Dark Horse Records

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Dark Horse Records
Dark Horse Records logo.jpg
Dark Horse Records' original logo
FoundedMay 1974
FounderGeorge Harrison
Distributor(s)A&M Records (1974–76)
Warner Bros. Records (1976–94)
EMI (2002–04)
Rhino (2010)
Universal Music Group (2017–2020)
BMG Rights Management (2020-present)
GenreRock, Indian classical, soul
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Official websitewww.darkhorserecords.com

Dark Horse Records is a record label founded by former Beatle George Harrison in 1974. The label's formation coincided with the winding down of the Beatles' Apple Records and allowed Harrison to continue supporting other artists' projects while maintaining his solo career. The initial signings were Indian musician Ravi Shankar and Splinter, the latter of whom provided the label with its only significant commercial success until Harrison himself signed with Dark Horse in 1976. The label was distributed internationally by A&M Records for the first two years of its operation. Following a highly publicised split with A&M, Harrison and Dark Horse formed a long-term partnership with Warner Bros. Records that lasted until the expiration of his contract in 1994.

Attitudes, Stairsteps and Keni Burke were among the other artists who recorded for Dark Horse, although it increasingly became a vehicle for Harrison's solo releases once Warner's had taken over distribution. After a ten-year period of inactivity, the label returned in 2002 with the posthumous release of Harrison's final studio album, Brainwashed, followed by his Dark Horse Years box set in 2004. Dark Horse Records also issued the Shankar–Harrison compilation box set Collaborations in 2010.

In March 2021, the record label released Assembly, a new remastered collection of Joe Strummer's solo work.[1]


First trade ad for Dark Horse Records, August 1974

It went crazy in the end, Apple, but it did give some good people an outlet. That’s why I’m here now with Dark Horse Records – Apple didn’t shake my faith that much. Good musicians are worth encouraging.[2][3]

– George Harrison to Melody Maker, 1975

Since the formation of the Beatles' EMI-affiliated Apple Records in 1968, George Harrison had produced and helped nurture acts signed to the label, including Jackie Lomax, Billy Preston and Badfinger, all of whom were little known at the time.[4] Following the Beatles' break-up in 1970, Harrison continued in this role while maintaining a successful solo career,[5] adding prestigious signings such as Ravi Shankar and Ronnie Spector to Apple's roster.[6] By 1973, when he was producing an ambitious "East-meets-West" album by Shankar[7] and the debut by a duo from South Shields, Splinter,[8] Apple was being wound down following Harrison, John Lennon and Ringo Starr severing their ties with Beatles manager Allen Klein.[9] While all the former Beatles were contractually obliged to EMI until 26 January 1976, as solo artists,[10][11] Harrison sought a new avenue for his extracurricular projects.[9][12] He and Starr considered buying Apple in 1973 and running it themselves,[12] but Harrison was wary of business complications associated with the label.[9][13]

In early 1974, he began a dialogue with David Geffen, head of Asylum Records in Los Angeles,[14] and, according to Tom Petty's later recollection, he also consulted Leon Russell, co-founder of Shelter Records, about setting up a label.[15] Harrison eventually agreed terms with A&M Records for the latter to distribute his new label worldwide.[16][17] For a company name, Harrison used the title of a song he had written in 1973, "Dark Horse".[18] The inspiration for the Dark Horse Records logo came from a label on a tin that Harrison found during a trip to India.[19] The logo features the seven-headed horse Uchchaisravas, a common figure in Indian art and mythology.


After Harrison signed with Dark Horse Records on 27 January 1976,[20] all of his subsequent recordings were released through the label, starting with that year's Thirty Three & 1/3 and ending with Live in Japan in 1992.[21][22] After the latter, it went into hiatus for ten years.

Dark Horse was distributed by A&M Records (1974–76),[23] Warner Bros. Records (1976–94)[24] and EMI (2002–04).

Dark Horse was revived with the posthumous release of Brainwashed in 2002. Harrison's back catalogue on the label was remastered and reissued as the Dark Horse Years 1976–1992 box set during 2004. In 2010, Dark Horse released the Ravi Shankar–George Harrison box set Collaborations, with distribution through Rhino Entertainment.[25]

In 2017 all original Apple and Dark Horse Records albums were reissued and distributed by Universal Music Group.

On 22 January 2020, Dark Horse signed a distribution deal with BMG Rights Management.[26] The deal marked the label's revival by Harrison's son Dhani, who announced that it had acquired Joe Strummer's catalogue.[27]


Though Dark Horse ultimately focused solely on Harrison's releases, the label also released albums by the following artists between 1974 and 1978:[21][22]


