- Virgin Records
infobox record label
Capitol Music Group(in the U.S.) EMI Music Distribution
genre = Various
country = UK
url = [http://www.virginrecords.com/ Official Web Site of Virgin Records]
Virgin Records is a British
record labelfounded by English entrepreneur Richard Branson, Simon Draper, and Nik Powellin 1972. It was later sold to Thorn EMI, and then, in the US, merged with Capitol Recordsin 2007 to create the Capitol Music Group.
Kraut- and Prog-rock origins
date = March 26, 2004 | url = http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/generalfiction/story/0,6000,1177956,00.html | accessdate = 2007-09-17 ] After making the shop into a success, they turned their business into a fully-fledged record label. The name Virgin, according to Branson (in his autobiography), arose from a colleague of his when they were brainstorming business ideas. She suggested Virgin - as they were all new to business - like "virgins". The original Virgin logo (known to fans as the "Gemini" or "Twins" logo) was designed by English artist and illustrator Roger Dean : a young naked woman in mirror image with a large long-tailed serpent and the word "Virgin" in Dean's familiar script. A variation on the logo was used for the spin-off
The first release on the label was the
progressive rockalbum " Tubular Bells" by multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfieldin 1973. This was soon followed by some notable krautrock releases, including electronic breakthrough album "Phaedra" by Tangerine Dream(which went Top 10), and " The Faust Tapes" and " Faust IV" by Faust. "The Faust Tapes" album retailed for 49p (the price of a 7" single) and as a result allowed this relatively unknown band to reach number 12 in the album charts. Other early albums include Gong's The Flying Teapot (Radio Gnome Invisible, Pt. 1) (V2002), which Daevid Allen has been quoted as having never been paid for.
Although Virgin was initially one of the key labels of English progressive rock, the 1977 signing of the
Sex Pistols, who had already been asked to leave both EMI and A&M, reinvented the label as a new wave outpost. Shortly afterwards, the Notting Hill record shop (above which the label's office was located) was raided by police for having a window display of the Sex Pistols' album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistolsin the window. Afterwards they signed groups like XTC, Human League, Culture Club, Gillan, Simple Minds, and less successful bands like Shooting Star, the Motors, Holly and the Italiansand Fingerprintz. A short-lived subsidiary label, DinDisc, had Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Darkand The Monochrome Setduring its brief 1980-81 existence. Similarly, Virgin Front Line became one of the UK's most successful reggae labels in the late '70s and early '80s.
The current Virgin logo (known informally as "The Scrawl") was created in 1982 as a hasty doodle on a cocktail napkin; rather than hiring the graphic designer, Branson simply paid him for the napkin.
The group Genesis recorded various albums for this record company beginning with 1983's self-titled effort (Virgin reissued the group's prior albums, which had originally been released on the Charisma label in the UK).
The first Virgin label in the US was distributed by Atlantic (
Robert Wyatt, Mike Oldfield, Gong, Hatfield and the North, Kevin Coyneand Henry Cow). After several false starts licensing its bands to American labels like Epic (Culture Club, Holly and the Italians & Shooting Star), Atlantic (Genesis, Julian Lennon) and A&M (UB40, Human League, Simple Minds, Breathe), Virgin Records opened up its American division, Virgin Records America, in 1987releasing the debut album by Cutting Crewand the hit single " I Just Died In Your Arms"; other Virgin America signings included Camper Van Beethoven, Bob Mould, Warren Zevon, Paula Abduland Steve Winwood. Virgin Records America's releases were distributed by WEA until 1992. Prior to the formation of Virgin Records America, its artists were licensed in the United States to labels such as CBS, A&M, Warner Bros. Records, and others.
Purchase by Thorn EMI
Virgin Records was sold by Branson to
Thorn EMIin June 1992 for a reported US$1 billion (around £560 million) [http://www.virgin.com/aboutvirgin/allaboutvirgin/thewholestory/default.asp?era=199] [http://ec.europa.eu/comm/competition/mergers/cases/index/m4.html#m_202] , with a special non-competition clause that would prevent Branson from founding another recording company during the five years following the agreement (see the final paragraph in [http://europe.eu.int/comm/competition/mergers/cases/decisions/m202_en.pdf E.U. Merger Decission IV/M202 of 27.04.1992] ). It now faces competition from Branson's new label: V2 Records. Branson sold Virgin Records to fund Virgin Atlantic Airwayswhich at that time was coming under intense anti-competitive pressure from British Airways. (In 1993 BA settled a libel action brought by Branson, giving him £500,000 and a further £110,000 to his airline).
After being acquired by
Thorn EMI, Virgin launched several subsidiaries like Realworld Records, Innocent Records, blues specialty label Point Blank Records, and Hut Records, and continued signing new and established artists like 30 Seconds to Mars, Tina Turner, Beenie Man, Korn, The Rolling Stones, Spice Girls, The Smashing Pumpkins, We Are Scientists, Darren Hayes, The Kooks, Lenny Kravitz, Meat Loaf, Placebo, Janet Jackson(contract ended in 2006), Daft Punk, Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Massive Attack, The Future Sound of London, Blur (US), The Chemical Brothers, Gorillaz, Paula Abdul(contract ended in 1999), Brooke Allison, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, The Almost, Mariah Carey(contract ended in 2002), N.E.R.D.and recently Laura Marling, RBD, Bizzy Bone, and Swami.
In August of 2008, Virgin Records filed a $30 million lawsuit against
30 Seconds To Mars, claiming the band refused to deliver three albums as required by its contract. According to the lawsuit, the band "repudiated" a 1999 contract in July.
Capitol Records and Virgin Records were merged in 2007 to create
Capitol Music Groupafter a massive restructuring of EMI Group Ltd. [http://www.rapbasement.com/content/view/2380/35/] Stepping down as chief executive of Capitol Records was Andy Slater, with Jason Flom, former executive of Virgin, taking the reins as Chairman and CEO of the newly created company.
List of record labels
Virgin Schallplatten GmbH
Virgin Records artists
* [http://www.virginrecords.com Official Web Site]
* [http://www.virginbrand.com virginbrand.com] Unofficial blog of the Virgin Group
* [http://www.collectable-records.ru/groups/collect_labels/virgin/index.htm Virgin Records—art label design & artists at www.collectable-records.ru]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.