Capitol Records is a major United States-based record label owned by EMI and located in Hollywood, California and New York City as part of Capitol Music Group. Capitol's parent, EMI, is one of the "big four" music companies, the others being Universal Music, Sony BMG and Warner Music. Its former headquarters building, the Capitol Tower, is a major landmark near the corner of Hollywood and Vine. Among the more famous artists who have recorded for or been marketed by Capitol Records are the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole,Selena, The Beach Boys, Tina Turner, Richard Marx, Keith Urban, Poison, Kenny Rogers, Megadeth,Foo Fighters, Peggy Lee, Dean Martin, Judy Garland, The Band, Pink Floyd, Duran Duran, Relient K, Kylie Minogue, the Beastie Boys, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Gorillaz, Radiohead,Yellowcard, and Liz Phair.
The Capitol Records Company was founded by songwriter Johnny Mercer in 1942, with the financial help of movie producer Buddy DeSylva and the business acumen of Glenn Wallichs (1910-1971), owner of Music City, at the time the biggest record store in Los Angeles, California. Wallichs Music City record store opened in 1940 and was located in Hollywood on the corner of Sunset and Vine. It was the premier music store in Southern California for decades but closed in 1978.
Johnny Mercer first suggested the idea of starting a record company while he was golfing with Harold Arlen and Bobby Sherwood. He told them, "I’ve got this idea of starting a record company. I get so tired of listening to the way everyone treats music. I keep feeling they’re selling out. And I don’t like the way artists are treated either. Bing Crosby isn’t the only one who can make records. I don’t know, I think it would be fun." By 1941, Mercer was not only an experienced songwriter, but a singer with a number of records to his name. Mercer next suggested starting a record company to his friend Glenn Wallichs while Mercer was visiting Wallichs' record store. Wallichs responded, "Fine, you run the record company and find the artists,' and Mercer added, "and you run the business."
On February 2, 1942, they met with Buddy DeSylva at a Hollywood restaurant to ask if Paramount Pictures would invest in the new record company. DeSylva said no, but that he would, and he gave them a check for $15,000. On March 27 the three men got a statement notarized that they have applied to incorporate Liberty Records. In May they amend the application to change the name to Capitol Records. (citations for Feb. 2 to July 25, 1942, see individual day dates at #http://www.popculturefanboy.blogspot.com/
On April 6, 1942, Johnny Mercer supervised Capitol's first recording session, recording Martha Tilton singing 'Moon Dreams". On May 5, Bobby Sherwood and his orchestra recorded two tracks. On May 21, Freddie Slack and his orchestra recorded three tracks, one with just the orchestra, one with Ella Mae Morse—"Cow Cow Boogie', and one with Mercer—"Air–Minded Executive".
On June 4, Capitol Records opened its first office in a second-floor room south of Sunset Boulevard. On the same day, Wallichs presented the first free record to a Los Angeles disc jockey named Peter Potter. Potter was so pleased Wallichs decided to give free records to other DJs, becoming the first in the business to do so.
On June 5, Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra recorded four sides for Capitol. On June 12, the orchestra recorded five more songs, including one side with Billie Holiday. On June 11, Tex Ritter recorded “(I Got Spurs That) Jingle Jangle Jingle” and “Goodbye My Little Cherokee” at his first Capitol recording session. They would become record #110.
On July 1, Capitol Records released its first nine records:
By July 25, "Cow Cow Boogie" had gone to #1 on the hit parade. (see dates at #http://www.popculturefanboy.blogspot.com/
The earliest recording artists included co–owner Johnny Mercer, Margaret Whiting, Jo Stafford, Paul Whiteman, Martha Tilton, Ella Mae Morse, the Pied Pipers, and Paul Weston and His Orchestra. Capitol's first gold single was Morse's "Cow Cow Boogie" in 1942. Capitol's first record album was Capitol Presents Songs By Johnny Mercer, a three 78-rpm record set with recordings by Mercer, Stafford, and the Pied Pipers, all with Paul Weston's Orchestra.
