|Parent company||American Broadcasting Company|
(sold and absorbed into MCA Records in 1979)
|Country of origin||USA|
ABC Records was an American record label, founded in New York City in 1955 as ABC-Paramount Records. It originated as the main popular music label operated the Am-Par Record Corporation, the music subsidiary of the American Broadcasting Company (then known as ABC-Paramount). Am-Par also established the Impulse! jazz label in 1961 and subsequently acquired a number of other labels before the entire division was sold to MCA Records in 1979.
ABC-Paramount (full name "American Broadcasting-Paramount Theaters") -- the direct antecedent of the present-day American Broadcasting Company -- evolved from federal antitrust actions taken against the movie studios and broadcasting companies in the 1940s and early 1950s. As a result of a 1943 FCC action against anti-competitive practices, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was forced to sell off its broadcast subsidiary the Blue Network, the sister network of NBC, and Blue was purchased by the American Broadcasting System, Inc. In 1953 American Broadcasting merged with United Paramount Theaters, the divested former exhibition/cinema division of Paramount Pictures. The newly merged corporation was chaired by former Paramount Theaters executive Leonard Goldenson and was originally headquartered at 1501 Broadway in New York City, above the Paramount Theater in Times Square.
In addition to producing records directly, ABC licensed finished masters from independent producers and purchased regionally-released records for national distribution. The corporate name of Am-Par Record Corporation was changed to ABC-Paramount Records, Inc. in 1962, and then to ABC Records, Inc. in 1967.
In 1965, ABC-Paramount Records changed the imprint's name to ABC Records. They distributed Dunhill Records until this label was purchased to form ABC-Dunhill Records. They also distributed Sire Records and UK-based Anchor Records. Because the company was suffering financial problems, ABC Records was sold in 1979 to MCA Records, which discontinued the ABC label. The better selling albums in the ABC Records catalog were reissued on the MCA label.
ABC Records sub-labeled Apt Records to release singles. In the early 1960s, they purchased the Westminster Records classical music label. In 1961 ABC launched its new Impulse! Records label to record and distribute jazz. Under the guidance of the founding label manager Creed Taylor and his successor Bob Thiele, Impulse soon became famous for its innovative releases, most notably the string of groundbreaking albums recorded by John Coltrane between 1961 and his death in 1967. Several years later, Bluesway Records was created to distribute ABC's blues releases.
ABC Records purchased Dunhill Records in the summer of 1967, forming "ABC Dunhill Records." They purchased Don Robey's record labels including Duke Records, Peacock Records, Back Beat Records and Song Bird Records on May 23, 1973. Afterwards, they also purchased the Famous Music record labels from Gulf and Western in 1974 (these included Dot Records and Blue Thumb Records).
In addition to sub-labels, ABC Records purchased all labels from Enoch Light in October, 1959. ABC acquired Audition Records, Command Performance Records, Colortone Records and Waldorf Music Hall Records.
This is not the same ABC Records that operates in Australia, which is run by national pubcaster the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (although the Ampar label was distributed in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s, first by W&G Records (1955-60) and then by Festival Records), nor is it the sublabel of Voiceprint Records.
The catalogues of ABC Records and its sublabels are now controlled by Universal Music Group with exceptions being the Jim Croce catalog being controlled by Saja Records along with Jim's estate and distributed primarily by the Warner Music Group, the Ray Charles catalog which is controlled by Ray's estate and distributed by the Warner Music Group, and the Amazing Rhythm Aces catalog, which is controlled by Sony Music Entertainment. The pop music catalogue is managed by Geffen Records, the jazz catalogue is managed by Verve Records, the country music catalog is managed by MCA Nashville Records and the classical music catalogue is managed by Deutsche Grammophon Records.