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|Parent company||Pye Ltd. then ATV|
|Country of origin||UK|
Pye Records was a British record label. Its best known artists were Lonnie Donegan (1956–69), Petula Clark (1957–71), The Searchers (1963–67), The Kinks (1964–71), Sandie Shaw (1964–1971) and Brotherhood of Man (1975–79). The label changed its name in 1980, but was briefly reactivated in 2006.
The Pye Company originally manufactured televisions and radios. Its main plant was situated off what used to be Haig Road, in Cambridge, and it entered the record business when it bought Nixa Records in 1953. In 1955, the company acquired Polygon Records, a label that had been established by Petula Clark's father to control distribution of her recordings, and merged it with Nixa Records to form Pye Nixa Records.
In 1958, Pye International Records was started. The company licensed recordings from American and other foreign labels for the UK market, including Chess, A&M, Kama Sutra, Colpix, Warner Bros., Buddah, 20th Century, and King. It also released recordings from British artist Labi Siffre which were produced outside the company.
In 1959, Pye Nixa became Pye Records and ATV acquired 50% of the label. ATV bought the other half of the business in 1966. The company entered the budget-priced album market in 1957, reissuing older Pye material on Pye Golden Guinea Records, priced at a guinea (one pound and one shilling). This was closed in the seventies and eventually replaced by Marble Arch Records, selling at an even lower price. Pye also offered a series of "4D" quadraphonic albums, using the Sansui QS matrix system.
Piccadilly and Dawn labels
Another, full-price, subsidiary, Piccadilly Records, was for new pop acts, including Joe Brown & the Bruvvers, Clinton Ford, The Rockin' Berries, Sounds Orchestral, Al Saxon, The Sorrows and, later on, the Ivy League. In 1969, Pye launched a less mainstream label for folk, jazz, blues and progressive acts, Dawn Records, the most successful Dawn act being Mungo Jerry.
As PRT Records
When the rights to the name Pye expired in 1980, the label changed its name to PRT, which stood for Precision Records and Tapes. At that time, it had sub-labels such as Fanfare Records, a late 1980s and early 1990s UK-based Hi-NRG label issuing records by Sinitta; R&B Records, an 1980s disco/electro label featuring Imagination; and Splash Records, which featured Jigsaw and the Richard Hewson Orchestra/RAH Band. PRT ceased operations in 1989.
In July 2006, Pye Records was reactivated by Sanctuary Records as an indie and alternative label, featuring artists such as Scottish alternative rock group Idlewild. However, plans for continued usage of the Pye name were abandoned when Universal Music Group bought Sanctuary in 2007. Pye Records was a subsidiary to ATV Music Publishing which was bought by Michael Jackson in 1985. Ten years later, Jackson merged ATV Music Publishing with Sony and it was renamed Sony/ATV Music Publishing. The company became the second largest music publisher in the world.
Pye international divisions
Pye in the US
Starting with the "British Invasion" of 1964, Pye placed their artists in the US mostly on labels that they distributed in the UK: The Searchers to Mercury Records, Liberty Records, and finally Kapp Records, The Kinks to Cameo Records and then to Reprise Records, David Bowie, The Sorrows and Petula Clark to Warner Bros. Records, Donovan to Hickory Records, and Status Quo to Chess Records (which issued their records on their newly created Cadet Concept Records label).
From 1969 to 1971, Pye was a co-owner with GRT (General Recorded Tape) of Janus Records, which at the outset served as the US label for such Pye acts as Jefferson, Sounds Orchestral, Pickettywitch, Mungo Jerry and Status Quo, and also re-issued the early (pre-1966) recordings of Donovan. Pye sold its share of Janus back to GRT in 1971.
In 1972, Bell Records set up a short-lived Pye label, featuring Michel Pagliaro, a Canadian artist whose first English-language album was issued on UK Pye (largely recorded in England), and Jackie McAuley, whose lone solo album was originally issued on UK Dawn. The label only lasted a very short time.
In 1974, Pye established an American version of its record label. The label was not a success, however, and closed its US operations in 1976. The head of the US division, Marvin Schlachter, then started Prelude Records, named after one of Pye's acts of the time, Prelude; its initial LP and 45 catalogue series were carried over from the ill-fated American Pye label (with the catalogue prefix changed from PYE- to PRL-), and Prelude had a string of disco and dance music hits into the early 1980s.
Pye in Canada
Whilst Pye did not have its own operations in Canada, it arranged with Canadian record companies to issue Pye recordings on the Pye label in Canada. Before then, Quality Records issued Pye recordings on the Quality label. Their earliest Pye Canada releases such as Lonnie Donegan's "My Old Man's A Dustman" were distributed by Astral Music Sales. Around 1963, distribution shifted to Allied Record Corporation. In 1968 distribution shifted to Phonodisc.
Artists on Pye Records
(including the US labels that issued records by the artists during the time they were on Pye)
- The Bachelors
- Sounds Orchestral (issued in US on Parkway)
- Long John Baldry (issued in US on Warner Bros.)
- Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen (issued in US on Kapp)
- Trader Horne
- Acker Bilk
- Chris Barber's Jazzband (issued in US on Laurie)
- David Bowie (1965–1966; issued in US on Warner Bros.)
- The Brook Brothers (1961–64)
- Brotherhood of Man (1975–1979)
- Max Bygraves made a successful series of singalong albums for Pye
- Petula Clark (1957–1971: in addition to dozens of singles, her output for Pye included seventeen albums. Issued in US on Laurie and then on Warner Bros.)
- Clem Curtis
- Joe Dolan
- Lonnie Donegan (1956–1969; issued in US on Mercury, Atlantic, then Dot)
- Donovan (1965–1971; issued in US on Hickory and then Epic)
- Carl Douglas (issued in the US on 20th Century Fox)
- The Enid
- Episode Six (issued in US on Elektra for 1 single only)
- The Flying Machine (1969; issued in US on Congress and then Janus)
- Emile Ford and the Checkmates
- The Foundations (issued in the US on Uni)
- Brian Joseph Friel (issued in the US on ATV Records)
- Benny Hill (1961–1965)
- The Honeycombs (1964–1966; issued in the US on Interphon and then Warner Bros.)
- Idlewild (2006)
- The Ivy League (1965–1966; issued in the US on Cameo)
- Tony Jackson and the Vibrations (1964–1966; issued in the US on Kapp, and then Red Bird)
- Jimmy James & The Vagabonds
- The Kinks (1964–1971; issued in the US on Cameo and then Reprise)
- Vera Lynn (1979–1981)
- Gerald Masters (1977–1980)
- Mungo Jerry (1970–1974; issued in the US on Janus and then Bell)
- Olivia Newton-John (Olivia, Festival, Australia, 1972)
- Maxine Nightingale
- The Migil 5 (1964–1965)
- Des O'Connor
- Lennie Peters (1966)
- The Real Thing (1976–1979)
- Joan Regan (1960–1961)
- The Remo Four
- Donn Reynolds (1958-1959)
- Ritchie Valens (1958; issued in the US on Del-Fi Records.
- The Searchers (1963–1967; issued in the US on Mercury, Liberty and then Kapp)
- Sandie Shaw (1964–1972; issued in the US on Reprise)
- Labi Siffre (1970–1973, Pye International)
- Hurricane Smith (1976–1977)
- The Sorrows (1964–1966; issued in the US on Warner Bros.)
- Status Quo (1968–1971; issued in the US on Cadet Concept and then Janus)
- Graduate (1979)
- Tommy Steele
- Frankie Vaughan (1973–1978)
- Velvett Fogg (1969)
- Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band (issued in the US on Kapp)
- Mark Wynter (1962–1968)
- Tyrone Ashley (1976)
Vinyl used for pressings
Pye records pressed in the UK used vinyl that was different from all other manufacturers. When held up to a bright light, it was semi-translucent, and appeared to be a deep cherry red.