribus Funk" album.) Budget albums had the same logos but with a yellow backdrop. (The "dome logo" did not disappear entirely: on many labels of this era it can be seen in the small print at the edge.) In 1978, the "dome" design returned with purple backgrounds for rock and pop releases and red backgrounds for soul and disco. Budget albums had the same logo but a blue or green label. Between 1964 and 1970, Tower Records was a subsidiary label. Other short-lived subsidiary labels included Uptown, Crazy Horse and Sidewalk.
In 1972, the company changed its name to Capitol Industries-EMI, Inc. after EMI increased its holdings to 70.84%. By 1976, EMI had purchased the remaining shares. In the seventies, Capitol launched two alternative labels: EMI America Records and EMI Manhattan Records. New artists included Helen Reddy, Anne Murray, Skylark (Canadian band), April Wine, Blondie, Burning Spear, Buzzcocks, David Bowie, Kim Carnes, Rosanne Cash, Max Webster, Natalie Cole, The Goose Creek Symphony, Sammy Hagar, The Knack, Maze, Raspberries, Minnie Riperton, Diana Ross, Bob Seger, Sweet, The Specials, The Sylvers, Ten Wheel Drive, The Stranglers, Tavares, George Thorogood, Wings and The Persuasions. In 1977, EMI merged with THORN Electrical Industries to form Thorn EMI PLC. In 1979, Capitol was merged into the newly formed EMI Music Worldwide division.
Capitol added artists across genres during the 1980s: popular music groups and singers like Richard Marx, The Motels, Tina Turner, George Clinton, Crowded House, Peter Blakeley, Duran Duran (and spinoffs Arcadia and Power Station), Heart, Glass Tiger, Katrina & The Waves, Grace Jones, Lloyd Cole, Pet Shop Boys, Queen, Roxette, Brian Setzer, The Smithereens, Spandau Ballet, and Paul Westerberg; punk/hard rock groups such as Butthole Surfers, Concrete Blonde, Billy Idol, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers; thrash metal bands like Megadeth, Exodus and Rigor Mortis, heavy metal bands like Helix, W.A.S.P., Poison, Iron Maiden and Queensrÿche; rap groups like the Beastie Boys, King Tee, Mantronix; individuals like Mellow Man Ace, Robbie Robertson, Smooth Jazz artist Dave Koz, and Soul singer Freddie Jackson; and duo's like BeBe & CeCe Winans, and even a selective industrial/electronic artists such as Skinny Puppy.
In 1983, the Beatles-era "colorband" label design was brought back, with white print, for both albums and 45's. The last label Capitol used on records was a return to the old purple design with the "dome logo"; after that, compact discs became the dominant format for recorded music. Since the advent of CD's, labels on the discs have varied greatly.
Nineties acts include Selena, Los Tucanes de Tijuana, Blind Melon, Garth Brooks, Meredith Brooks, Coldplay, The Dandy Warhols, Dilated Peoples, Doves, Everclear, Foo Fighters, Geri Halliwell, Ice Cube, Idlewild, Jane's Addiction, The Jesus Lizard, Jimmy Eat World, Ras Kass, Kottonmouth Kings, Ben Lee, Less Than Jake, Luscious Jackson, Tara MacLean, Marcy Playground, Mazzy Star, MC Eiht, MC Hammer, MC Ren, The Moffatts, Moist, Liz Phair, Lisa Marie Presley, Radiohead, Bonnie Raitt, Snoop Dogg, Spearhead, Starsailor, STIR, Supergrass, Télépopmusik, Television, Richard Thompson, Butthole Surfers and Robbie Williams. The Ultra-Lounge series of compilation CDs appeared in 1996.
