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Monument Records is an American record label in Washington, D.C. named for the Washington Monument, founded in 1958 by Fred Foster, Buddy Deane (a prominent Baltimore disc jockey at WTTG), and business manager Jack Kirby. Buddy Deane soon left the company, and in the early '60s bought KOTN in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he retired until his death. Foster and Kirby relocated to the Nashville suburb of Hendersonville, Tennessee. Monument's releases include a variety of genres, including rock and roll, country, jazz, and rhythm and blues.
|Parent company||Sony Music Entertainment|
|Country of origin||U.S.|
In the beginning, Monument was the first label to be distributed by London Records.
Monument Records' first release (October 1958) was also the label's first hit. Billy Grammer's "Gotta Travel On" became a US Top 5 Billboard record chart success which sold over 900,000 copies. It also spawned a nationwide dance craze called "The Shag".
The signing of former Sun Records singer Roy Orbison brought more success to Monument Records, beginning with the 1960 release "Only the Lonely." By 1961, London Records was distributing more than forty independent companies, prompting Foster to move Monument to the independent-distributor network.
In 1971, Foster signed a worldwide distribution agreement with CBS Records. The distribution agreement lasted until 1976. Foster switched distribution to Polygram which lasted until 1982, and then once again CBS handled distribution until 1990.
In addition to Orbison, Monument became home to a number of other artists including Robert Knight, Kris Kristofferson, Jeannie Seely, Boots Randolph, Dolly Parton, Ray Stevens, Cindy Walker, Tony Joe White, Charlie McCoy, Willie Nelson, J.K. Coltrain, Tommy Roe, The Velvets, Connie Smith, Larry Jon Wilson, Larry Gatlin, and Robert Mitchum.
Foster started a soul and R&B label Sound Stage 7 in 1963. Artists on Sound Stage 7 included Joe Simon, The Dixie Belles, Arthur Alexander, and Ivory Joe Hunter. Another Monument sublabel was Rising Sons Records.
Foster invested heavily in a banking venture in the 1980s, and sustained disastrous financial losses as a result. It was this that led to the forced sale of Monument and its publishing counterpart, Combine Music Group, in 1990. CBS Records acquired the Monument catalog, and its successor company Sony Music reactivated the label in 1997 as a country label. Some successful artists signed to Monument during this era were Little Big Town and Dixie Chicks. Monument Records catalog is managed by Sony Music's Legacy Recordings unit.
In January 2017, Sony Music announced it had revived the iconic Monument label in a joint venture with Sandbox Entertainment CEO and manager Jason Owen (Little Big Town, Faith Hill, Kacey Musgraves) and songwriter/producer Shane McAnally (Kenny Chesney, Old Dominion, Sam Hunt). Owen and McAnally will serve as co-presidents, and have signed artists Caitlyn Smith and Walker Hayes.
- "Sony Music's Monument Records Revived By Jason Owen, Shane McAnally". Billboard. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
- Billboard Music Week - Spotlight Singles of the Week. November 10, 1962. p. 48. Retrieved July 12, 2015 – via Internet Archive.
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- "Billboard – Google Books". September 16, 1967. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
- "SONY BMG: One Word, Three Letters And A Whole Lot Of History". Top40-Charts.com. Retrieved March 25, 2016.