Capitol was the first West Coast label, competing with RCA-Victor, Columbia and Decca, all based in New York. In addition to its Los Angeles recording studio Capitol had a second studio in New York City, and on occasion sent mobile recording equipment to New Orleans, Louisiana and other cities.
By 1946, Capitol had sold 42 million records and was established as one of the Big Six record labels. It was also that year that writer–producer Alan W. Livingston created Bozo the Clown for their new children's record library. Some notable music appreciation albums for children by Capitol during that era included Sparky's Magic Piano and Rusty in Orchestraville.
Capitol released a few classical albums in the 1940s, some featuring a heavily embossed, leather-like cover. These appeared initially in the 78-rpm format, then on some of Capitol's early LPs (33-1/3 rpm) which first appeared in 1949. Among the recordings was a unique performance of the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos' Choros No. 10 with a Los Angeles choral group and the Janssen Symphony Orchestra (1940-1952) conducted by Werner Janssen, Symphony No. 3 by Russian composer Reinhold Moritzovich Glière, and Cesar Franck's Symphony in D minor with Willem Mengelberg and the Concertgebouw Orchestra. In 1949, the Canadian branch was established and Capitol purchased the KHJ Studios on Melrose Avenue next to the Paramount Pictures lot in Hollywood. By the mid-1950s, Capitol had become a huge company, concentrating on popular music.
The 1950s roster now included Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, The Andrews Sisters, Jackie Gleason, Jane Froman, Ray Anthony, Andy Griffith, Shirley Bassey, Merle Travis, The Kingston Trio (who in 1960 would account for 20% of all record sales for Capitol), Dean Martin, The Four Freshmen, Al Martino, Dinah Shore and Nancy Wilson. There were also some notable comedy recordings, including several by Stan Freberg and the Yiddish-dialect parodies of Mickey Katz. The label also began recording rock and roll acts such as The Jodimars and Gene Vincent.
Many children became familiar with Capitol Records through the release of a number of Bozo the Clown albums, which featured 78-rpm discs and full color booklets which the children could follow as they listened to the recorded stories. Although there were a series of Bozo the Clowns on various television stations, Capitol used the voice of Pinto Colvig, who was also the voice for Walt Disney's cartoon character Goofy.
In 1955, the British record company EMI acquired 96% of Capitol Records stock for $8.5 million. Soon afterward, EMI built a new studio at Hollywood and Vine to match its state-of-the-art Abbey Road Studios in London - see the Capitol Tower below. EMI's classical Angel Records label was merged into Capitol in 1957. Some classical recordings were issued in high fidelity and even stereophonic sound on the Capitol label by William Steinberg and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski with various orchestras (including the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra), and Sir Thomas Beecham and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as light classical albums by Carmen Dragon and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and a series of albums of film music conducted by leading Hollywood composers such as Alfred Newman. Eventually, most of the classical recordings were released exclusively on the Angel and Seraphim labels in the U.S. EMI reissued many of the historic Capitol classical recordings on CD. In 1955, with the advent of stereo, Capitol records changed its LP label from a purple large Dome Logo to a smaller dome logo on a black lable with a prism surrounding the edges. Their 45 rpm records had a dome logo with a yellow and orange twined label.
During the 1950's Capitol Records also introduced its series of "Hi-Q" production music LP's and tapes. Some television and film productions that made use of this extensive library included Gumby, Davey and Goliath, The Donna Reed Show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and the earliest Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
After initial resistance to issuing records by The Beatles who were signed to sister EMI label Parlophone, Capitol exercised its option in November 1963 and helped usher in Beatlemania in 1964. (The Beatles' earliest US issues had been on the small Vee-Jay label.) Capitol's producers significantly altered the content of the Beatles albums (see "Record Altering", below.), and, believing the Beatles' recordings were sonically unsuited to the US market, added equalization to brighten the sound, and also piped the recordings through the famous Capitol echo chamber, located underneath the parking lots outside the Capitol Tower.
Capitol also signed or became American distributors of albums by Badfinger, The Band, The Beach Boys, Grand Funk Railroad, If, Sandler and Young, Steve Miller Band, People, Pink Floyd, Linda Ronstadt, The Human Beinz, Peter Tosh, and various solo albums by members of the Beatles.
