Chrysalis Records

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Chrysalis Records
Chrysalis Records new logo.jpg
Founded1968; 54 years ago (1968)
FounderChris Wright
Terry Ellis
StatusUK and Europe: Independent record company, owned by Reservoir Media Management
Rest of the world: defunct, merged into Universal Music Group
Distributor(s)U.S. and Canadian catalogues including those of Ramones, Robbie Williams and Belinda Carlisle: Universal Music Group

Most non-North American catalogues, plus the rights to artists not originally signed to Chrysalis: Blue Raincoat Music/Reservoir Media Management

  • Reservoir Media Management

Catalogues of Spandau Ballet, Jethro Tull, Ramones and The Proclaimers: Warner Music Group

Country of originUnited Kingdom
Official website

Chrysalis Records (/ˈkrɪsəlɪs/) is a British record label that was founded in 1968. The name is both a reference to the pupal stage of a butterfly and a combination of its founders' names, Chris Wright and Terry Ellis.[1] It started as the Ellis-Wright Agency.[2]


Early years[edit]

In an interview for Jethro Tull's video 20 Years of Jethro Tull, released in 1988, Wright states "Chrysalis Records might have come into being anyway, you never know what might have happened, but Chrysalis Records really came into being because Jethro Tull couldn't get a record deal and MGM couldn't even get their name right on the record". This was after the single "Sunshine Day/Aeroplane" was incorrectly credited to 'Jethro Toe'.

Chrysalis entered into a licensing deal with Chris Blackwell's Island Records for distribution, based on the success of bands like Jethro Tull, Ten Years After and Procol Harum, which were promoted by the label. Jethro Tull signed with Reprise Records in the United States, which led Chrysalis to an American distribution deal with Reprise's parent company, Warner Bros. Records. This lasted from 1972 until U.S. Chrysalis switched to independent distribution in 1976. PolyGram handled international distribution and Festival Records covered Australia and New Zealand. In 1973, it signed British rock band UFO. Towards the end of the 1970s, the label began to extend its range of music, incorporating acts from the punk rock scene such as Generation X. The Chrysalis offshoot 2 Tone Records brought in bands such as The Specials and The Selecter.[3]

In 1979, Chrysalis bought and distributed U.S. folk label Takoma Records, naming manager/producer Denny Bruce as president, who signed The Fabulous Thunderbirds and T-Bone Burnett. Jon Monday who was Vice President of Takoma Records prior to the acquisition continued as General Manager,[4] later becoming Director of Marketing of Chrysalis Records.

Chrysalis made history in 1979 by creating the first "music video album", a videocassette featuring a corresponding music video for each song on Blondie's Eat to the Beat album (released at the same time as the LP).

In the 1980s, Chrysalis was at the forefront of the British new romantic movement with bands such as Gen X, Ultravox, and Spandau Ballet. The 1980s proved to be the most successful time for the label, whose roster then included Billy Idol, Pat Benatar, Blondie and Huey Lewis and the News.[5] Chrysalis also distributed Animal Records, the short-lived label founded by Blondie guitarist, Chris Stein. In 1983, after the label re-established itself in New York, Eric Heckman, formally of Atlantic and Epic Records promotion took over as Senior Director of Promotion and Marketing. Also in 1983, Daniel Glass moved to Chrysalis as Director of New Music Marketing, advancing later to Senior Vice President. During the next two years Chrysalis broke Huey Lewis and the News, Billy Idol and Spandau Ballet in the United States, whilst Pat Benatar continued to find success on both the traditional and dance music charts.

In 1984, Chrysalis bought Ensign Records, a record label Nigel Grainge started in 1976 (with the label's name coming from the idea that 'N. signs' as in 'Nigel Signs') which would go on to have The Waterboys, World Party and Sinéad O'Connor on its roster in the late 1980s.[6][7][8] Ensign joined TV marketing/compilations company Dover Records and dance label Cooltempo[9][10][11] as part of the Chrysalis family,[12] with Grainge staying on to run the label that he founded.


