London Records

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London Records
Parent companyUniversal Music Group
Founded1947 (1947)
FounderEdward Lewis
Distributor(s)Universal (pre-PolyGram and current artists)
Warner Music Group and Because Music (PolyGram catalogue)

London Records is a record label in the U.K. that marketed records in the U.S, Canada, and Latin America from 1947 to 1979 before becoming semi-independent.


Gramophone era logo

London arose from the split in ownership between the British and American branches of Decca Records. The American branch of London Records released British Decca records in the U.S. since British Decca could not use the "Decca" name there. The label was noted for classical albums made in then state-of-the-art stereophonic sound, and such artists as Georg Solti, Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti.

The London name was also used by British Decca in the UK market for releases taken from American labels which British Decca licensed, such as Imperial, Chess, Dot, Atlantic, Specialty and Sun, and the first two UK releases from Motown. By the 1960s more licensing deals had been made with Big Top, Monument, Parrot, Philles, and Hi, and subsidiary labels were London Atlantic, London Dot and London Monument (the last featuring Roy Orbison, who remained with London in the UK even after he signed for MGM Records in the U.S.).

An unusual feature was the letter code in the numbering system. From the late 1950s until 1973, the label bore the logo "London American Recordings", and on Radio Luxembourg it was known as "London American".

1965 London Records trade ad for the Rolling Stones

In America, the label was best known as the American imprint of the pre–1971 recordings of the Rolling Stones (currently owned by ABKCO). The label also originally issued some early LPs and singles by Texas-based band ZZ Top (whose catalog went to Warner Brothers when the band moved there).

In the late 1970s, London signed deals with Bomp! Records and with Big Sound in Connecticut, U.S. This changed the label in the eyes of many from a backwater into something a little more "edgy" compared to the pedestrian contemporary releases from parent company Decca.

The president of London Records in the 1970s was D. H. Tollerbond.[1]

After British Decca was acquired by PolyGram in 1979, London followed a more independent course with subsidiary labels such as Slash, Pete Tong's Essential Records and FFRR.

Universal Music Group (the owner of American Decca) acquired PolyGram in 1998;[1] however, by this time, London Records had become a semi-independent label within the PolyGram group operated by Roger Ames. In the 90's Tracy Bennet became President and Colin Bell, Managing Director. When Ames moved to the Warner Music Group, he took the label with him, and so almost all of London's recent back catalogue was acquired by Warner, which also acquired the London name and trademark from Decca [2] (which still owns pre-PolyGram back catalogue). The name is still used, mainly for UK-based artists, and for ex-Factory Records artists. Notable artists released by that incarnation of London, called London Records 90, include New Order, Happy Mondays, A, and Shakespears Sister.

After PolyGram took over British Decca, classical-music albums recorded by British Decca continued to be released on the London label in the U.S., with a logo similar to the Decca classical label logo, until American Decca owner Universal bought British Decca owner PolyGram in 1998, after which they were all reissued on the original British Decca label in the U.S.

The London pop music catalogue owned by Universal Music is now managed by Polydor Records, with US distribution handled by Mercury Records. Decca Records had a recording studio in Blomfield Road, West London; there may have been another in London's West End. In 2010, Universal Music reclaimed ownership of the London Records trademark. On 1 July 2011 Universal Music reclaimed the London Records name and relaunched it under the executive team of Nick Raphael (president) and later Jo Charrington (senior vice president of A&R) who together previously ran Epic Records for Sony Music Entertainment since 2001. Both had started their careers at London Records in the Ames era in the 1990s.[2]

When Nick Raphael became president of Capitol Records's UK division in 2013, London Records moved there,[3] where it currently operates as a subsidiary.

In July 2017, Because Music announced that it would acquire Warner Music 90, the division of WMG that reissued most London Records artists from the PolyGram era. [4] Because completed the deal in August 2017, which includes the rights to over fifty London artists (including Bananarama and Happy Mondays). Warner Music 90 will be rebranded as London Music Stream.[5] Because would also acquire ten French performers including J.J. Cale's post-Mercury/Shelter catalog with the exception of The Road to Escondido, Mano Negra and The Beta Band from Warners in separate deals.

Subsidiary or associated labels[edit]

London Records had dozens of subsidiary and distributed labels throughout its existence. Among the more familiar labels are:

Other subsidiaries (in which many released no more than 1 to 10 singles) include: Astra, All Boy, Antler, Ashley, Auburn, Boot, Beacon, Best, Brite Leaf, Buckley, Cannon, Cedwicke, CGD, Chairman, Chicory, Cinderella, Circle, Coliseum, Collier, Counsel, Country Capers, Damark, Deaux, Detroit, Domain, Dover, Edit, Eric (not to be confused with the reissue label of the same name), Folk Sing, G.S.P., George, Goldwax, Great, Gulf, Hi Country, Image, Imco, Jay Boy, Johen, K&G, KAB, Keith, Kingfish, LeJoint, London International, Louis, M.O.C., Mach, Magna Glide, Marlin, Medway, Nefi, PAC, Palomar, Pawn, Pen, P-K-M, President, Renegade, Richmond, Ritz, Running Bear, Sahara, SCA, Scarlet, Shar-Dee, Shell, Siana, Spark, Splash, Stage, Sultan, Tahoe, Tarheel, Telefunken, Terrace, Tibor, Tilt, Topix, Unison, Valerie, Watch and XYZ




See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cat People, Bill Hayward, introduction by Rogers E. M. Whitaker. New York: Dolphin/Doubleday, 1978 (p. 132)
  2. ^ "Raphael to relaunch London Records for Universal | UNLIMITED | CMU". 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  3. ^ "Universal Music Group". Retrieved 2015-11-01.
  4. ^ "Because confirms acquisition of London Records catalogue - Music Business Worldwide". 6 July 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  5. ^ "Because Group acquires catalogue of iconic London Records". Retrieved 12 September 2018.

External links[edit]