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.
In 1972, Polydor merged with giant Philips owned Phonogram Records to create PolyGram in the US. The Polydor label continued run as a subsidiary label under the new company. In the middle of the decade, Polydor took interest in the Sex Pistols in 1976, but lost to EMI.
Into the 1980s, Polydor continued to do respectable business, in spite of becoming increasingly overshadowed by its PolyGram sister label Mercury Records. A&R manager Frank Neilson was able to score a major top ten hit in March 1981 for the label with “Do The Hucklebuck” by Coast To Coast as well as signing Ian Dury, Billy Fury and the Comsat Angels to the company. In 1984, the company name was parodied in the “rockumentary” film This Is Spinal Tap (whose soundtrack album was distributed by Polydor), where “Polymer Records” were the band’s record company.
By the early 1990s, Polydor began to underperform, forcing PolyGram to trim most of its staff and shift it under their newly constructed PLG (PolyGram Label Group), a cost effective outfit designed to guide its lesser performing labels (like Island Records, London Records, Atlas Records, Verve Records) to continue operating without PolyGram wasting/losing more money.
In 1994, as Island Records recovered from its sales slump, PolyGram dissolved most of PLG into it. Meanwhile, Polydor Records and Atlas Records merged into one company (Polydor/Atlas) and was shifted over to operate under another PolyGram subsidiary, A&M Records. In 1995, Polydor/Atlas became simply Polydor Records again.
Over the next few years, Polydor tried to keep itself afloat with new artist signings, new releases, and reissues, but ultimately continued to become more and more dormant. In 1998, PolyGram was purchased by Seagrams and absorbed into its Universal Music Group. During the consolidation of these two music giants, Polydor’s US operations were dismantled, while its overseas branch remained intact with its records continuing to be distributed domestically through A&M and its new partner Interscope Records. However, North American re-issues of pre-1998 Polydor releases are hadled through Universal Records.
Today, in America, the Polydor Records name and logo is mostly used on reissues of older material from its 1960s and 1970s heyday. In the United Kingdom, however, Polydor continues to sign chart-topping acts and remains one of the strongest imprints in the country — with artists such as Girls Aloud, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Take That and Kaiser Chiefs. It also acts as the UK label for American-based acts like Eminem and Gwen Stefani.
The pop factor
In Spring 2006, Polydor launched Fascination Records - a music label dedicated to pop music. Both Girls Aloud and Sophie Ellis-Bextor transferred to the new label.
Edited by [deleted user] on 3 Jun 2007, 17:19
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