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Elektra Records is an Americanmarker record label owned by Warner Music Group. In 2004, it was consolidated into WMG's Atlantic Records Group. After five years of dormancy, the label was revived by Atlantic in 2009.



Elektra was formed in 1950 by Jac Holzman and Paul Rickholt, who both invested $300. The usual spelling of the Greek mythological heroine Electra was changed, with Holzman famously explaining, “I gave her the ‘K’ that I lacked.”

The first Elektra LP, “New Songs” (EKLP 1 released March 1951), was a collection of Lieder and similar 'art' songs which sold few copies. During the Fifties and early Sixties the label concentrated on folk music recordings, releasing a number of best-selling albums by Judy Collins and protest singers such as Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton, but by the mid-Sixties it had branched out into pop, gaining considerable prestige on the music scene by being one of the first labels to sign up leading acts from the new wave of American psychedelic rock of 1966–67. The label’s most important signings were the Chicago-based Paul Butterfield Blues Band (with Mike Bloomfield), the Los Angeles bands Love and The Doors, and the Detroit bands The Stooges and MC5. One of Elektra's most significant LA signings was Tim Buckley, father-to-be of Jeff Buckley.

Also in 1967, Elektra launched its influential Nonesuch Explorer Series, one of the first collections of what is now referred to as world music. Excerpts from several Nonesuch Explorer recordings were later included on the two Voyager Golden Discs which were sent into deep space in 1977 aboard the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space probes.

Elektra also had an extremely popular Nonesuch classical budget series that was the best selling budget classical label of the era. Other labels followed suit by starting their own budget series, but Nonesuch remained the most popular and Jac Holzman states in his book that profits from the budget classical label made it possible for Elektra to experiment with their pop releases.

The Asylum Records merger

Elektra was acquired by Kinney National Company in 1970, along with the Nonesuch Records subsidiary. Soon afterwards Kinney consolidated their label holdings under the Warner Communications umbrella. Holzman remained in charge of Elektra until 1972, when it merged with Asylum Records to become Elektra/Asylum Records, with Asylum's founder, David Geffen, now in charge. Holzman was appointed senior vice president and chief technologist for Warner and ushered the company into home video and the first interactive cable system. Holzman also went on to start Discovery Records. In 1975 Geffen stepped down due to health problems. Joe Smith became CEO of Elektra/Asylum/Nonesuch during this period. Joe Smith later went on to become CEO of Capitol.

Although the company was technically listed as “Elektra/Asylum Records” on the label credits, as the years went on the company began to unofficially call itself Elektra Records again, with Asylum operating as a subsidiary label. In 1982 the label established Elektra Musician as a jazz subsidiary. Bob Krasnow became president and CEO of Elektra in 1983, and under his leadership the label continued to thrive.

Elektra Entertainment Group

In 1989, the company officially changed its name to Elektra Entertainment. Krasnow was replaced by Sylvia Rhone, who took over as CEO in 1994; the same year, the label became Elektra Entertainment Group. During this time, Elektra developed a relationship with the UKmarker-based label 4AD, becoming the North American distributor for 4AD acts such as the Pixies, The Breeders, Frank Black and The Amps. This eventually led to Elektra's sister label, Warner Strategic Marketing, signing an exclusive American distribution deal for nearly all 4AD releases from 1992 to 1998.

Despite having a large stable of noted acts, as the 1990s drew to a close, Elektra began to see a slump in revenue, while noticeably underperforming on the charts. It also developed a bit of a sullen reputation in the industry for not properly promoting many of its releases, thus earning the nickname "Neglectra" by many of its acts, and was easily lagging behind its sister labels, Warner Bros. Records and Atlantic Records.

Atlantic absorption

Rhino's Elektra box set "Forever Changing: the Golden Age of Elektra Records 1963-1973"
In February 2004, Warner Music Group was sold by Time Warner to a group of private investors made up of Thomas Lee Partners, Bain & Company, and Edgar Bronfman, Jr. (who assumed CEO duties).

Looking for ways to save money, the new owners of WMG decided to merge Elektra and Atlantic Records. Because it was the lesser performing label of the two, 40% of Elektra's operations were put into the new venture, while a commanding 60% of Atlantic's went in. Subsequently, the new company was called "Atlantic Records Group" with Elektra breaking off into a subsidiary which became dormant until the label was revived in 2009.

Elektra's catalog continues to be released/reissued by Rhino Records, which released a 5-CD box set various-artists compilation titled Forever Changing: the Golden Age of Elektra Records 1963-1973 in November, 2006.


Atlantic Records Group announced the revival of the Elektra Records label on June 1, 2009. The revived label is headed up by two new co-Presidents: Mike Caren, Exec. VP of A&R for Atlantic Records, and John Janick, founder and President of prominent indie label Fueled By Ramen. The label continues to operate under the Atlantic Records Group umbrella.

See also

External links


  • A full history of Elektra's Holzman years can be found in Jac Holzman's book Follow the Music: The Life and High Times of Elektra Records in the Great Years of American Pop Culture. First Media Books (1998). ISBN 0966122119.

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