Pye Records

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Pye Records
Parent companyPye Ltd., then ATV, a division of Lew Grade's ACC
Founded1953; 70 years ago (1953)
Defunct1989; 34 years ago (1989)
Country of originUK

Pye Records was a British record label. Its best known artists were Lonnie Donegan (1956–1969), Petula Clark (1957–1971), the Searchers (1963–1967), the Kinks (1964–1971), Sandie Shaw (1964–1971), Status Quo (1968–1971) and Brotherhood of Man (1975–1979). The label changed its name to PRT Records (distributing as Precision Records & Tapes) in 1980, before being briefly reactivated as Pye Records 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 Leslie Clark and Alan A. Freeman to control distribution of the recordings of the former's daughter, Petula Clark. Pye merged it with Nixa Records to form Pye Nixa Records.

Pye International[edit]

In 1958, Pye International Records was established. The company licensed recordings from American and other foreign labels for the UK market, including Chess, Disques Vogue (France), A&M, Kama Sutra, Colpix, Warner Bros., Buddah, Cameo, 20th Century, Casablanca Record and Filmworks 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.[1] ATV bought the other half of the business in 1966.

Under the management of Louis Benjamin,[2] 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). A series of classical recordings was released on Golden Guinea Collector, for example a version of Handel´s "Music for the Royal Fireworks" in 1959. This featured the conductor Charles Mackerras who made other recordings on the label including a Janacek compilation.[3] It was closed in the seventies and was replaced by Marble Arch Records, selling at an even lower price.

Piccadilly and Dawn labels[edit]

Another, full-price, subsidiary, Piccadilly Records, was for new pop acts, including Joe Brown & the Bruvvers, Clinton Ford, the Rockin' Berries, Sounds Orchestral, the Sorrows, The Bystanders, Jackie Trent and, later on, the Ivy League. In 1969, Pye launched a less mainstream label for folk, jazz, blues and progressive acts, Dawn Records. The label artists included Mungo Jerry, Man, Donovan, Comus, Titus Groan and Trifle.

Quadraphonic releases[edit]

Beginning in 1971 Pye issued a series of "4D Stereo" LP recordings in the UK. These were designed for playback in 4-channel quadraphonic sound. The records were encoded in the QS Regular Matrix system which was licensed from Sansui in Japan. Pye also marketed its own line of consumer electronics used for decoding quadraphonic records. These products were not especially successful. The last LP release in this series was in 1977.

As PRT Records[edit]

When the rights to the name Pye (then owned by Philips)[4] expired in 1980, the label changed its name to PRT, which stood for Precision Records and Tapes, via a brief flirtation with Precision. 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, a 1980s disco/electro label featuring Imagination; and Splash Records, which featured Jigsaw and the Richard Hewson Orchestra/RAH Band. PRT provided manufacturing and distribution for Gary Numan's label Numa Records, founded in 1984, which went on to release two dozen singles by a variety of acts alongside its eponymous founder, including actress Caroline Munro. Postman Pat songs and music, from the television series of the same name, were recorded at PRT Studios.

PRT's parent company ACC was purchased by The Bell Group of Australia in 1982. In 1988 the Bell Group was purchased by the Bond Corporation. However, the Bond Corporation was suffering financial problems itself and proceeded to quickly sell off most of its assets. PRT's record and cassette factory was sold to another record manufacturer, Meekland. Most of the masters of PRT's catalogue (except classical music catalogue) were sold to Castle Communications, which eventually became Sanctuary Records (now a division of BMG Rights Management). Precision Records & Tapes Ltd, formerly Pye Records Ltd, was officially liquidated in December 2013.[5]

At the same time, EMI acquired masters of PRT's classical music catalogue and assigned them to EMI Classics.

Brief revival[edit]

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. To fulfil conditions imposed by the European Commission following UMG's acquisition of EMI in 2012, Universal sold Sanctuary to BMG Rights Management in 2013.[6]

Current ownership[edit]

Warner Music Group, through its Alternative Distribution Alliance division, controls the catalogue of reissues from Pye/PRT artists' releases on Sanctuary's behalf after BMG assigned ADA to distribute them in March 2017.[7][8] WMG owns Pye's American former distributors Warner Records, formerly Warner Bros. Records, and Reprise Records.

With its acquisition of EMI Classics' catalogue in 2013, WMG now owns Pye/PRT classical music catalogue and controls them via Warner Classics.

ATV Music Publishing[edit]

Pye Records was a sister company to the better known ATV Music Publishing. This company, which owned Beatles publisher Northern Songs, was bought by Michael Jackson in 1985 and later merged with Sony to form Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

International divisions[edit]

Pye in the US[edit]

Starting with the "British Invasion" of 1964, Pye placed their artists in the US mostly on labels that they distributed in the UK: 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, the Searchers to Mercury Records, Liberty Records, and finally Kapp 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.

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[edit]

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.[9]


(including the US labels that issued records by the artists during the time they were on Pye)

Other artists who recorded for 'Pye' during their careers include Jimmy Young, Dickie Valentine, Russ Conway, Emile Ford, Val Doonican, Jackie Trent, Tony Hatch and Tony Hancock.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Billboard - Google Books". 10 November 1958. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  2. ^ Albert H. Friedlander, "Obituary: Louis Benjamin", The Independent, 23 June 1994. Retrieved 3 December 2020
  3. ^ The orchestra credited for the Music for the Royal Fireworks was the Pro Arte Orchestra, but given the number of extra players used it was effectively an ad hoc ensemble on that occasion. Blyth, Alan (March 1975). "Charles Mackerras talks". The Gramophone. pp. 1, 626.
  4. ^ "Intellectual Property Office - By number results". Intellectual Property Office, Concept House, Cardiff Road, Newport, NP10 8QQ.
  5. ^ "PRECISION RECORDS AND TAPES LTD - Filing history (free information from Companies House)". Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  6. ^ Chmielewski, Dawn C. (14 February 2013). "Universal Music agrees to sell Sanctuary Records". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 15 February 2013.
  7. ^ Christman, Ed (28 April 2016). "Warner Music's Global Deal for BMG's Catalog Sets Up Showdown With RED".
  8. ^ "BMG moves distribution of 8,000 albums to Warner's ADA - Music Business Worldwide". 7 March 2017. Archived from the original on 13 March 2017.
  9. ^ [1] Archived 19 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "David Macbeth Discography - UK - 45cat". Retrieved 6 May 2021.

External links[edit]