Catalogue Number Artist Title Release Date
United Kingdom
United States
United Kingdom
United States
AMS 7133 DH-10001 Ravi Shankar "I Am Missing You" / "Lust" 13.09.74 06.11.74
AMS 7135 DH-10002 Splinter "Costafine Town" / "Elly May" 07.11.74
AMS 5501 Splinter "Drink All Day" / "Haven't Got Time" 07.02.75
AMS 5502 Splinter "China Light" / "Drink All Day" 21.02.75
DH-10003 Splinter "China Light" / "Haven't Got Time" 07.03.75
AMS 5503 Splinter "Which Way Will I Get Home" / "Green Line Bus" 07.11.75
AMS 5505 DH-10005 Stairsteps "From Us to You" / "Time" 30.01.76 03.12.75
AMS 5504 DH-10004 Attitudes "Ain't Love Enough" / "The Whole World's Gone Crazy" 13.02.76 09.12.75
DH-10007 Splinter "Which Way Will I Get Home" / "What Is It (If You Never Ever Tried It Yourself)" 09.02.76
DH-10006 Jiva "Something's Goin' on Inside LA" / "Take My Love" 11.02.76
AMS 5506 Splinter "Half Way There" / "What Is It (If You Never Ever Tried It Yourself)" 21.05.76
AMS 5507 Stairsteps "Pasado" / "Throwin' Stones Atcha"
DH-10008 Attitudes "Honey Don't Leave L.A." / "Lend a Hand" 31.05.76
DH-10009 Stairsteps "Tell Me Why" / "Salaam" 14.06.76
DH-10010 Splinter "After Five Years" / "Half Way There" 16.07.76
AMS 5508 DH-10011 Attitudes "Sweet Summer Music" / "If We Want To" 20.08.76 23.07.76
K 16856 DRC 8294 George Harrison "This Song" / "Learning How to Love You" 19.11.76 03.11.76
DRC 8313 George Harrison "Crackerbox Palace" / "Learning How to Love You" 24.01.77
K 16896 George Harrison "True Love" / "Pure Smokey" 11.02.77
K 16967 George Harrison "It's What You Value" / "Woman Don't You Cry for Me" 31.05.77
DRC 8404 Attitudes "Sweet Summer Music" / "Being Here with You" 13.06.77
K 17009 DRC 8439 Splinter "Round and Round" / "Being Here with You" 06.09.77
DRC 8474 Keni Burke "Shuffle" / "From Me to You" 11.10.77
DRC 8522 Keni Burke "Day" / "Keep On Singing" .01.78
K 17116 Splinter "New York City (Who Am I)" / "Baby Love" .02.78
DRC 8523 Splinter "Motions of Love" / "I Need Your Love" .02.78
DRC 8763 George Harrison "Blow Away" / "Soft-Hearted Hana" 04.02.79
K 17327 George Harrison "Blow Away" / "Soft Touch" 14.02.79
K 17284 George Harrison "Love Comes to Everyone" / "Soft-Hearted Hana" 20.04.79
DRC 8763 George Harrison "Love Comes to Everyone" / "Soft Touch" 11.05.79
K 17423[1] George Harrison "Faster" / "Your Love Is Forever" 30.07.79
K 17807 DRC49725 George Harrison "All Those Years Ago" / "Writing's on the Wall" 11.05.81 06.05.81
K 17837 DRC49785 George Harrison "Teardrops" / "Save the World" 31.07.81 15.07.81
929864-7 7-29864 George Harrison "Wake Up My Love" / "Greece" 08.11.82 27.10.82
7-29744 George Harrison "I Really Love You" / "Circles" 07.02.83
W8178 7-28178 George Harrison "Got My Mind Set on You" / "Lay His Head" 12.10.87 03.10.87
W8131 7-28131 George Harrison "When We Was Fab" / "Zig Zag" 25.01.88 30.01.88
W7913 7-27913 George Harrison "This Is Love" / "Breath Away from Heaven" 13.06.88 12.05.88
W2696 George Harrison "Cheer Down" / "Poor Little Girl" 27.11.89
R 6601[2] 7243 5 52117 7 4 George Harrison "Any Road" / "Marwa Blues" 12.05.03
Catalogue Number Artist Title Release Date
United Kingdom
United States
United Kingdom
United States
AMLH 22001 SP-22001 Splinter The Place I Love 20.09.74 25.09.74
AMLH 22002 SP-22002 Ravi Shankar Shankar Family & Friends 07.10.74
AMLH 22003 SP-22003 Jiva Jiva 31.10.75 06.10.75
AMLH 22006 SP-22006 Splinter Harder to Live 24.10.75
AMLH 22005 SP-22005 Henry McCullough Mind Your Own Business! 20.10.75
AMLH 22004 SP-22004 Stairsteps 2nd Resurrection 19.03.76 06.02.76
AMLH 22007 SP-22007 Ravi Shankar Ravi Shankar's Music Festival from India
AMLH 22008 SP-22008 Attitudes Attitudes
K 56319 DH 3005 George Harrison Thirty Three & 1/3 19.11.76 24.11.76
K 56385 DH 3021 Attitudes Good News 03.06.77 05.05.77
K 563xx DH 3022 Keni Burke Keni Burke 16.08.77
K 56403 DH 3073 Splinter Two Man Band 07.10.77 03.10.77
K 56562 DHK 3255 George Harrison George Harrison 16.02.79 14.02.79
K 56870 DHK 3492 George Harrison Somewhere in England 05.06.81 01.06.81
923 734-1 1-23734 George Harrison Gone Troppo 08.11.82 27.10.82
WX 123 1-25643 George Harrison Cloud Nine 02.11.87
WX 312 1-25726 George Harrison Best of Dark Horse 1976–1989 23.10.89 17.10.89
7243 5 41969 1 x[2] George Harrison Brainwashed 18.11.02
GHBOX 1/7243 5 94232 0 3[2] CDP 7243 5 97051 0 1 George Harrison The Dark Horse Years 1976–1992[3] 23.02.04
R2-525469 Ravi Shankar and George Harrison Collaborations[4] 19.10.10

