Cherry Red Records

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Cherry Red
Founded 1978
Founder Iain McNay
Richard Jones
Distributor(s) Proper Music Distribution
Genre Punk rock, alternative rock
Country of origin United Kingdom
Location London, England
Official website

Cherry Red Records is a British independent record label founded by Iain McNay in 1978. The label has released recordings by Dead Kennedys, Everything But the Girl, The Monochrome Set, and Felt, among others, as well as the compilation album Pillows & Prayers. In addition to releasing new music, Cherry Red also acts as an umbrella for individual imprints and catalogue specialists.

Cherry Red is listed by Music Week[1] as one of the UK’s top ten record companies in Q1 2015 for sales of artist albums.


Cherry Red grew from the rock promotion company (similarly named after the song "Cherry Red" by The Groundhogs) founded in 1971 to promote rock concerts at the Malvern Winter Gardens. In the wake of the independent record boom that followed the advent of punk rock, founders Iain McNay (who remains company chairman) and Richard Jones released the label's first single, "Bad Hearts" by local punk band The Tights, in June 1978.

Cherry Red's early roster included releases by Morgan Fisher under various pseudonyms, using a small studio installed in his Notting Hill flat, as well as material licensed from The Hollywood Brats, Destroy All Monsters and The Runaways. The latter was the label's biggest seller until McNay invested $10,000 in the recording of the debut studio album by San Franciscan political punk band Dead Kennedys. Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1979) and its attendant singles sold well worldwide. New A&R head Mike Alway had promoted the Snoopies venue in Richmond, London and been involved with the Scissor Fits, and signed groups including The Monochrome Set, Everything But The Girl, Eyeless in Gaza, Felt, and Five Or Six. McNay's view aimed for Cherry Red to be a label that offered a space for artists who would otherwise not fit the image of some of the more succinctly defined and stylised independents. "Cherry Red Records was always about musical individuality, diversity, character, commitment and passion," he stated in 2008.[2] They also marketed other smaller independent record labels, like Bristol's Heartbeat Records, who recorded the Glaxo Babies.

Cherry Red's role as one of the keynote labels of the early '80s independent scene was confirmed by the success of a budget compilation album compiled by Alway and released at Christmas 1982. Retailing for 99p, Pillows & Prayers topped the independent charts for several weeks.

Cherry Red continued to sign contemporary artists but increasingly moved into the reissue market from the late 1980s onwards. It has a number of subsidiary labels dealing in genre-specific releases, curating many "critically unloved" musical genres, in partial continuation of McNay's earlier advocacy of the unfashionable.

The company has also signed agreements with a number of specialist reissue labels, which operate with a degree of autonomy using Cherry Red's logistical and financial support. Mark Stratford's RPM Records label focuses on pop music from the 1960s to the advent of punk. Esoteric Recordings, headed by Mark Powell, specialises in progressive rock and folk catalogue. Mark Brennan heads 7T's Records, which reissues albums by that decade's glam/glitter generation. (Brennan originally helped Cherry Red form one of its first subsidiary labels, Anagram, covering punk, Psychobilly and Goth, which remains active). él Records continues under the auspices of Mike Alway (but purely as a re-release label), alongside other labels including Poker, Giant Steps, Mortarhate, Now Sounds, and Ork. The Cherry Red label group continues to house reissues, but is also active in the release of new studio material by established artists such as The Fall, Suzi Quatro, Marc Almond, Red Box, Van Der Graaf Generator, Jah Wobble & Keith Levene, Squackett (a collaboration between Steve Hackett and Chris Squire), Hussey-Regan (a collaboration between Wayne Hussey and Julianne Regan), Hazel O'Connor, The Christians and Ken Hensley.

Still headed by McNay, a fan and director of AFC Wimbledon, alongside managing director Adam Velasco, Cherry Red also has interests in football-related releases, with the most complete catalogue of soccer-related songs extant.

In 2007, the company launched a streaming television service, cherry red TV. It also publishes an in-house magazine and an 'in-house' publishing division, 'Cherry Red Songs'.[3]

In early 2015, Cherry Red Records and PWL reissued the first four Kylie Minogue albums, Kylie, Enjoy Yourself, Rhythm Of Love and Let's Get To It, as deluxe CD/DVD and LP boxsets.[4]

Cherry Red also released a plethora of prestigious frontline albums by established artists that year, including Marc Almond's The Velvet Trail, The Zombies' Still Got That Hunger, Sarah Cracknell's Red Kite, Andy Bell of Erasure's Torsten The Bareback Saint, Jimmy Somerville's Homage, The Fall's Sub-Lingual Tablet and Wolfgang Flür's (ex-Kraftwerk) Eloquence to name a few.

In 2016 Cherry Red had their highest Top 40 chart position, with the new studio album from Hawkwind 'The Machine Stops' reaching No.29 in the Official UK Charts in April 2016.[5] They are also due to release the brand new studio album from Van Der Graaf Generator in September.

Notable awards and prizes[edit]

In June 2008 the Pillows & Prayers box set won the 'Best Catalogue Release category at that year's Mojo Honours.[6]

At the 2013 Association of Independent Music Awards, Cherry Red won the Special Catalogue Release award for Scared To Get Happy - a box set that explored indie pop from 1980-1989.[7]

In 2014, Cherry Red artist Dave Brock (of legendary space rockers Hawkwind) won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the inaugural Prog (magazine) Progressive Music Awards 2014. They also picked up nominations for Matt Stevens (Breakthrough Artist) and Panic Room (Best Anthem).

The 2015 Progressive Music Awards saw Genesis founder Tony Banks receive the Prog God award after his solo material catalogue reissue campaign with Cherry Red that year. The label also picked up nominations[8] for John Lodge and Tin Spirits in the Best Anthem category, and Bill Nelson and Anthony Phillips in the Storm Thorgerson Grand Design Award category.

2016 has seen Cherry Red's biggest release of the first quarter of the year, the new studio album from Hawkwind 'The Machine Stops', receive a nomination for Album Of The Year in the Progressive Music Awards 2016,[9] after it enjoyed Cherry Red's highest ever Top 40 chart position at No.29 in the Official UK Charts in April 2016.

Cherry Red artists[edit]

Original label artists[edit]

Reissue label artists[edit]

Cherry Red associated imprint labels[edit]

The full repertoire of Cherry Red associated imprint labels as of 2016:[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Music Week". Music Week. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  2. ^ "I'll Give You My Heart box set sleeve notes". 2008. 
  3. ^ "Cherry Red Licensing". Cherry Red Licensing. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  4. ^ "PWL - Pete Waterman Entertainment | Step Back In Time - The PWL Kylie Minogue Reissue Campaign". 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2016-01-21. 
  5. ^ "Official Charts Company". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  6. ^ "MOJO Award Winners". BBC 6. 16 June 2008. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "AIM Independent Music Awards: 2013 - The Association of Independent Music". 2013-09-03. Retrieved 2016-01-21. 
  8. ^ "Prog Magazine". Team Rock. Team Rock. 24 June 2015. 
  9. ^ "Progressive Music Awards". Team Rock. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  10. ^ "Cherry Red Records". Cherry Red Records. Archived from the original on 11 January 2011. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  11. ^ "Kylie Minogue / box sets & reissues". Superdeluxeedition. Retrieved 2016-01-21. 
  12. ^ "Cherry Red Records". Cherry Red Records Official Website. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 

External links[edit]