Follow TV Tropes


Creator / ABC Records

Go To

Between 1955 and 1979, ABC Records (originally known as ABC-Paramount) was a major player in the US music industry.

The ABC-Paramount era (1955-66)
The ABC-Paramount logo, promising "Full color fidelity"!

In The '50s, the American record industry was taking off in a big way — and two of the biggest labels, Columbia and RCA, were then owned by broadcast networks (CBS and NBC, respectively). The third network, ABC, decided to enter this lucrative field with ABC-Paramount Records, which was launched in 1955.

Some necessary clarification first: the label had no direct connection with Paramount Pictures. It took its name from American Broadcasting-Paramount Theaters, corporate parent of both ABC and the cinemas Paramount used to own until anti-trust laws forced the studio to divest its theaters in 1949.note 

While ABC-Paramount released its share of Easy Listening music, it was also the first major label created during the Rock & Roll era, and it was more enthusiastic about the new style than its older, stodgier competitors. The company had hits with both Teen Idols (Paul Anka, George Hamilton IV, Brian Hyland, Barry Mann) and groups (Joe Bennett and the Sparkletones, Danny and the Juniors, the Poni-Tails, the Royal Teens). It was also a major presence in R&B, where its signings included Fats Domino, The Impressions, B.B. King, Lloyd Price, and Ray Charles, who was wooed away from Atlantic with a generous $50,000 contract and ownership of his recordings. The company also had successful subsidiaries, including Impulse! (a Jazz imprint that soon became legendary) and Dunhill (which ABC originally distributed, then bought from co-founder Lou Adler). On the down side, ABC-Paramount was one of several American labels that failed to break Cliff Richard statesidenote , and the company was caught flat-footed by The British Invasion.

The ABC era (1966-79)
ABC's early 70s logo.

In June 1966, ABC-Paramount shortened its name to just ABC Records, adopting the iconic "circle" logo used by the TV network. Later in the decade, the label launched two new imprints, Bluesway (yes, for Blues artists) and Probe (whose hippie-oriented roster of Hard Rock and Psychedelic Rock included Soft Machine and Van der Graaf Generator); neither was as successful as Dunhill or Impulse! had been and, in late 1970, Probe was repurposed as an outlet for international ABC/Dunhill releases,note  which it remained until 1974. Still, ABC prospered for a while. Its new signing Steely Dan became one of the decade's most successful bands. Jim Croce became a major hitmaker during his tragically short career. The James Gang, which started as the only white act on Bluesway before transferring to ABC proper, introduced eventual solo star and future Eagle Joe Walsh to the world. Another Eagles-associated group, Poco, did a Channel Hop from Epic (where its albums had been moderately successful) and finally scored a pair of Top 20 singles.

However, the successes gradually became outweighed by the failures, and by the end of the decade ABC's record division had run into financial trouble. The end came in 1979, when MCA absorbed ABC and its entire roster and catalog — except for a few acts whose masters were owned by either themselves (Ray Charles' deal really paid off) or others (Jim Croce's catalog is owned by his managers).

ABC-Paramount acts with TV Tropes pages (several of these transferred to ABC after the name change)

ABC acts with TV Tropes pages (some of these were transferred from Dunhill, Impulse! and other ABC-owned labels)