In 2001, EMI merged Capitol with the Priority Records label. Capitol lost the deal to Viacom and it was no longer a subsidiary. The combined label manages rap artists including Cee-Lo, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, C-Murder, Lil Romeo and Lil Zane. Other 21st-century artists included Katy Perry (whose album, Teenage Dream is the most successful, producing 6 #1 singles), J. Holiday, Jiggolo, LeToya (who had the first #1 album for the label since MC Hammer's 1990 Please Hammer Don't Hurt Em), Zay, Red Cafe, Aslyn, Melissa Auf der Maur, Big Moe, Chingy, The Decemberists, Dexter Freebish, From First to Last, The F-Ups, Faith Evans, Fischerspooner, Interpol, Jonny Greenwood, Shelby Lynne, Kudai, Ed Harcourt, Houston, Van Hunt, Javier, Mae, Matthew Jay, Kylie Minogue, Dave Navarro, OK Go, Lisa Marie Presley, Relient K, Anahí, Belinda Peregrin, Roscoe, RBD, Saosin, Squad Five-O, Otep, The Star Spangles, Steriogram, Skye Sweetnam, The Vines, Yellowcard, Young Bleed, Young Life, Don Yute, Cherish, Shout Out Louds, Hurt, Corinne Bailey Rae, The Magic Numbers, Hedley, End of Fashion, Mims, Keith Urban, Morningwood and Sky Ferreira.
In 2006, the label signed a deal to distribute Fat Joe and his Terror Squad Entertainment. Around the same time, Capitol was able to sign New York phenom Mims. In this deal they also agreed to distribute his American King Music label. Around this time they were added J. Holiday, the main artist for Capitol Music Group as they had become frequent collaborators. Capitol gained ground on other labels such as Def Jam, and Interscope Records with these signings. In 2007, they cut a distribution deal with The Game's The Black Wall Street Records and signed former Bad Boy Records star Faith Evans. Jermaine Dupri and his So So Def Recordings label were briefly signed as a result of the Virgin Records merger. Dupri was the head of urban music for the label.
In February 2007, EMI announced the merger of Virgin Records and Capitol into the Capitol Music Group. As part of this restructuring, hundreds of staff from multiple divisions were laid off and many artists were cut from the roster. In September 2006, EMI announced that it had sold the tower and adjacent properties for $50 million to New York-based developer Argent Ventures. Capitol continued to lease the building as its West Coast office.
Capitol Records filed a lawsuit against Vimeo, an online video-sharing website, for audio copyright infringement. Capitol filed the claim after users were visibly lip-synching to some of their tracks.
In 2012 the recorded music operations of EMI were sold to the Universal Music Group and the world headquarters were established in the Capitol Tower as part of the subsequent reorganization of the Capitol Music Group. Steve Barnett, previously an employee of Columbia Records, was recruited to run the division.
Following a legal action by Capitol Records against the ReDigi.com online company in April 2013, the latter was found to be in violation of copyright law. Capitol Records claimed that ReDigi was guilty of copyright infringement due to a business model that facilitated the creation of additional copies of Capitol's digital music files, whereby users could upload the files for downloading or streaming to the new purchaser of the file. ReDigi argued that the resale of MP3/digital music files is actually permitted under certain doctrines ("fair use" and "first sale") but the court maintained that the doctrines' application "was limited to material items that the copyright owner put into the stream of commerce."
Capitol is to sign a recording contract with the winners of ABC's "Rising Star"
Broadway and films
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Capitol Records released some of the most notable original cast albums and motion picture soundtrack albums ever made. Between 1955 and 1956, they released the soundtracks of three now-classic Rodgers and Hammerstein films, Oklahoma!, Carousel, and The King and I. The mono versions of these soundtrack albums were all released the year that the films were released. The films had been released in then state-of-the-art stereop, so Capitol later released stereo albums of the soundtracks. However, the mono and stereo versions did not always contain identical material. Because stereo grooves took up more space than their mono counterparts, the stereo versions were somewhat shorter than their predecessors. This was not much of a problem with Oklahoma!, because the soundtrack was relatively short. The only piece missing from the stereo edition of the album was a few seconds of the overture. With Carousel, however, half of the Carousel Waltz had to be lopped off, and with The King and I, the instrumental bridge from the song Getting to Know You was removed. These albums (especially Oklahoma!) were bestsellers for Capitol for many years, until, in the 1990s, Angel Records bought the rights to them. Angel Records restored the omitted portions, and in 2001 issued new expanded editions that included all music left out of every previous edition of these soundtracks, bringing the playing time of each to well over an hour.
In 1957 Capitol issued the original cast album of The Music Man, starring Robert Preston, an album that became one of the biggest cast album sellers of all time, even after the highly successful film version of the show was released in 1962. Capitol was also responsible for the original cast and film soundtrack albums of Cole Porter's Can-Can and the original cast album of Stephen Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. In 1962, Capitol issued a studio cast recording of the songs from Lionel Bart's Oliver!, in anticipation of its U.S. tour prior to its opening on Broadway.
In 1966 Capitol released the soundtrack album of the documentary tribute John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums, a film made by the United States Information Agency that, originally, was not produced for general viewing. However, the quality of the film was considered so high that the public was eventually allowed to see it. The film featured the voice of Gregory Peck as narrator, with narration written and music composed by Bruce Herschensohn. The album was virtually a condensed version of the film – it included the narration as well as the music.
One immensely successful spoken word album was the soundtrack of Franco Zeffirelli's smash film Romeo and Juliet, based on Shakespeare's play. The film became the highest grossing Shakespeare film for years, and the album was also a tremendous hit. It featured not only Nino Rota's score, but large chunks of Shakespeare's dialog. The success of this album spurred Capitol to issue two other Romeo and Juliet albums—one a three-disk album that contained the entire soundtrack (dialog and music), and another album that contained only Nino Rota's score.
As Capitol was later accused of doing with Beatles albums, the label modified the Years of Lightning and Romeo and Juliet albums. Extra music was added to some scenes that, in the film, contained little or no music, such as the duel between Romeo and Tybalt. Presumably this was done to show off the score – and at the end of both the abridged and complete versions of the Romeo albums, the end credits music was omitted, especially unfortunate since virtually all of the film's credits were saved for the end of the picture.
The influence of the Romeo and Juliet album briefly spread to other record companies. Columbia Records issued an album of dialog and music excerpts from the successful 1970 Dustin Hoffman film, Little Big Man, and 20th Century Fox Records included George C. Scott's opening and closing speeches, as well as Jerry Goldsmith's score, in their soundtrack album made from the film Patton.
Recasting albums for domestic consumption
As was common practise in the 1950s and 1960s, Capitol modified some albums that were originally released in other countries on other labels.
Possibly most infamous was the company's release pattern for albums by The Beatles. This began with Capitol's release of Meet the Beatles!, the first album by the group to be released by Capitol in the USA. It was based on the British album With the Beatles. Capitol removed five tracks ("Money", "You've Really Got A Hold On Me", "Devil In Her Heart", "Please Mister Postman", and "Roll Over Beethoven") and added both sides of the band's first American hit single ("I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "I Saw Her Standing There") and the British version of the single's B-Side, "This Boy." "I Saw Her Standing There" was on the Beatles first British album "Please Please Me."
They issued "duophonic" stereo releases of some recordings where the original master was monophonic. Capitol engineers split the single master monaural track into two, boosted the bass on the right channel, boosted treble on the left channel and added a split-second delay between channels to produce a "stereo" release. This Duophonic process meant that the Beatles' American fans heard a slightly different song from that heard by the rest of the world if they listened to the stereo version.
This trend continued through the Beatles' American discography. Beatles' albums were released unmodified starting with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. This was thanks to a renegotiation of the Beatles' complicated management and recording contracts. Tired of the way Capitol in the US and other companies around the world were issuing their work in almost unrecognizable forms, beginning in 1967, they had full approval of album titles and cover art, track listing and running order, worldwide. Their first order of business was to stop issuing 45 RPM singles featuring album tracks. Instead they issued non-album tracks as singles between album releases. This policy changed in late 1969 when a severe cash crunch hit the Beatles company, Apple Corp., and the band was forced (at the urgent behest of new manager Allen Klein) to immediately issue a single in conjunction with the Abbey Road album (Something/Come Together) so they could pay bills. Four months later, Apple let Capitol Records issue the singles compilation Hey Jude (aka The Beatles Again) to keep cash flowing.
This continued with other bands:
- Pink Floyd's first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn on the Tower label (a subsidiary of Capitol), had several tracks removed in favor of their first hit single "See Emily Play". This was criticized because the removed tracks combined ("Flaming", "Bike", and "Astronomy Domine") were much longer than "Emily", making the removals completely unnecessary for reasons of running time.
- Iron Maiden's first two albums, Iron Maiden and Killers, had more tracks than their UK counterparts. Iron Maiden's 1980 self-titled debut was released in the US a few months after its UK release with the added track "Sanctuary". Its follow-up, 1981's Killers, was released a few months later in the US, with the added track "Twilight Zone".
- Megadeth's "Risk" album was littered with samples and guitar pieces that Dave Mustaine never authorized, causing him to release one final album on Capitol, Capitol Punishment: The Megadeth Years, and then move to Sanctuary Records. After leaving Sanctuary Records, it was falsely rumored that Megadeth would return to Capitol, but Megadeth then signed with Roadrunner Records.
The company also had a history of making mistakes with album releases; the American release of Klaatu's debut album 3:47 EST had several spelling errors on the track list, and later Capitol pressings of CD versions of Klaatu's albums suffered severe quality problems. The poor sound quality of Duran Duran's May 1982 release Rio (on Capitol subsidiary Harvest) contributed to the lag in initial sales, until a remixed version was released in November.
The Capitol Records Building
Designed by Welton Becket and a young architect from Becket's office, the thirteen-story, earthquake-resistant Capitol Records Tower—home to several recording studios—is one of the most distinctive landmarks in Hollywood and was the world's first circular office building. Although the building was not originally designed as a tribute to record players, the wide curved awnings over the windows on each story, combined with the tall spike that emerges from the top of the building, create an appearance that is similar to a stack of gramophone records on top of a phonograph.
The building was ordered by British company EMI soon after its 1955 acquisition of Capitol Records and was completed in April 1956. The building is located just north of the intersection of Hollywood and Vine and is the center of the Company's consolidated West Coast operations–and was nicknamed "The House That Nat Built" to recognize the enormous financial contributions of Capitol star Nat "King" Cole. The rectangular ground floor is a separate structure, joined to the tower after it was completed.
In mid-2008, a controversy erupted over a plan to build a condominium complex next door, igniting fears that the building's legendary acoustic properties (specifically its renowned underground echo chambers) would be compromised.
The blinking light atop the tower has spelled out the phrase "Hollywood" in Morse code since the building's opening in 1956. This was an idea of Capitol's then president, Alan Livingston, who wanted to subtly advertise Capitol's status as the first record label with a west coast base. The switch activating the light was thrown by Leila Morse, Samuel Morse's granddaughter. In 1992 it temporarily changed to read "Capitol 50" in honor of the label's fiftieth anniversary. It has since returned to spelling "Hollywood".
In the 1974 disaster blockbuster film Earthquake, the tower was shown collapsing during a massive tremor. Thirty years later, in an homage to Earthquake, the tower was again depicted as being destroyed, this time by a massive tornado, in The Day After Tomorrow.
Recently, Capitol Records and artist Richard Wyatt Jr. joined forces to restore his iconic Hollywood Jazz Mural on the south wall of the Capitol Records building. Restored in hand-glazed ceramic tile, the mural spans 26 by 88 feet (7.9 by 26.8 m) Entitled "Hollywood Jazz: 1945-1972", this masterpiece presents “larger than life” images of: Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Charlie Parker, Tito Puente, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Shelly Manne, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. The mural also depicts names of prominent jazz legends etched upon a stone background, including names such as, John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan, Charles Mingus, Buddy Collette, Teddy Edwards, Art Tatum, Cannonball Adderley, McCoy Tyner and others.
The studios feature 10-inch-thick (250 mm) concrete exterior walls, surrounding a one-inch air gap, surrounding an inner wall that floats on layers of rubber and cork – all in an effort to provide complete sound isolation.
The facility features echo chambers: subterranean concrete bunkers allowing engineers to add reverberations during the recording process. The eight chambers are located 30 feet (9.1 m) underground. They are trapezoidal with 10-inch concrete walls and 12-inch-thick (300 mm) concrete ceilings. The chambers feature speakers on one side and microphones on the other, permitting an echo effect of up to five seconds.