1 Also released as a picture disc, catalog number K 17423P
2 Released by Dark Horse/Parlophone.
3 Box set of Harrison's remastered Dark Horse years albums: Thirty Three & 1/3 (1977) to Cloud Nine (1987).
4 Box set consisting of Shankar's two Harrison-produced albums on Dark Horse – Ravi Shankar's Music Festival from India and Shankar Family & Friends – together with Chants of India (1997) and a DVD containing film of a 1974 Musical Festival from India performance at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Claire Shaffer, "Joe Strummer's Solo Compilation 'Assembly' Is Out Now", rollingstone.com, 26 March 2021 (retrieved 21 April 2021).
  2. ^ Ray Coleman, "Dark Horse", Melody Maker, 6 September 1975, p. 28.
  3. ^ Hunt, p. 101.
  4. ^ Spizer, pp. 338, 340–41.
  5. ^ Lavezzoli, pp. 186–89.
  6. ^ Spizer, pp. 341–42.
  7. ^ Lavezzoli, p. 195.
  8. ^ Leng, pp. 138, 141–42.
  9. ^ a b c Madinger & Easter, p. 442.
  10. ^ Woffinden, p. 85.
  11. ^ Doggett, p. 240.
  12. ^ a b Clayson, p. 345.
  13. ^ "At the Starting Gate", Contra Band Music, 21 August 2012 (retrieved 28 October 2013).
  14. ^ Madinger & Easter, p. 444.
  15. ^ The Editors of Rolling Stone, p. 224.
  16. ^ Badman, p. 125.
  17. ^ Rodriguez, p. 197.
  18. ^ Inglis, pp. 46–47.
  19. ^ Hunt, p. 103.
  20. ^ Badman, pp. 175–76.
  21. ^ a b "Label: Dark Horse Records - Rate Your Music". rateyourmusic. Archived from the original on 1 February 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  22. ^ a b "Dark Horse Records - CDs and Vinyl at Discogs". discogs. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  23. ^ "Dark Horse Records On A&M Records.com". onamrecords.com. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  24. ^ "George Harrison on Dark Horse Records in Belgium". belgian-beatles-society.com. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  25. ^ Olivia Harrison, "George Harrison and Ravi Shankar Box Set 'Collaborations' Is a Labor of Love for Me", Spinner, 18 October 2010 (archived version retrieved 12 August 2014).
  26. ^ "The Deals: BMG Enters Global Pact with George Harrison's Dark Horse Records, mxmtoon Signs with AWAL & More". Billboard.com. 23 January 2020. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  27. ^ Kris Needs, "On Assembly, Joe Strummer's untameable rock'n'roll spirit rears vividly back to life", Classic Rock, 31 March 2021 (retrieved 21 April 2021).


  • Keith Badman, The Beatles Diary Volume 2: After the Break-Up 1970–2001, Omnibus Press (London, 2001; ISBN 0-7119-8307-0).
  • Alan Clayson, George Harrison, Sanctuary (London, 2003; ISBN 1-86074-489-3).
  • Peter Doggett, You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup, It Books (New York, NY, 2011; ISBN 978-0-06-177418-8).
  • The Editors of Rolling Stone, Harrison, Rolling Stone Press/Simon & Schuster (New York, NY, 2002; ISBN 0-7432-3581-9).
  • Chris Hunt (ed.), NME Originals: Beatles – The Solo Years 1970–1980, IPC Ignite! (London, 2005).
  • Ian Inglis, The Words and Music of George Harrison, Praeger (Santa Barbara, CA, 2010; ISBN 978-0-313-37532-3).
  • Peter Lavezzoli, The Dawn of Indian Music in the West, Continuum (New York, NY, 2006; ISBN 0-8264-2819-3).
  • Simon Leng, While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison, Hal Leonard (Milwaukee, WI, 2006; ISBN 1-4234-0609-5).
  • Chip Madinger & Mark Easter, Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium, 44.1 Productions (Chesterfield, MO, 2000; ISBN 0-615-11724-4).
  • Robert Rodriguez, Fab Four FAQ 2.0: The Beatles' Solo Years, 1970–1980, Backbeat Books (Milwaukee, WI, 2010; ISBN 978-1-4165-9093-4).
  • Bruce Spizer, The Beatles Solo on Apple Records, 498 Productions (New Orleans, LA, 2005; ISBN 0-9662649-5-9).
  • Gary Tillery, Working Class Mystic: A Spiritual Biography of George Harrison, Quest Books (Wheaton, IL, 2011; ISBN 978-0-8356-0900-5).
  • Bob Woffinden, The Beatles Apart, Proteus (London, 1981; ISBN 0-906071-89-5).

External links[edit]