In 1968, Capitol decided to modernize its logo and supplanted its capitol dome logo with a "C" logo incorporating a 45 rpm record design. That logo would be on a light-green label on albums and a red & yellow label on 45's. These labels became known as the "target" label. That lasted through 1973 when it both albums and 45's would have an orange-red label with the printed Capitol logo at the bottom. Budget albums had the same logos but with other colors. In 1978, the capitol dome design on a purple label was brought back. Budget albums had the same logo but a darker green label.
Between 1964 and 1970, Tower Records was a subsidiary label.
In the seventies, Capitol launched two alternative labels: EMI America Records and EMI Manhattan Records. New artists included Sheena Easton, April Wine, Blondie, Burning Spear, Buzzcocks, David Bowie, Kim Carnes, Rosanne Cash, Natalie Cole, Sammy Hagar, Heart, John Hiatt, The Knack, Maze, The Raspberries, Minnie Riperton, Diana Ross, Bob Seger, The Specials, Ten Wheel Drive, The Stranglers, Tavares, George Thorogood, Wings and The Persuasions. In 1977, EMI merged with THORN Electrical Industries to form Thorn EMI, and became the parent company of Capitol. In 1979, Capitol was made part of the EMI Music Worldwide division. Unless, it had rights with Viacom.
Capitol added artists in a variety of genres during the 1980s: popular music groups and singers like Richard Marx, The Motels, Tina Turner, George Clinton, Crowded House, Peter Blakeley, Duran Duran (and spinoffs Arcadia and Power Station), Glass Tiger, Katrina & The Waves, Grace Jones, Lloyd Cole, Pet Shop Boys, Queen, Roxette, Brian Setzer, The Smithereens, Spandau Ballet, and Paul Westerberg; punk/hard rock groups such as Butthole Surfers, Concrete Blonde, Billy Idol, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers; heavy metal bands like Poison, Megadeth, Iron Maiden and Queensrÿche; thrash metal bands like Exodus and Rigor Mortis, rap groups like the Beastie Boys, Mantronix; individuals like Robbie Robertson, jazz artist Dave Koz, and soul singer Freddie Jackson; and even a selective industrial/electronic artists such as Skinny Puppy. In 1983, the black prism label with the dome logo, was brought back with white print for albums and 45's. The last label Capitol used on records was a return to the old purple label with the dome logo, after that, Compact discs became the normal way to buy recorded music. Since the advent of Compact Discs, labels on the discs have varied greatly.
Nineties acts include Selena, Blind Melon, Garth Brooks, Meredith Brooks, Coldplay, The Dandy Warhols, Dilated Peoples, Doves, Everclear, Foo Fighters, Geri Halliwell, Ice Cube, Idlewild, Jane's Addiction, Jimmy Eat World, Ras Kass, Kottonmouth Kings, Ben Lee, Less Than Jake, Luscious Jackson, Tara MacLean, Marcy Playground, Mazzy Star, MC Eiht, MC Hammer, MC Ren, The Moffatts, Moist, Liz Phair, Lisa Marie Presley, Radiohead, Bonnie Raitt, Snoop Dogg, Spearhead, Starsailor, STIR, Supergrass, Télépopmusik, Television, Richard Thompson,Butthole Surfers and Robbie Williams.
In 2001, EMI merged the Capitol Records label with the Priority Records label. Capitol lost the deal to Viacom] and it was no longer a subsidiary. The combined label manages rap artists including Cee-Lo, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and C-Murder, Lil Romeo, and Lil Zane. Other 2000s artists include J. Holiday, Jiggolo, LeToya (who had the first #1 album for the label since MC Hammer's 1990 Please Hammer Don't Hurt Em), Zay, Red Cafe, Aslyn, Auf Der Maur, Big Moe, Borialis, Chingy, The Decemberists, Dexter Freebish, From First to Last, The F-Ups, Faith Evans, Faultline, Fischerspooner, Interpol, Jonny Greenwood, Katy Perry, Kudai, Ed Harcourt, Houston, Van Hunt, Javier, Mae, Matthew Jay, Methrone, Kylie Minogue, Dave Navarro, OK Go, Lisa Marie Presley, Relient K, Roscoe, RBD, Saosin, Squad Five-O, Otep, The Star Spangles, Steriogram, Supervision, Skye Sweetnam, The Vines, Yellowcard, Young Bleed,Young Life, Don Yute, Cherish, Shout Out Louds, Hurt, Corinne Bailey Rae, The Magic Numbers, Hedley, End of Fashion, Mims and Morningwood.
