Geffen Records

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Geffen Records was founded in 1980 by music industry businessman David Geffen who, in the early 1970s, had founded Asylum Records. Geffen stepped down from Asylum after being diagnosed with a cancerous cyst, but following confirmation that the growth was benign, he returned to work and struck a deal with Warner Bros. Records to create Geffen Records. Warner provided 100 percent of the funding for the label’s operations, while Geffen retained 50 percent of the profits, and distributed its records. (International distribution outside the US and Canada, meanwhile, moved from WEA in 1982 to CBS until 1990.)

Geffen Records’ first signee was disco superstar Donna Summer, whose gold-selling album The Wanderer became the label’s first release in 1980. The label followed it up with Double Fantasy by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It was Lennon’s first album of all-new material in several years. Two days after it entered the charts, Lennon was assassinated in New York City. Subsequently, the album went on to sell millions and gave Geffen its first number-one album and single (the rights to the album are now owned by EMI).
Geffen Records also had early success with several big 80s acts including: Quarterflash, Oxo, Asia, Wang Chung, Kylie Minogue, and a pre-Van Halen Sammy Hagar.
As the 1980s progressed, Geffen Records continued to sign a handful of established music icons, including Elton John, Cher, Don Henley, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, and Jennifer Holliday.

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