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Creator / Beggars Banquet Records

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Beggars Banquet Records was one of the longest-lived independent labels to emerge from the British Punk Rock era.

The story began in the early 1970s, when young entrepreneurs Martin Mills and Nick Austin started with a mobile discotheque that evolved into a chain of London record shops named after The Rolling Stones album Beggars Banquet. During the Punk era, groups such as Generation X began rehearsing in the basement of the Beggars store in Fulham. Mills and Austin began managing another of these bands, The Lurkers; when no one was interested in signing the group, they turned Beggars into a record company to release the music themselves. The Lurkers sold well enough to attract other performers to the new label, most notably Tubeway Army, whose singer Gary Numan seemed destined for stardom. Numan was beginning to transition from punk into the Synth-Pop that made him famous, but Beggars was running into financial trouble by purchasing synthesizers for him. Fortunately, WEA Records came to the rescue with a £100,000 distribution deal.

This new prosperity allowed Beggars to launch several independently distributed sublabels. One of these, Don't Fall Off the Mountain, was an outlet for American indie bands (including Chrome, who were previously on Beggars itself, and Jim Jarmusch's early group The Del-Byzanteens) that was named after Shirley MacLaine's autobiography. Meanwhile, Situation Two and 4AD were conceived as farm teams for the main imprint, but 4AD's roster of Dream Pop and Goth Rock performers gave it a distinct identity, and it eventually became as successful as Beggars itself. In the end, the only 4AD band that moved to Beggars was Bauhaus.

Beggars continued to prosper throughout The '80s, with signings including The Charlatans UK, The Cult, The Fall, Flesh for Lulu, Freeez, Gene Loves Jezebel, The Go-Betweens, Icicle Works, several Bauhaus solo projects (Love and Rockets, Peter Murphy, Tones on Tail), two former members of The Velvet Underground (John Cale and Nico), and even British rights to the Ramones for a few years.note These top-selling acts, along with an American distribution deal with RCA, allowed the company to survive the departures of key personnel (Nick Austin, 4AD founder Ivo Watts-Russell), as well as the collapse of the original Rough Trade Records and its distribution system, which endangered 4AD and other indies until Beggars formed a new distributor called RTM to take its place and pay off its debts. Along the way another sublabel, XL Recordings, became popular in its own right.

In The '90s and The 2000s, Beggars ended its corporate distribution deals and started a new holding company called the Beggars Group, which includes 4AD and XL as well as like-minded labels such as Matador, Young, and the reborn Rough Trade. The Beggars Banquet record label continued with new signings (including Bettie Serveert, Buffalo Tom, Died Pretty, and The Dylans) until 2008, when Martin Mills shut it down and transferred its artists to 4AD, although the imprint is still used for catalog reissues. Still, Beggars Banquet leaves behind a three-decade legacy that continues today.

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