Geffen Records is an American record label owned by the Universal
Music Group. It was founded by David Geffen in 1980, founder of Warner's Asylum records. Fired from his position at Warner Brothers Pictures in 1978, and locked in a 5-year contract with them, he convinced Warner to let him start the label. Geffen's first signee was Donna Summer
, whose album The Wanderer
was Geffen's first release. Later John Lennon
and Yoko Ono
's Double Fantasy
sold millions after Lennon's murder, giving Geffen their first number one album and single.
Geffen would build their reputation throughout the 80's as a major pop label by signing the likes of Elton John
, Kylie Minogue
, Peter Gabriel
, Sonic Youth
, Joni Mitchell
and Neil Young
(the last two of which ultimately returned to their original label, Reprise Records
). By the end of the decade the label became most famous for being a rock label by signing acts such as Guns N' Roses
's comeback era. They were also the first Western label to sign a Japanese metal band, with EZO
. This led to Geffen founding DGC Records to hold their more experimental rock groups (just in time for Alternative Rock
Geffen's contract with Warner ended in 1990, with the label being sold to Universal (called MCA Records at the time). David Geffen, made a billionaire from stock and Panasonic's brief acquisition of Universal, decided to step down from his position in 1995 to focus on Dreamworks
. During this time Geffen was one of the strongest independently managed labels of the time.
With Universal's acquisition of PolyGram in 1999, which lead them to pull in and reorganize their labels (independently operated included), Geffen was merged with A&M Records to form Interscope Records (interestingly, Interscope would later acquire Dream Works records who had been handling Geffen's distribution as a subsidiary up to that point). Geffen still operates as a separate entity, though much smaller to suit Interscope's needs. Since Geffen still had steady business, the Universal Music Group decided to fold MCA Records' artists into Geffen, diversifying their roster (Mary J. Blige
, Common, etc.). Around the same time Dream Works Records also folded, with the majority of its signees being moved to Geffen. Needless to say, the roster had moved from pop-rock to everything. Geffen decided to go with this, signing the likes of Ashlee Simpson and Snoop Dogg.
With all this new-found diversity, Geffen found themselves standing on the same level as Interscope. Many industry insiders thought Geffen would go back to independence within UMG. Yet by 2007 Interscope had absorbed Geffen even more.
List of artists
List of former artists: