Electric & Musical Industries, Ltd


Parlophone is a record label, founded in Germany in 1896 by the Carl Lindström Company. The trademark is a German L, for Lindström. It also resembles the British pound sign (£), which itself is derived from the letter L for Libra, meaning pound in Latin.

Early history

Lindstrom initially used the "Parlophon" brand on gramophones before it started making records. 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 Oscar Preuss as its A&R manager. 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, Columbia Graphophone Company of the United Kingdom acquired a controlling interest in the Carl Lindström Company and thereby in Parlophone. In 1931, Columbia merged with the Gramophone Company to form Electric & Musical Industries Ltd (EMI).

As an EMI label

Under EMI, Parlophone initially maintained its status as a jazz label. As time went on, the label also released speciality music, spoken-word and novelty/comedy material, such as the comedy recordings of The Goons. In 1950, Preuss hired 24-year-old George Martin as his assistant. In 1955, Preuss retired and Martin succeeded him. Leading Parlophone artistes at the time included Germany's Obernkirchen Children's Choir, Scottish musician Jimmy Shand and the pianist Mrs Mills.

At the dawn of the rock era, Parlophone artists such as Humphrey Lyttelton, the Vipers Skiffle Group, Jim Dale, Keith Kelly, the Temperance Seven, Laurie London and Shane Fenton would sporadically reach the British Top 20 chart. However, their only consistent chart action until the "Beat Boom" would be that of teen idol Adam Faith, who was not a Martin discovery: Faith was assigned to the label via EMI's A&R man-without-portfolio, Norman Newell. 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 Beatles and the Beat Boom

The label's fortunes began to rise in 1962, when Martin signed a rising new Liverpool pop band, The Beatles. Along with Brian Epstein-managed stablemates Cilla Black, Billy J. Kramer and the Fourmost, they soon turned Parlophone into one of the world's most famous and prestigious record labels.

After Martin decided to become an independent producer in 1965, the Parlophone Company was absorbed into EMI's Gramophone Company unit with the label intact.

Thanks to the Beatles' recordings, Parlophone claimed the best selling UK single "She Loves You" (until 1977), and the best selling UK album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".

The label also placed a tally of seven singles at number 1 during 1964, when it also claimed top spot in the album charts for 40 of the 52 weeks.

Parlophone today

Parlophone is still a leading EMI label, while of its contemporary labels HMV became solely a classical music label and Columbia was replaced by the EMI label.

As a short lived U.S. label under Okeh Records

In the U.S., there was a short-lived Parlophone label (prefix PNY-), which in 1929 issued exact couplings from OKeh, using the OKeh catalog number. Then OKeh started a separate series for Parlophone (34000 series). This series (along with the Odeon ONY-36000 series) were both discontinued in 1930. No one has been able to determine where these two labels were intended to be sold, although since many surviving copies are in new condition, speculation among collectors have been that these records were found unused in a warehouse.)

Notable acts

Since The Beatles, many other pop/rock artists have signed to the label, including:

Recently the label's line-up has included acts such as:

Parlophone record labels

The labels shown here include those used for 78s and LPs. The label design for 7" singles had the same standard template as several other EMI labels, with the large "45" insignia to the right. In recent years, design uniformity has relaxed from release to release.

See also

External links

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