Studios A and B can be combined for the recording of orchestral music and symphonic film soundtracks. The first album recorded in the tower was Frank Sinatra Conducts Tone Poems of Color.
Capitol Records of Canada was established in 1949 by independent businessman W. Lockwood Miller. Capitol Records broke with Miller's company and formed Capitol Record Distributors of Canada Limited in 1954. EMI acquired this company when it acquired Capitol Records. The company was renamed Capitol Records of Canada Ltd in 1958 after Miller's rights to the name expired. In 1959, Capitol of Canada picked up distribution rights for sister EMI labels Angel Records, Pathe Records, Odeon Records and Parlophone Records. In 1957, Paul White joined Capitol of Canada and in 1960 established an A&R department independent of the American company to promote talent for the Canadian market. They found homegrown Canadian talent such as Anne Murray as well as EMI artists from other countries. Canada-only issues bore 6000 series catalog numbers for LPs and 72000 series catalog numbers for singles. Capitol Canada issues of American Capitol recordings bore the same catalog numbers as their American counterparts. Beginning in 1962, Capitol of Canada issued albums by British artists such as Cliff Richard, Helen Shapiro and Frank Ifield. They accepted The Beatles long before the American company. By 1967, they were distributing non-EMI labels such as Disneyland Records, Buena Vista Records, 20th Century Fox Records and Pickwick Records. The company was renamed "Capitol Records-EMI of Canada" in 1974, before the "EMI Music Canada" name was adopted in 1993.
In 1982, Capitol Records-EMI of Canada developed the "SDR", or Super Dynamic Range, process for duplicating cassettes, which resulted in higher-quality audio. SDR was adopted by Capitol's American operations later that year and renamed "XDR" (eXtended Dynamic Range). SDR/XDR cassette releases are noted for their use of a short burst of tones ascending in frequency at the beginning and end of the cassette, before and after the program material.
The Canadian branch of Capitol won two Juno Awards in 1971, the leading music awards in that country. One Juno was for "Top Record Company" and the other was for "Top Promotional Company".
EMI Music Canada was absorbed into Universal Music Canada which retained the Capitol imprint.
Capitol Latin focuses on Latin music artists in Latin America and the United States. It was founded in 1989 as EMI Latin and was renamed to Capitol Latin in 2009. Capitol Latin was merged with Universal Music Latin Entertainment in 2013.
Capitol Music Taiwan was established in 2006. It is home to several megastar artists in the Chinese music industry. They include Jolin Tsai (蔡依林), Stefanie Sun (孫燕姿), Zhang Hui Mei (張惠妹), Stanley Huang (黄立行) and Show Luo (羅志祥). Even though artists are signed to this label, the albums are released under EMI Music Taiwan. The label had the highest sales among all labels in Taiwan between 2006 and 2008.
In 2008, EMI Music Taiwan was acquired by Paco Wong's Gold Label Records and reformed as Gold Typhoon Entertainment Limited (金牌大風). The name is in reference to Jolin's Love Exercise album released after the acquisition. However the label of "Capitol Music" is not part of Gold Typhoon.
Beginning in 1948, Capitol Records were released in the UK on the Capitol label by Decca Records. After EMI acquired Capitol, they took over distribution in 1956. EMI's Parlophone unit handled Capitol label marketing in the UK in later years. In 2012, EMI was sold to Universal Music Group. The European Union forced EMI to spin off assets for antitrust reasons, including Parlophone. As a result, Universal Music launched Capitol as an autonomous label in the UK with the rights to The Beatles' recorded music catalog. This marks the first time that the Capitol label in the UK operated as an autonomous label.
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- Christopher Hawthorne (29 May 2011). "Critic's Notebook: Hollywood landmark at a crossroads". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Capitol Records.|
- Capitol Records
- Capitol of Canada official site
- A history of Capitol Records
- 3D model of the Capitol Tower for use in Google Earth
- The Judy Garland Online Discography "Capitol Records" pages.
- Capitol Records's channel on YouTube
- Capitol Records Myspace page.
- Capitol of Canada 72000 series singles discography
- Capitol of Canada 6000 series LP discography
- Swirl Daze – The 1960s Capitol Singles Discography