50% of the Chrysalis Records label was sold in 1989, then the remaining half in 1991 to Thorn EMI,[5] with the Chrysalis Group (primarily a music publisher with other interests in radio and television production) setting up new indie labels such as Echo and Papillion in the mid 1990s.[13] Chrysalis Records was folded into EMI subsidiary and flagship label EMI Records in 2005, with catalogue and artists such as Starsailor being shifted to EMI's main imprints. In 2010, BMG Rights Management bought Chrysalis Music's assets (the publishing division and The Echo Label),[14] whilst the British Chrysalis Records catalogue (minus Robbie Williams, whose catalogue stayed behind with Universal's Island Records) was put up for sale by Universal Music Group in 2012 after its acquisition of EMI.

In July 2013, Warner Music Group completed acquisition of Parlophone Label Group, which includes the British Chrysalis catalogue, for £487 million.[15] When Universal Music Group purchased EMI ownership of Chrysalis passed to UMG, and Warner Music Group acquired a part of EMI from UMG, including the original Chrysalis Records Ltd with its catalogue of 130 artists.

The American and Canadian Chrysalis catalogue, including artists such as Blondie, Huey Lewis and The News, and Pat Benatar, was acquired by CEMA, later EMI-Capitol Special Markets, which was folded into EMI Records Group (ERG) North America, and was then merged into Capitol Music Group, parent of former sister label Capitol Records, and is currently distributed by that label. Debbie Harry's only Chrysalis album released in the US, KooKoo, was later divested by Capitol after the merger. The Ramones' North American distribution catalogue was later acquired by another sister label of Capitol's, Geffen Records, distributed by Universal Music Enterprises, but the British distribution of Ramones' Chrysalis catalogue remained with Parlophone.

Later ownership[edit]

Chrysalis Records was bought in May 2016 from WMG in a deal led by Blue Raincoat Music's Jeremy Lascelles and Sade's Diamond Life producer Robin Millar. The agreement saw the co-founder and original owner of Chrysalis, Chris Wright, reunited with the label as non-executive chairman, 27 years after selling the company to EMI.[16] Former Virgin Media boss Robert Devereux was also part of the original consortium.[17]

Chrysalis Records has represented over 20,000 recordings comprising many British and other, chiefly American, rock and pop tracks from the 1960s to 1990s. Artists on the roster include The Specials, Sinead O'Connor, The Waterboys, Ten Years After, Debbie Harry, Fun Boy Three, Ultravox, Lucinda Williams, Dario G, Generation X, the Two Tone label, Grant Lee Buffalo, Everything but the Girl, Athlete, Fun Lovin' Criminals, Suzi Quatro, Steve Harley, Naked Eyes and many more.

After the 2016 purchase, the pre-2013 Chrysalis catalogues of namely Spandau Ballet, The Proclaimers, Jethro Tull and Ramones (only in the UK) stayed behind with WMG. The non-Ramones British reissues from Parlophone are distributed outside Europe by Rhino Entertainment, while the North American rights to Naked Eyes' albums, originally released by EMI America, stayed with Capitol Records, and the non-American rights to Belinda Carlisle's only Chrysalis album, A Woman & a Man, were ceded to her former label, Virgin Records.

In 2018, the Cooltempo label was relaunched by Blue Raincoat Music[18][19][20] with the release of the Eye Ring EP by Francesca Lombardo[21] and Infinity Ink's debut album House of Infinity.[22] In August 2019, music rights company, Reservoir, partnered with Blue Raincoat, to make the Chrysalis record label part of Reservoir's extended global infrastructure and network.[23]


Chrysalis Records relaunched itself as a front line label in February 2020, marking a return to releasing new music for the first time in over two decades.[24] The first signing was in partnership with award winning independent label Partisan Records.[25] The labels came together to sign British singer/songwriter Laura Marling in a fully co-branded global release. As the first project released on Chrysalis' re-launched frontline label, Marling's album, Song for Our Daughter, debuted in April 2020 to critical acclaim and a Mercury Prize nomination.[26]

In September 2020, Chrysalis signed the indie singer-songwriter Liz Phair.[27] Her raw lyrical style made her a trailblazer for a raft of female artists in alternative music, when she began to make records at the start of the 1990s.[28] Phair's first album in a decade, Soberish, came out later in 2021.[29][30]

