London Recordings

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London Recordings (or London Records and London Music Stream) is a British record label that marketed records in the United States, Canada, and Latin America for Decca Records from 1947 to 1979 before becoming semi-independent. The London name - as "London American Recordings", often shortened to London American - was also used by British Decca in the UK market, for releases taken from American labels which British Decca licensed.

London Recordings
London Recordings logo.svg
Parent companyUniversal Music Group (pre-1979 catalogue)
Because Music (label and most of post-1979 catalogue)
Warner Music Group (most of post-1998 catalogue)
Founded1947 (1947)
FounderEdward Lewis
Distributor(s)Decca Records/UMe (pre-1979 catalogue)
Caroline Distribution (most of post-1979 catalogue)
Warner/Rhino (most of post-1998 catalogue released under Warner Music Group ownership of label)
Country of originUnited Kingdom

Currently the label is owned by Because Music, which also owned most of post-1979 catalogue and several of post-1998 catalogue.


Gramophone era logo

London arose from the split in ownership between the British and American branches of Decca Records. The American branch of London Records released British Decca records in the U.S. since British Decca could not use the "Decca" name there. The label was noted for classical albums made in then state-of-the-art stereophonic sound, and such artists as Georg Solti, Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti.

The London name was also used by British Decca in the UK market for releases taken from American labels which British Decca licensed, such as Imperial, Chess, Dot, Atlantic, Specialty, Essex and Sun, and the first two UK releases from Motown. By the 1960s more licensing deals had been made with Big Top, Monument, Parrot, Philles, and Hi, and subsidiary labels were London Atlantic, London Dot and London Monument (the last featuring Roy Orbison, who remained with London in the UK even after he signed for MGM Records in the U.S.).

An unusual feature was the letter code in the numbering system. From the late 1950s until 1973, the label bore the logo "London American Recordings", and on Radio Luxembourg it was known as "London American".

1965 London Records trade ad for the Rolling Stones

In America, the label was best known as the American imprint of the pre–1971 recordings of the Rolling Stones (currently owned by ABKCO). The label also originally issued some early LPs and singles by Texas-based band ZZ Top (whose catalog went to Warner Brothers when the band moved there).

In the late 1970s, London signed deals with Bomp! Records and with Big Sound in Connecticut, U.S. This changed the label in the eyes of many from a backwater into something a little more "edgy" compared to the pedestrian contemporary releases from parent company Decca.

The president of London Records in the 1970s was D. H. Tollerbond.[1]

After British Decca was acquired by PolyGram in 1979, London followed a more independent course with subsidiary labels such as Slash, Pete Tong's Essential Records and FFRR.

Universal Music Group (the owner of American Decca) acquired PolyGram in 1998;[1] however, by this time, London Records had become a semi-independent label within the PolyGram group operated by Roger Ames. In the 1990s Tracy Bennet became President and Colin Bell, Managing Director. When Ames moved to the Warner Music Group, he took the label with him, and so almost all of London's recent back catalogue was acquired by Warner, which also acquired the London name and trademark from Decca [2] (which still owns pre-1979 back catalogue). The name is still used, mainly for UK-based artists, and for ex-Factory Records artists. Notable artists released by that incarnation of London, called London Records 90, include New Order, Happy Mondays, A, and Shakespears Sister.

After PolyGram took over British Decca, classical-music albums recorded by British Decca continued to be released on the London label in the U.S., with a logo similar to the Decca classical label logo, until American Decca owner Universal bought British Decca owner PolyGram in 1998, after which they were all reissued on the original British Decca label in the U.S.

The London pop music catalogue owned by Universal Music is now managed by Polydor Records, with US distribution handled by Mercury Records. Decca Records had a recording studio in Blomfield Road, West London; there may have been another in London's West End. In 2010, Universal Music reclaimed ownership of the London Records trademark. Even Universal Music again owned this trademark, Warner Music Group licensed it to be used on its reissues of London's catalogue controlled by Warner Records 90 company. On 1 July 2011 Universal Music reclaimed the London Records name and relaunched it under the executive team of Nick Raphael (president) and later Jo Charrington (senior vice president of A&R) who together previously ran Epic Records for Sony Music Entertainment since 2001. Both had started their careers at London Records in the Ames era in the 1990s.[2]

When Nick Raphael became president of Capitol Records's UK division in 2013, London Records moved there,[3] and operated as a sublabel until Because Music acquisition of trademark in 2017.

In July 2017, Because Music announced that it would acquire Warner Records 90, a subsidiary of Warner Music UK that reissued most London Records artists from post-1979 era, plus very few titles from post-1998 era, when Warner Music owned the label.[4] Because completed the deal in August 2017, which includes the rights to over fifty London artists (including Bananarama and Happy Mondays) and FFRR 1986 catalogue. Major exclusion of the post-1979 era was the New Order catalogue for Factory Records - they are still owned by Warner Music, now controlled by Warner Music UK company, even copyright notices still sometimes says Warner Records 90, an entity acquired by Because Music. Current reissues of New Order catalogue no longer bears London logo, but sometimes Factory logo appears.

With a new team in place London Records is now trading again as an independent label.[5] Recent releases include 'Singles Party (1988-2019)' which includes new music from Shakespears Sister plus reissues from Blancmange, Bananarama, Bronski Beat, The Redskins and Goldie.

Subsidiary or associated labelsEdit

London Records had dozens of subsidiary and distributed labels throughout its existence. Among the labels are:



2010s (reopened label)Edit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Cat People, Bill Hayward, introduction by Rogers E. M. Whitaker. New York: Dolphin/Doubleday, 1978 (p. 132)
  2. ^ "Raphael to relaunch London Records for Universal | UNLIMITED | CMU". 31 May 2011. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  3. ^ "Universal Music Group". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  4. ^ "Because confirms acquisition of London Records catalogue - Music Business Worldwide". 6 July 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  5. ^ "Because Group acquires catalogue of iconic London Records". Retrieved 12 September 2018.

External linksEdit