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Polydor was originally an independent branch of the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. Its name was first used, as an export label, in 1924, the British and German branches of the Gramophone Company having severed their ties during World War I. Deutsche Grammophon claimed the rights to the His Master’s Voice trademark for Germany, where HMV recordings were released under the Electrola trademark. In turn, DGG records exported out of Germany were released on the Polydor label. Deutsche Grammophon lost its rights to the His Master’s Voice trademark to EMI as part of Germany’s surrender terms at the end of World War II.

Polydor became a popular music label in 1946 while the famously yellow Deutsche Grammophon seal became a classical music label. No Frenchman, though, could be expected to buy (or pronounce!) a product labelled Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft, so Polydor remained Deutsche Grammophon’s export label, including Classical music, in France and the Spanish-speaking world for the remainder of the long-playing era.
In the early 1960s orchestra leader Bert Kaempfert signed unknowns Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers to Polydor. The Beat Brothers, of course, were actually The Beatles, and less than two years later, with a new drummer and new haircuts and now signed to Parlophone, became one of the biggest and most influential groups the world has ever seen.
Popular German entertainers such as James Last, Bert Kaempfert, Kurt Edelhagen, Caterina Valente and the Kessell Sisters appeared on the Polydor label, as well as many French, Spanish and Latin-American figures.

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