In 2006, the label signed a deal to distribute Fat Joe and his Terror Squad Entertainment. Around the same time, Capitol was able to sign New York phenom Mims. In this deal they also agreed to distribute his American King Music label. Around this time they were also able to add J. Holiday, the main artist for Music Line Group to the label as they have all become frequent collaborators. Now it seems that Capitol has gained ground on some of the more popular labels such as Def Jam, or Interscope Records with these signings. In 2007, they were able to strike up a distribution deal with The Game's The Black Wall Street Records and have signed former Bad Boy Records star Faith Evans. Jermaine Dupri and his So So Def Recordings label were briefly signed on to the label as a result of the Virgin Records merger. Dupri was the head of urban music for the label.
In February 2007, EMI announced a merger of Virgin Records and Capitol Records into the Capitol Music Group, as part of this restructuring, hundreds of staff from multiple divisions were laid off and many artists were cut from the roster. With the sale of the Capitol Tower, EMI is planning to close Capitol's operations in Los Angeles and concentrate its work force in New York City.
Capitol Records also released some of the most notable original cast albums and motion picture soundtrack albums ever made. Between 1955 and 1956, they released the soundtrack albums of three now-classic film versions of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, Oklahoma!, Carousel, and The King and I. The mono versions of the albums were all released the same year that the films were released. But all three films had been made in then state-of-the-art stereophonic sound, and so, Capitol was able to release stereo albums of the three respective soundtracks after stereo LP's became a reality. However, the mono and stereo versions did not contain always identical material. Because stereo grooves took up more space at the time than mono grooves, the former versions of the soundtracks were always somewhat shorter than the latter. This was not much of a problem with Oklahoma!, because the album itself as then printed was relatively short, so all that was missing from the stereo version was a few seconds of the overture. With Carousel, however, half of the Carousel Waltz had to be lopped off from the stereo version, and with The King and I, the instrumental bridge from the song Getting to Know You was completely removed from the stereo version. These soundtrack albums (especially Oklahoma!) were bestsellers for Capitol for many years, until, in the 1990s, the rights to them were bought by Angel Records. Angel Records not only restored the portions which had been omitted from the stereo LPs and original CD issues, but, in 2001, issued new expanded editions which included all music which had been omitted from every previous edition of these soundtracks, bringing the playing time of each to well over an hour. All three albums continue to be best sellers to this day.
In 1957, Capitol Records issued the original cast album of The Music Man, starring Robert Preston, an album which became one of the biggest cast album sellers of all time, even after the highly successful film version of the show was released in 1962. Capitol was also responsible for the original cast and movie soundtrack albums of Cole Porter's Can-Can and the original cast album of Stephen Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. In 1962, Capitol issued a studio cast recording of the songs from Lionel Bart's Oliver!, in anticipation of its U.S. tour prior to its opening on Broadway.
In 1966, Capitol released the soundtrack album of the documentary tribute, , a film made by the United States Information Agency, and originally not intended for general viewing. However, the quality of the film was considered so high that the public was eventually allowed to see it. The film featured the voice of Gregory Peck as narrator, with narration written and music composed by Bruce Herschensohn. The album was virtually a condensed version of the film - it included the narration as well as the music.
One spoken word album which was immensely successful for Capitol was that of the soundtrack of Franco Zeffirelli's smash film version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which became the highest grossing Shakespeare film for years. The album featured not only Nino Rota's score, but large chunks of Shakespeare's dialog. The success of this album in that pre-VHS era spurred Capitol to issue two other Romeo and Juliet albums - one a three-disk album containing the entire soundtrack of the film (dialog and music), and another album containing only Nino Rota's score.
