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Parlophone Records Limited (also known as Parlophone Records and Parlophone) is a German-British record label founded in Germany in 1896 by the Carl Lindström Company as Parlophon. The British branch of the label was founded on 8 August 1923 as The Parlophone Company Limited (The Parlophone Co. Ltd.), which developed a reputation in the 1920s as a jazz record label. On 5 October 1926, the Columbia Graphophone Company acquired Parlophone's business, name, logo, and release library, and merged with the Gramophone Company on 31 March 1931 to become Electric & Musical Industries Limited (EMI). George Martin joined Parlophone in 1950 as assistant label manager, taking over as manager in 1955. Martin produced and released a mix of product, including recordings by comedian Peter Sellers, pianist Mrs Mills, and teen idol Adam Faith.

In 1962, Martin signed the Beatles, at the time a struggling band from Liverpool. During the 1960s, when Cilla Black, Billy J. Kramer, the Fourmost, and the Hollies also signed, Parlophone became one of the world's most famous labels. For several years, Parlophone claimed the best-selling UK single, "She Loves You", and the best-selling UK album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, both by the Beatles. The label placed seven singles at No. 1 during 1964, when it claimed top spot on the UK Albums Chart for 40 weeks. Parlophone continued as a division of EMI until it was merged into the Gramophone Co. on 1 July 1965. On 1 July 1973, the Gramophone Co. was renamed EMI Records Limited.

On 28 September 2012, regulators approved Universal Music Group (UMG)'s planned acquisition of EMI on condition that its EMI Records group would be divested from the combined group. EMI Records Ltd. included Parlophone and other labels to be divested and were for a short time operated in a single entity known as the Parlophone Label Group (PLG), while UMG pended their sale. Warner Music Group (WMG) acquired Parlophone and PLG in 7 February 2013, making Parlophone their third flagship label alongside Warner and Atlantic. PLG was renamed Parlophone Records Limited in May 2013. Parlophone was the oldest of WMG's "flagship" record labels.


Parlophone was founded "Parlophon" by Carl Lindström Company in 1896.[1] The name Parlophon was used for gramophones before the company began making records of their own. The label's trademark is a German L that stands for Lindström. (It coincidentally resembles the British pound sign £, which itself is derived from the letter L for the Ancient Roman unit of measurement libra, which means pound in Latin.) On 8 August 1923, the British branch of "Parlophone" (with the "e" added) was established, led by A&R manager Oscar Preuss.[1] In its early years, Parlophone established itself as a leading jazz label in Britain.[2]

In 1927, the Columbia Graphophone Company acquired a controlling interest in the Carl Lindström Company, including Parlophone.[1] Parlophone became a subsidiary of Electric & Musical Industries (EMI), after Columbia Graphophone merged with the Gramophone Company in 1931.[3]

In 1950, Oscar Preuss hired producer George Martin as his assistant. When Preuss retired in 1955, Martin succeeded him as Parlophone's manager. Parlophone specialized in mainly classical music, cast recordings, and regional British music.[4] Musicians signed to the label included Humphrey Lyttelton and the Vipers Skiffle Group.[5]

One of the label's consistently successful acts was teen idol Adam Faith, who was signed to the label in 1959.[6] The label gained significant popularity in 1962 when Martin signed Liverpool band the Beatles.[3] Parlophone gained more attention after signing the Hollies, Ella Fitzgerald, and Gerry and the Pacemakers in the 1960s.[7] Martin left to form Associated Independent Recording (AIR) Studios in 1965.[8]

Parlophone became dormant in 1973 when most of the heritage labels were phased out in favor of EMI Records.[9] Parlophone was revived in 1980.[10] During the next decades the label signed Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran, Roxette, Radiohead, Supergrass, Guy Berryman, the Chemical Brothers, Blur, Coldplay, Kylie Minogue, Damon Albarn, Conor Maynard, Gabrielle Aplin, and Gorillaz.[11]

On 23 April 2008, Miles Leonard was confirmed as the label's president.[12]

On 28 September 2012, regulators approved Universal Music Group's planned acquisition of Parlophone's parent group EMI for £1.2 billion, subject to conditions imposed by the European Commission requiring that UMG sell off a number of labels, including Parlophone itself (aside from the Beatles' catalogue, which was kept by UMG and moved to Universal's newly formed Calderstone Productions), Chrysalis, Ensign, Virgin Classics, EMI Classics, and EMI's operations in Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland.[13] These labels and catalogues were operated independently from Universal as Parlophone Label Group to prepare for a transaction early in 2013. UMG received several offers for PLG, including those from Island founder Chris Blackwell, Simon Fuller, a Sony/BMG consortium, Warner Music Group, and MacAndrews & Forbes.[14][15][16]

On 7 February 2013, it was confirmed that Warner Music Group would acquire Parlophone Label Group for US$765 million. The deal was approved in May 2013 by the European Union, which saw no concerns about the deal because of WMG's smaller reach compared to the merged UMG and Sony. Warner Music closed the deal on July 1. Parlophone Label Group was the old EMI Records label that included both the Parlophone and the eponymous EMI labels. The EMI trademark was retained by Universal (as Virgin EMI Records) while the "old" EMI Records became defunct and was renamed "Parlophone Records Ltd.".

Soon after acquiring Parlophone, WMG signed an agreement with IMPALA and the Merlin Network (two groups which opposed the EMI/Universal deal) to divest $200 million worth of artists to independent labels in order to help offset the consolidation triggered by the merger.[17][18] In April 2016, the back catalogue of British rock band Radiohead, who had sued Parlophone and EMI over a dispute in music royalties, was transferred to XL Recordings.[19]

WMG treats Parlophone as its third "frontline" label group alongside Atlantic and Warner.[20] In the US, most of Parlophone's artists are now distributed under Warner Records. The only exceptions concern Dinosaur Pile-Up (distributed by Roadrunner Records); Coldplay and Tinie Tempah, both distributed under Atlantic Records, and David Guetta, distributed under Atlantic's electronic music imprint Big Beat Records.[21]

The Beatles

Parlophone released The Beatles' albums up to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Subsequent releases – The White Album, Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road and Let It Be – were issued on the Beatles' Apple record label, distributed by EMI, and bearing Parlophone catalogue numbers.

The Beatles deal is one of the cheapest made by Parlophone.[22]

Despite the separation of Parlophone from EMI as a condition of EMI's acquisition by UMG, Universal was allowed to keep the Beatles' recorded music catalogue, which was assigned to the subsidiary Calderstone Productions.[23]


Parlophone's roster includes Lily Allen, Coldplay, David Guetta, Gorillaz, Conor Maynard, Aya Nakamura, Soprano, Synapson, Two Door Cinema Club, and Paul Weller. Its contemporary HMV was more of a classical music label and ceased issuing popular music recordings in 1967; later known as EMI Classics, it was absorbed into Warner Classics in 2013; English Columbia was replaced by the EMI pop label. Parlophone also operates Regal, a contemporary revival of the historic Columbia Graphophone budget/reissue label founded in 1914. Because Parlophone Records Ltd. absorbed the catalogues of EMI Records UK, the Columbia Graphophone Company, His Master's Voice, the archives of non-U.S. former artists of Harvest, and some European divisions of EMI Music (with new reissues bearing the Parlophone label), only artists whose recordings were originally issued by Parlophone are listed here, either during its time as a subsidiary of EMI (1931–2012) or as a Warner Music sub-label (2013–present).

Artists whose recordings are controlled by Parlophone and Warner Music but were distributed by other labels:

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.

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