Capitol Records
USINFO | 2014-06-23 10:50


Parent company
  • Universal Music Group
  • EMI Group Limited (1955-2012)
Founded Los Angeles, 1942
Founder Johnny Mercer
Buddy DeSylva
Glenn Wallichs
Distributor(s) Capitol Music Group
Genre Various
Country of origin United States
Location Capitol Records Building
Los Angeles, California
Official website

Capitol Records, LLC is a major Americanrecord label that is part of the Capitol Music Group and is a wholly owned division of Universal Music Group. Founded in 1942 by three industry insiders, the label has recorded and released material by artists such as Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, The Kingston Trio, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Glen Campbell, Kraftwerk, Megadeth, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Coldplay, and Katy Perry among many others. Eventually acquired by EMI (which was acquired by Universal Music in 2012 and merged with UMG in 2013 after selling former sister label Parlophone to Warner Music), the label has released records in many musical genres. Its Los Angeles headquarters building Capitol Records Tower is a recognized landmark.

Capitol Music Taiwan was established in 2006. It is home to several megastar artists in the Chinese music industry. They include Jolin Tsai (蔡依林), Stefanie Sun (孙燕姿),Zhang Hui Mei (张惠妹), Stanley Huang (黄立行) and Show Luo (罗志祥). Even though artists are signed to this label, the albums are released under EMI Music Taiwan. The label had the highest sales among all labels in Taiwan between 2006 and 2008.

In 2008, EMI Music Taiwan was acquired by Paco Wong's Gold Label Records and reformed as Gold Typhoon Entertainment Limited (金牌大风). The name is in reference to Jolin'sLove Exercise album released after the acquisition. However the label of "Capitol Music" is not part of Gold Typhoon.

The Capitol Records Tower in Hollywood, with mural by Richard Wyatt titled Hollywood Jazz featuring prominent jazz artists Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington.

Capitol Records is a major American record label that is part of Capitol Music Group. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Universal Music Group. Founded in 1942 by a group of industry insiders, the label was immediately successful. Unlike most of the independent labels started in the 1940s, Capitol found financial stability and continued chart success, and over the years has recorded and released important material by such artists as Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, The Kingston Trio, The Beatles, Exodus, and Megadeth among many others. Eventually acquired by EMI, the label has continued as an American powerhouse. Capitol has released records in pop, rock, classical, jazz, rap, and most other music genres. Its headquarters building has become an internationally recognized landmark.

Record altering
Capitol has been criticised many times for the heavy modification of albums being released in other countries before being released in the USA by Capitol. Possibly most infamous is the company'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 the right channel, boosted treble on the left channel and add a split-second delay between channels 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.

When With the Beatles was initially released in Brazil by EMI-Odeon, as well as in Canada, the title was at first modified to Beatlemania.

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 issuing 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 immediately issue a single in conjunction with the Abbey Road album (Something/Come Together) so they could pay bills. Four months later, Apple let Capitol Records issue the singles compilation Hey Jude (aka The Beatles Again) to keep cash flowing to the company.

This continued with other bands:
Pink Floyd's first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (on the Tower label), had several tracks removed in favor of their first hit single "See Emily Play". This was criticized because the removed tracks combined ("Flaming", "Bike", and "Astronomy Domine") were much longer than "Emily", making the removal of the three completely unnecessary for reasons of running time.
Iron Maiden's first two albums, Iron Maiden and Killers, had additional tracks as opposed to their UK counterparts. Iron Maiden's 1980 self-titled debut was released in the US a few months after its UK release with the track "Sanctuary" added on. Its follow-up, 1981's Killers, was also released a few months after later in the US after its initial UK release with the track "Twilight Zone" added to the album.
Megadeth's "Risk" album was littered with samples and guitar pieces that Dave Mustaine never authorized, causing him to release one final album on Capitol, Capitol Punishment, and then move on to a new label Sanctuary Records. As of right now, Megadeth's future with Capitol seems very bright, as they have released all their Remastered discs and their most recent Greatest Hits albums with Capitol. After leaving Sanctuary Records, it was rumoured that Megadeth would return to Capitol, but the rumor turned out to be untrue as Megadeth have recently signed with Roadrunner Records.

The company has also had a history of making mistakes with album releases; the American release of Klaatu's debut album 3:47 EST 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.

The Capitol Records Building
The Capitol Records Tower is one of the most distinctive landmarks in Hollywood. 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 acoustic 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 Leila 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.

In September 2006, owner EMI announced that it had sold the tower and adjacent properties for $50 million to New York-based developer Argent Ventures.

It was announced in November 2012 that Steve Barnett would become Chairman & CEO of Capitol Music Group and would be based at the Capitol Records Building. Coordinates: 34.103085°N 118.326189°W

Recently, Capitol Records and artist Richard Wyatt joined forces to restore his iconic Hollywood Jazz Mural on the south wall of the Capitol Records building. Restored in hand-glazed ceramic tile, the mural is 26ft. by 88ft. Entitled "Hollywood Jazz: 1945-1972", this masterpiece entails “larger than life” images of: Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Charlie Parker, Tito Puente, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Shelly Manne, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. The mural also depicts a stone background on which names of prominent jazz legends are etched in stone, such as John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughn, Charles Mingus, Buddy Collette, Teddy Edwards, McCoy Tyner, and others.

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