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Warner Bros. Records opened for business on March 19, 1958, above the film studio’s machine shop at 3701 Warner Blvd. in Burbank. Prompting the labels creation was when Warner Bros. Pictures contract actor Tab Hunter scored a #1 hit in 1957 with “Young Love” for Dot Records. To Warners’ chagrin, reporters were primarily asking about the hit record, instead of Hunter’s latest Warner movie. The company quickly signed Hunter to the newly formed record division, and while his subsequent recordings for the label failed to duplicate the success he had had with Dot, the fledgling Warner Bros. Records thrived.

In 1960, the company signed the Everly Brothers (who were previously on Cadence Records) with the first ever million dollar contract in history. The same year they also released two albums by Bob Newhart, which both won Grammy Awards, including the Album of the Year. In 1963, Warner Bros. Records purchased Frank Sinatra’s label, Reprise Records—the acquisition proved very lucrative, as Reprise remains in the WBR fold to this day, and has become its strongest imprint.

In 1964, the label negotiated with Vogue Records for the right to distribute Petula Clark’s recordings in the US, beginning with “Downtown.” Eight years later, in 1972, Dionne Warwick was brought to the label after leaving Scepter Records in a deal that was the biggest contract at the time for a female artist. Warwick’s five years at Warners would greatly pale in comparison to her tenure at Scepter, both personally and professionally.

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