Atlantic Recording Corporation (simply known as Atlantic Records) is an American record label founded in October 1947 by:
Over its first 20 years of operation, Atlantic earned a reputation as one of the most important American labels, specializing in jazz, R&B, and soul’. In the late 1940’s the record industry was enjoying a resurgence after wartime restrictions on the shellac used in manufacture.
(Joe later signed with Atlantic). He founded Jubilee in 1946 but had no interest in its most successful musicians. In September 1947, he sold his share in Jubilee to his partner, Jerry Blaine, and invested $2,500 in Atlantic.
Atlantic’s first recordings were issued in late January 1948 and included “That Old Black Magic” by Tiny Grimes and “The Spider” by Joe Morris. In its early years, Atlantic concentrated on modern jazz although it released some country and western and spoken word recordings.
In early 1949, a New Orleans distributor phoned Ertegun to obtain Stick McGhee’s “Drinking Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee”, which was unavailable due to the closing of McGhee’s previous label. Ertegun knew Stick’s younger brother Brownie McGhee, with whom Stick happened to be staying, so he contacted the McGhee brothers and re-recorded the song. When released in February 1949, it became Atlantic’s first hit, selling 400,000 copies, and reached No. 2 after spending almost six months on the Billboard R&B chart – although McGhee himself earned just $10 for the session.
Joe Morris, one of the label’s earliest signings, scored a hit with his October 1950 song “Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere”, the first Atlantic record issued in 45rpm format, which the company began pressing in January 1951. Above is “Drinkin Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee” on the 45 R.P.M. format. At the time of writing this “Lounge” no photo of “Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere”, as a 45, can be found.
Atlantic missed an important signing in 1955 when Sun owner Sam Phillips sold Elvis Presley’s recording contract in a bidding war between labels. Atlantic offered $25,000 which, Ertegun later noted, “was all the money we had then.” But they were outbid by RCA’s offer of $45,000.
In the 1960’s such acts such as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Soloman Burke were signed. However, the late 1960’s saw a distribution deal with Stax records out of Memphis and the acquisition of the label by Warner Brothers.
Up until this point the label almost exclusively signed and supported Black artists. The exception was Bobby Darin in the 1950’s but he was relegated to the “Atco” label and not the main Atlantic label.
ATCO Records is an American record company and label founded in 1955 as a division of Atlantic Records It was devised as an outlet for productions by one of Atlantic’s founders, Herb Abramson, who had returned to the company from military service. It was also intended as a home for acts that did not fit the format of Atlantic, which was releasing blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, and soul. In other words, Black-African American artists. The exception was the Coasters but most of their records were on the “Novelty” side.
Atlantic signed Rock ‘n Roll/Pop acts like Cream, Sonny & Cher, Buffalo Springfield, and yes, they even put out one of the Beatles singles. Though all of these acts music was released on the “ATCO” label.
In May 1988, the label held a 40th Anniversary concert, broadcast on HBO. This concert, which was almost 13 hours in length, featured performances by a large number of their artists and included reunions of some rock legends like Led Zeppelin and Crosby, Stills, and Nash.
Atlantic was bought by the Time-Warner music group. Time Warner then sold Warner Music Group to a group of investors for $2.6 billion in late 2003. The deal closed in early 2004, consolidating Elektra Records and Atlantic into one label operated in the eastern United States. The label survives but as part of a corporate conglomerate.
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