|Parent company||Warner Music Group(pending)|
Warner Music Group (later in 2013)
|Genre||Jazz, pop, rock, novelty recordings, voice recordings|
|Country of origin||Germany|
Parlophone is a record label that was founded in Germany in 1896 by the Carl Lindström Company as Parlophon. The British branch was formed in 1923 as “Parlophone Records” which developed a reputation in the 1920s as a leading jazz label. In 1926, Columbia Graphophone Company acquired the Parlophone business, label name and its titles. Columbia Graphophone later became Columbia Records, and then EMI. The Parlophone label continues to be used. On 21 September 2012, regulators officially approved Universal Music Group‘s planned acquisition of EMI, on condition that Parlophone is divested from the combined group Until the Parlophone operations are sold, the entity is called the Parlophone Label Group. However, the early Parlophone titles are now in the public domain. Warner Music Group have announced plans to acquire Parlophone for £487 million pending EU and US approval.
George Martin joined EMI in 1950 as assistant label manager, taking over as manager in 1955. Martin produced and released a mix of product including comedy recordings of The Goons, the pianist Mrs Mills, and teen idol Adam Faith. In 1962 Martin signed rising new Liverpool band The Beatles. With Cilla Black, Billy J. Kramer, The Fourmost, and contemporary Mancunian band The Hollies also signed to the label, Parlophone in the 1960s became one of the world’s most famous and prestigious record labels.
For a long time Parlophone claimed the best selling UK single “She Loves You“, and the best selling UK album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The label also achieved placement of seven singles at #1 during 1964, when it also claimed top spot in the album charts for 40 of the 52 weeks during that year.
Founded in Germany in 1896 by the Carl Lindström Company, the brand name Parlophon was initially used for gramophones before the company began making records. The ₤ trademark is a German L, for Lindström (coincidentally it resembles the British pound sign, £, which itself is derived from the letter L for Libra, meaning pound in Latin). During the First World War, the Transoceanic Trading Company was set up in the Netherlands to look after its overseas assets. On August 8, 1923, the British branch of “Parlophone” (with the “e” added) was established, led by A&R manager Oscar Preuss. Parlophone established a master leasing arrangement with co-owned United States based Okeh Records, making Parlophone a leading jazz label in the UK.
In 1927 the Columbia Graphophone Company acquired a controlling interest in the Carl Lindström Company and thereby in Parlophone. In 1931 Columbia merged with theGramophone Company to form Electric & Musical Industries Ltd (EMI). Under EMI the Parlophone company initially maintained its status as a jazz label. In about 1929 or 1930, the “Rhythm Style Series” started: jazz records culled from the Okeh label. Besides the Okeh recordings, Parlophone also issued recordings from US Columbia, Brunswick as well as a few sessions produced at US Decca. As time went on the label also released speciality recordings of spoken-word and comedy recordings, such as the comedy recordings ofThe Goons and Flanders and Swann.
In 1950, Preuss hired 24-year-old George Martin as his assistant. When Preuss retired in 1955 Martin succeeded him as label manager.
Leading Parlophone artists in the 1950s included Germany’s Obernkirchen Children’s Choir and Scottish musician Jimmy Shand. At the dawn of the rock era, Parlophone artists such as Humphrey Lyttelton, the Vipers Skiffle Group, the pianist Mrs Mills, Jim Dale, Keith Kelly, Peter Sellers, Bernard Cribbins, the Temperance Seven, Laurie London andShane Fenton would sporadically reach the British Top 20 chart. Their only consistently successful act until the “Beat Boom” was that of teen idol Adam Faith: Faith was assigned to the label in 1959 by Norman Newell, an EMI A&R man “without portfolio”. Treading a path similar to other British labels of the era, Parlophone released all manner of domestic and foreign licensed product, including James Brown, but had little success in comparison to EMI siblings HMV and Columbia.
The label’s fortunes began to rise in 1962, when Martin signed rising new Liverpool band The Beatles. Along with fellow NEMS stablemates Cilla Black, Billy J. Kramer and theFourmost, and contemporary Mancunian band The Hollies, The Beatles turned Parlophone into one of the world’s most famous and prestigious record labels.
After Martin left to form the Associated Independent Recording (AIR) Studios in 1965, the Parlophone Company was absorbed into EMI’s Gramophone Company unit (renamed EMI Records in 1973) with the Parlophone label maintaining its identity. For a long time Parlophone claimed the best selling UK single “She Loves You“, and the best selling UK albumSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The label also achieved placement of seven singles at #1 during 1964, when it also claimed top spot in the album charts for 40 of the 52 weeks during that year.
The label was rendered dormant in 1973 when most of EMI’s heritage labels were phased out in favour of the new EMI Records label. The Parlophone label was revived in 1980.
On April 23, 2008 Miles Leonard was confirmed as label president.
On 21 September 2012, regulators officially approved Universal Music Group‘s planned acquisition of Parlophone’s parent company EMI for £1.2 billion. However, due to conditions placed upon the sale by the European Commission, Parlophone (along with the other stand-alone labels) will be divested by the combined company (but UMG will still be able to maintain ownership of The Beatles’ library). Until a buyer is found, Parlophone will be operated independently from the rest of UMG in preparation for a transaction. The spun off operations were named Parlophone Label Group and is expected to be sold early in 2013. UMG has received several offers for Parlophone. Warner Music Group will be purchasing PLG and is awaiting clearance from the European Commission in the EU and Federal Trade Commission in the States.
Parlophone had issued American OKeh sides from their beginning in the UK, but in about 1929 or 1930, Parlophone started a series of American jazz records on their “Rhythm Style Series”. Edgar Jackson was the director of this series, which was issued within the existing R- series (the first issue was R-448). Culled from the American OKeh label, artists like Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Frank Trumbauer, Joe Venuti, Duke Ellington, Miff Mole, and other major artists who recorded for OKeh. These records were usually “split-coupled” (the top and bottom side of each record was usually by different artists and did not correspond with the original American coupling). The “Second New Rhythm-Style” series replaced the first series in about 1931, and there was a separate series for each year from 1934 through 1941, as well as some miscellany series. These 78’s were popular and remained in print for years.
Even though these records were never licensed for sale in the U.S., they were heavily imported through jazz shops like Commodore and Liberty in the late 1930s and were sold through the 1940s and into the early 1950s. They are treasured by collectors because they are pressed from the original stampers and usually sound much better than the worn and usually rare U.S. OKeh original records.
The Parlophone PNY series
In the U.S. in 1929 there was a short-lived Parlophone label made and distributed by OKeh. Initially, certain OKeh records were issued using the Parlophone label and using the OKeh catalog number. OKeh then started the PNY-34000 series (along with the Odeon ONY-36000 series) lasting until late 1930 or early 1931. No one has been able to determine for whom these two labels were intended, since many surviving copies are in new condition. A number of noted record collectors and researchers (George Blacker, Carl Kenziora, Len Kunstadt, among other members of the New York Record Research Associates) had long speculated that since these records were found in a west coast warehouse uncirculated, they were possibly intended for offshore sales in U.S. possessions (Guam, Marianas, etc.) or possibly at military offshore bases, but this has never been proven. One of the reasons for this speculation is because OKeh recorded quite a number of sides without vocals and issued them on Parlophone and Odeon alongside the vocal versions. Regardless, this series (along with OKeh’s Odeon ONY- series) appears to not have been available for sale in the