TVD Radar: Elektra Records Marks 70th Anniversary

VIA PRESS RELEASE | 70 years ago this month – on October 10, 1950 – 19-year-old college student Jac Holzman started a record label in his dorm room. He decided to call it Elektra after a Greek demigoddess, and turned an M on its side to create the signature E for the label’s first logo. With that, one of the most pioneering, revered, and influential companies in music history was born.

To mark the occasion, Elektra today revealed a special anniversary logo that embodies Holzman’s original design and will be used on all Elektra and Elektra/Rhino releases through the end of 2021. The label will be celebrating the anniversary throughout the coming year, including: limited edition Elektra70 merchandise; a special limited edition Record Store Day box set; playlists curated, created, and marketed by Topsify; and extensive coverage across press and social media.

Elektra Co-Presidents Mike Easterlin and Gregg Nadel said: “As Elektra enters its eighth decade, we celebrate Jac and all the remarkable people who worked with him and came after him to make this label the special place that it remains today. With his impeccable taste, intelligence, and passion, Jac taught us to always follow the music and to serve and believe in our artists. We are honored and proud to carry on his incredible legacy.”

Jac Holzman noted: “With the 1946 launch of the LP, I sensed an opening and opportunity for new, independent labels to meticulously record and offer music the majors were not likely to touch. Over the years, every Elektra label head has brought with them different tastes and capabilities, which have kept the company healthy and fueled with the best of music over seven decades.”

Judy Collins, whom Holzman signed to Elektra in 1961, said: “Jac supported artists in a way that would give them comfort and affirmation, and over time Elektra would become a haven to dozens of gifted and talented people.” And John Densmore of the Doors – another Holzman signing – echoed Collins, saying: “We loved being on Elektra… and by being so diverse, the label served up healing salve for ears worldwide.”

Holzman’s early adventures in recording folk, ethnic music, and blues led to a golden age that saw him sign icons such as Judy Collins, the Doors, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Love, Tim Buckley, Bread, the Stooges, Carly Simon, Harry Chapin, and Queen. It was an eclectic roster filled with artists who defined genres while crossing and transcending them.

Along the way, he also revolutionized classical and world music marketing with the launch of the revolutionary Nonesuch label; set a new artistic standard in album cover design; and spearheaded innovations in audio recording. In 1970, Holzman joined his label with Atlantic and Warner Records to form the distribution powerhouse WEA.

In 1973, Holzman left Elektra to take, as he says, “a mid-life break.” But it wouldn’t be long before he would be back, serving as chief technologist for Warner Communications. A technological visionary, he played a leading role in launching the CD and home video, set up a pilot program that became MTV, held leadership posts at Pioneer Electronics and Panavision, started the first all-digital label, and more. Today, at the age of 89, Jac continues to serve as a trusted, invaluable advisor to the leadership of WMG. Among his many accolades, Jac was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.

Meanwhile, Elektra continued to flourish for the next three decades under several other highly influential music industry leaders – among them David Geffen (founder of Asylum), Joe Smith, Bob Krasnow, and Sylvia Rhone – all of whom continued to follow the path that Holzman forged: to be an artistic sanctuary where unique, original artists would be supported in pursuit of their visions.

Among the many groundbreaking artists who called Elektra/Asylum home from the mid-‘70s to the mid-‘00s were the likes of the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, Television, the Cars, Mötley Crüe, Teddy Pendergrass, Anita Baker, Metallica, Simply Red, 10,000 Maniacs, Tracy Chapman, Natalie Cole, Björk, Phish, the Cure, Missy Elliott, Jason Mraz, and many more.

In 2009, after a five-year hiatus, Elektra was reborn, and the past decade has seen the label once again become a beacon of artistic quality and authenticity. Two years ago, the Elektra Music Group was launched – bringing together the independent-spirited Elektra, Fueled by Ramen, and Roadrunner labels to create a fertile breeding culture for a roster of outstanding talent – from Brandi Carlile and Tones and I to Twenty One Pilots and Panic! At The Disco to Slipknot and Korn.

Please visit https://elektra70.elektrarecords.com/, which includes a PDF of Jac Holzman’s era-defining book, Follow the Music.

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