However, as Capitol was to be later accused of doing with Beatles albums, there was some tampering with the Years of Lightning and Romeo and Juliet albums. Extra music was added to some scenes which, in the actual film, contained little or no music, such as the duel between Romeo and Tybalt. Presumably this was done to show off the score - and at the end of both the abridged and complete versions of the Romeo albums, the end credits music was omitted, especially unfortunate since virtually all of the film's credits were saved for the end of the picture.
Capitol tried to strike gold again with another spoken word album, one made from the 1970 film Cromwell, starring Richard Harris and Alec Guinness, but in this case, both film and album were not successful.
The influence of the Romeo and Juliet album spread to other record companies for a brief while. Columbia Records issued an album of dialog and music excerpts from the successful 1970 Dustin Hoffman film, Little Big Man, and 20th Century Fox Records included George C. Scott's opening and closing speeches, as well as Jerry Goldsmith's score, in their soundtrack album made from the film Patton.
Capitol has been criticised many times for the heavy modification of albums being sold by Capitol in the USA which had been released in other countries beforehand. Possibly most infamous is Capitol's creation of "new" albums by The Beatles. This began with Capitol's release of Meet the Beatles!, the first album by the group to be released by Capitol in the USA. It was quite literally the British album With the Beatles, with five tracks ("Money", "You've Really Got A Hold On Me", "Devil In Her Heart", "Please Mister Postman", and "Roll Over Beethoven") removed in favor of both sides of the band's first American hit single, which consisted of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "I Saw Her Standing There". They also added on the British version of the single's B-Side, "This Boy". Also notable is the issuing of "duophonic" stereo releases of some recordings where the original master was monophonic. Capitol engineers split the single master monaural track into two, boosted the bass on one track, boosted treble on the other track and combined them slightly out of phase to produce a "fake stereo" release. This duophonic process meant that the Beatles' American fans would often hear a slightly different song from that heard by the rest of the world.
This trend continued through the Beatles' American discography, until the albums had little relation to their original British counterparts. The Beatles' albums were finally released unmodified starting with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. This was thanks to a renegotiation of the Beatles' complicated management and recording contracts. Tired of the way Capitol in the US and other companies around the world were issuing their work in almost unrecognizable pieces, beginning in 1967, they had full approval of all album titles and cover art, track listing and running order, worldwide. Their first order of business was to stop the issuing of 45 RPM singles featuring tracks taken from their albums. Instead they would issue non-album tracks as singles in between album releases. This policy changed in late 1969 when a severe cash crunch hit the Beatles company, Apple Corps., and the band was forced (at the urgent behest of new manager Allen B. Klein) to issue a single immediately in conjunction with the "Abbey Road" album (Something/Come Together) in order to pay bills. Four months later Apple allowed Capitol Records to issue the singles compilation "Hey Jude" (aka "The Beatles Again") to keep cash flowing to the company.
This continued with other bands:
The company has also had a history of making mistakes with album releases; the American release of Klaatu's debut album had several spelling errors on the track list, and later Capitol pressings of CD versions of Klaatu's albums suffered severe quality problems. The poor sound quality of Duran Duran's May 1982 release Rio (on Capitol subsidiary Harvest), contributed to the lag in initial sales, until a remixed version of the album was released in November.
See main article: Capitol Records Building. The Capitol Records Tower is one of the most distinctive landmarks in Hollywood, California. The 13-story earthquake-resistant tower, designed by Welton Becket, was the world's first circular office building, and is home to several recording studios. Although not originally specifically designed as such, the wide curved awnings over windows on each story and the tall spike emerging from the top of the building combine to give it the appearance of a stack of vinyl 45s on a turntable.
The construction of the building was ordered by British company EMI soon after its 1955 acquisition of Capitol Records, and was completed in April 1956. The building is located just north of the intersection of Hollywood and Vine and is the center of the consolidated West Coast operations of Capitol Records -- and was nicknamed "The House That Nat Built" to recognize the enormous financial contributions of Capitol star Nat "King" Cole. The rectangular ground floor is a separate structure, joined to the tower after it was completed.
