Asylum Records

Asylum Records is an American record label, owned by Warner Music Group, founded by agent-managers David Geffen and Elliot Roberts in 1971. After various incarnations, today it is geared primarily towards hip-hop music.

Company history


Asylum was founded in 1971 by David Geffen, and partner Elliot Roberts, who had previously worked as agents at the William Morris Agency, and operated a folk/rock label. They founded their own management company, and when Geffen was unable to get a recording contract for Jackson Browne, one of his clients at the time, Geffen and Roberts founded Asylum specifically to sign Browne. Asylum's early releases were distributed by Atlantic Records. The same year, Asylum signed John David Souther, Judee Sill, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell and Glenn Frey (who Geffen encouraged to form The Eagles, with Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner.) The biggest coup for Asylum was signing Bob Dylan, who had been with Columbia Records since the early 1960s but who, after a falling-out with the company, was shopping around for a new label. Dylan recorded two albums, Planet Waves and the live Before the Flood for Asylum before returning to Columbia. Columbia reissued Dylan's two Asylum albums in 1981.

Warner takeover and Elektra merger

In 1972 Asylum was taken over by the then Warner Communications (now the Warner Music Group) and Asylum was merged with Elektra Records to become Elektra/Asylum Records. David Geffen received $2 million in cash and $5 million in Warner Communications stock, thereby becoming one of the company's largest shareholders. In 1973 Geffen opened the now-famous Roxy nightclub on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, which became a showcase for many emerging artists. Geffen served as president and chairman of Elektra/Asylum Records until 1975, when he crossed over to film and was named vice-chairman of Warner Brothers Pictures.

One Asylum's most prominent signings after Geffen's departure was Warren Zevon, who released a series of successful and critically-acclaimed LPs for the label; his self-titled 1976 label debut has been called the best California rock album of the decade.

Geffen withdrew from his business affairs for several years after a 1976 cancer scare, which subsequently proved to be a misdiagnosis.. He returned to business in 1980, founding the Geffen Records label and signing John Lennon, whose comeback album Double Fantasy was released only days before Lennon's murder in December 1980.

By the early 1980s -- though technically still billed as "Elektra/Asylum Records or Elektra/Asylum/Nonesuch Records" -- Elektra and Asylum began to split off with the former becoming more dominant and the latter acting as more of an extension. By the middle of the decade, the company was unofficially calling itself Elektra Records, and in 1989 it was renamed Elektra Entertainment. Asylum, meanwhile, broke off into a subsidiary label and subsequently became less active in its own right.

Country format

Asylum was reformatted into a country music label, still operated by Elektra, in 1992. Under the new format, Asylum scored successful recordings by such acts as Brother Phelps, Thrasher Shiver, Emmylou Harris, Kevin Sharp, Bryan White, and Lila McCann. They also produced many critically acclaimed albums by artists such as Mandy Barnett, Guy Clark, The Cox Family, Bob Woodruff, J.D. Myers and Jamie Hartford. By the end of the decade, however, mismanagement and a lack of promotion money led to the dissolution of the Asylum country label.

In 2003, Mike Curb, head of Curb Records, revived the Nashville division of Asylum, forming a new label known as Asylum-Curb. LeAnn Rimes, Clay Walker, Lee Brice, Rio Grand, Hank Williams, Jr. and Wynonna are among the artists on the Asylum-Curb division.


After being dormant for several years, Asylum Records was revived as an urban music-based label in 2004, independently managed through Warner Music Group. Some of its releases are distributed in conjunction with Warner Bros. Records and others through Atlantic Records. In 2006, WMG shifted Asylum to operate under their newly created Independent Label Group, which also comprises Cordless Recordings and East West Records.

Sevendust Signing

On December 6th, 2006, Asylum Records announced the signing of Atlanta(Georgia)-based metal band Sevendust, the first non-hip-hop artist to be signed to the newly reconfigured label. Sevendust's Asylum debut (their sixth full-length album overall), entitled Alpha was released on March 6th, 2007, selling around 42,000 albums in its first week. Although Asylum has signed them, they have not given any notice of it anywhere. Sevendust's second album Chapter VII: Hope & Sorrow on the Asylum label was released in 2008, although Asylum Records' website has still not officially mentioned that Sevendust is on their label.


See also

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