On 6 August 2021, the second album from Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay's project, Lump (styled in all caps),[31] titled Animal[32][33][34] charted at number 65 on the UK Albums Chart,[35] and was one of the Top 20 selling albums for that week (6 August - 12 August 2021).[36]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jason Nisse (7 February 1993). "Profile: A truly passionate sport: Chris Wright of Chrysalis outplayed BSkyB in football with his Italian job and is now revving up a car racing deal. Jason Nisse on a music man with perfect pitch". The Independent. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  2. ^ Ben Sisario (27 November 2010). "Music Publisher BMG Buying Chrysalis in $168 Million Deal". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  3. ^ "History of Chrysalis Group plc". FundingUniverse. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  4. ^ Billboard - Google Books. 2 June 1979. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  5. ^ a b Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 479. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  6. ^ Cashmere, Paul (13 June 2017). "R.I.P. Nigel Grange Founder Of Ensign Records Aged 70".
  7. ^ "Nigel Grainge, A&R legend, founder of Ensign Records and brother of Lucian, Dies at 70". 13 June 2017.
  8. ^ Halperin, Shirley (12 June 2017). "Nigel Grainge, Ensign Records Founder and Brother of Universal Music Chief, Dies at 70".
  9. ^ "Blue Raincoat Music revives classic label Cooltempo Records".
  10. ^ "'It's a great brand with a great name': Blue Raincoat revives Cooltempo imprint". Music Week.
  11. ^ "Memories of the music mogul who called tune at Chrysalis". Evening Standard. 16 October 2013.
  12. ^ "'I can't think of a single artist who's benefited from switching to a major label'". [PIAS]. 2 June 2016.
  13. ^ "Echo". 8 December 2015.
  14. ^ "Chrysalis agrees to takeover by BMG". The Guardian. 26 November 2010.
  15. ^ "Warner Music Group Completes Acquisition of Parlophone Label Group" (Press release). Warner Music Group. 1 July 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  16. ^ "Chrysalis Records acquired by Blue Raincoat Music founders Jeremy Lascelles and Robin Millar". Music Week. 1 June 2016. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  17. ^ "Chrysalis Records To Be Re-Born After Acquisition". 1 June 2016. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  18. ^ "Blue Raincoat revives Cooltempo label with Armada Music alliance". Complete Music Update. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  19. ^ "Blue Raincoat: We'll break artists on revived Cooltempo". Music Week.
  21. ^ "Francesca Lombardo - Eye Ring [Dance Remixes] -IDJ Magazine".
  22. ^ "Infinity Ink - House of Infinity LP (Cooltempo)". Knights of the Turntable. 27 February 2019.
  23. ^ "The iconic Chrysalis Records has a new home – at fast-growing Reservoir". Music Business Worldwide. 29 August 2019. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  24. ^ "UK-based Chrysalis Records re-launches as frontline label". Music Business Worldwide. 26 February 2020. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  25. ^ "Partisan looks to the future after Music Week Awards win". Music Week. 22 September 2020. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  26. ^ "Mercury prize 2020: Stormzy, Dua Lipa and Michael Kiwanuka among nominees". The Guardian. 23 July 2020. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  27. ^ "Liz Phair joins Chrysalis as reborn label's first US signing". Music Week. 9 September 2020. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  28. ^ "Liz Phair signs to the re-launched Chrysalis Records". Record of the Day. 9 September 2020. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  29. ^ "Liz Phair's first album in a decade, 'Soberish,' coming out in 2021". BrooklynVegan. 10 September 2020. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  30. ^ "Liz Phair Signs with Chrysalis Records and Will Release a New Album in 2021". 9 September 2020. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  31. ^ "LUMP". Blue Raincoat Music. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  32. ^ Moody, Mark. "Animal". Under the Radar. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  33. ^ "LUMP: "[It's a huge joy] to just dive into something in a completely different world"". DIY. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  34. ^ "LUMP return with news of second album and unveil first single "Animal"". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  35. ^ "LUMP | full Official Chart History". Official Charts. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  36. ^ "Official Albums Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts. Retrieved 19 August 2021.

External links[edit]