In mid-2008, a controversy erupted over a plan to build a condominium complex next door, igniting fears that the building's legendary acoustical properties (specifically its renowned underground echo chambers) would be compromised.
The blinking light atop the tower spells out the phrase "Hollywood" in Morse code, and has done so since the building's opening in 1956. This was an idea of Capitol's then president, Alan Livingston, who wanted to subtly advertise Capitol's status as the first record label with a base on the west coast. The switch activating the light was thrown by Lyla Morse, Samuel Morse's granddaughter. In 1992 it was changed to read "Capitol 50" in honor of the label's fiftieth anniversary. It has since returned to spelling "Hollywood".
In the 1974 disaster blockbuster film Earthquake, the tower was shown collapsing during a massive tremor. Thirty years later, in an homage to Earthquake, the tower was again depicted as being destroyed, this time by a massive tornado, in The Day After Tomorrow.
See main article: Capitol Studios. Capitol's recording studios were designed by guitarist and sound expert Les Paul to minimize noise and vibration, a newly important goal in the high-fidelity sound era.
The studios feature 10-inch-thick concrete exterior walls, surrounding a one-inch air gap, surrounding an inner wall that floats on layers of rubber and cork — all in an effort to provide complete sound isolation.
The facility also features echo chambers: subterranean concrete bunkers allowing engineers to add real physical reverberation during the recording process. The eight chambers are located 30 feet underground, and are trapezoidal-shaped with 10-inch concrete walls and 12-inch thick concrete ceilings. The chambers feature speakers on one side and microphones on the other, permitting an echo effect lasting up to five seconds.
Studios A and B can be combined for the recording of orchestral music and symphonic movie soundtracks.
The first album recorded in the tower was Frank Sinatra Conducts Tone Poems of Color.
Capitol Records of Canada was established in 1949 by independent businessman W. Lockwood Miller. Capitol Records broke with Miller's company and formed Capitol Record Distributors of Canada Limited in 1954. EMI acquired this company when it acquired Capitol Records. In 1957, Paul White established an A&R department independent of the American company to promote talent for the Canadian market. They include home grown Canadian talent (of which Anne Murray is one of the more famous examples) as well as EMI artists from other countries. Canada-only issues bore 6000 series catalog numbers for LPs and 72000 series catalog numbers for singles. Capitol Canada issues of American Capitol recordings bore the same catalog numbers as their American counterparts. The company was renamed back to Capitol Records of Canada Ltd in 1958 after Miller's rights to the name expired. Beginning in 1962, Capitol of Canada issued albums by British artists such as Cliff Richard, Helen Shapiro and Frank Ifield. They said yes to The Beatles from day one, even though the American company turned them down during most of 1963. The company was renamed Capitol Records-EMI of Canada in 1974 then adopted its present name, EMI Music Canada, in the early 1990s.http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=U1ARTU0000604http://www.capitol6000.com/http://www.emimusic.ca/history.asp
The current headquarters for EMI Music Canada, which operates the Capitol label, are located in Mississauga, Ontario.
The Canadian branch of Capitol won two Juno Awards in 1971, the leading music awards in that country. One Juno was for "Top Record Company" and the other was for "Top Promotional Company".
Capitol Music Taiwan was established in 2006. It is home to several artistes who are megastars in the Chinese Music Industry. They include Jolin Tsai (蔡依林), Stefanie Sun (孫燕姿), Zhang Hui Mei (張惠妹), Stanley Huang (黄立行) and Show Luo (羅志祥). Even though artistes are signed on with this label, the albums are still released under EMI Music Taiwan. The label is now the label with the highest sales among all labels in Taiwan.
In 2008, EMI Music Taiwan is acquired by Paco Wong's Gold Label Records, which has been renamed as Gold Typhoon(金牌大風). With reference to Jolin's Love Exercise Album released after the acquiring, the label of "Capitol Music" is not remained by Gold Typhoon.