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Creator / Chrysalis Records

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The first Chrysalis logo...
...and the second...
...and the third, used by Chrysalis Group...
...and the fourth, created for the 2016 relaunch.

Chrysalis Records was one of the major record comapnies of The '70s, The '80s, and The '90s. It eventually re-launched as an up-and-coming indie label.

The company evolved out of the Ellis-Wright Agency, a London-based booking and management firm founded in the mid-1960s by two former social secretaries named Terry Ellis and Chris Wright. Their clients included up-and-coming underground bands such as Ten Years After (who quickly became successful) and Jethro Tull, who had released only a flop single with MGM Records on which they were miscredited as "Jethro Toe". This fiasco led Ellis and Wright to start thinking about starting their own label, which they named Chrysalis as a both a Punny Name and a Portmanteau. note  In 1968, Chrysalis signed Tull with Island Records in England and Reprise Records in America as a production company; Island head Chris Blackwell made a deal that if Chrysalis' acts sold a certain amount of records in a year, it would become a label in its own right. To everyone's surprise, that's exactly what happened when Tull's second album, Stand Up, topped the British album charts. Chrysalis' first release (a Jethro Tull single titled "Sweet Dream", appropriately enough) hit British stores in October 1969. Three years later, Chrysalis began releasing in America through a distribution deal with Reprise's parent company, Warner (Bros.) Records.

During the 1970s, Chrysalis became a force in post-Beatles genres such as Progressive Rock (Jethro Tull, Procol Harum, Gentle Giant), Blues Rock (Ten Years After, Rory Gallagher), Folk Rock (Steeleye Span, Tir Na Nog) and Heavy Metal (UFO). The success of these acts allowed it to compete with major label "hippie" imprints such as Decca's Deram, EMI's Harvest and Philips/Phonogram's Vertigo, as well as like-minded indies such as Island and Charisma.

When Punk Rock arrived, Chrysalis signed Generation X, which paid off when singer Billy Idol underwent a Breakup Breakout; the label later added Stiff Little Fingers to its roster. In 1976, US Chrysalis ended its deal with Warners and became an independent label headquartered in Los Angeles, which allowed the label to sign American talent for almost the first time.note  These new pop-oriented performers, including Blondie, Pat Benatar, and Huey Lewis and the News, signaled that Chrysalis would go in a more mainstream direction during The '80s. Chrysalis also became the distributor for the up-and-coming Ska label 2 Tone, Ensign Records (home of Sinéad O'Connor), Chris Stein's short-lived Animal Records, and the UK indie label China Records (before the latter switched to Polydor Records in 1988). The company also spun off the Chrysalis Group, a small media firm which owned interests in television (Chrysalis co-produced the Max Headroom series, which crossed over with China signees Art of Noise under Chrysalis' wing), radio, and book publishing. Shortly after, it opened the dance music imprint Cooltempo, known for its eclectic roster of acid house and R&B artists and vocalists...and for being the UK label of the infamous Milli Vanilli.

In The '90s, Chrysalis was bought out by EMI, began signing Hip-Hop acts such as Arrested Development and Gang Starr, and had a string of British hits with Robbie Williams. However, by the Turn of the Millennium, the hits gradually stopped coming and the label became dormant.

In 2012, EMI was sold to Universal Music Group, which kept the American catalogue and Robbie Williams. For antitrust reasons, UMG sold the Chrysalis brand name and its European artists to Warner Music Group. Billy Idol stayed with Universal, but his band Generation X went to Warners. (Chrysalis' music publishing division was not included in the deal, and it is now part of BMG Rights Management.) The Chrysalis publisher started a label in the 1990's named The Echo Label, which is now mostly dormant under BMG.

This arrangement lasted until 2016, when Chrysalis went full circle again, as part of WMG's divestments to independent labels. Warner sold the label to Blue Raincoat Music, a company affiliated with Chris Wright; he and his partners relaunched Chrysalis before the year was out. The reborn Chrysalis began by focusing on reissues of its catalog (both physical and digital), with only one release of new material during its first four yearsnote . The new Chrysalis has also acquired the rights to some artists who never recorded for its original incarnation, such as Steve Harley, Suzi Quatro, Everything but the Girl and De La Soul. Warner Music (through Parlophone Records) retains the catalogues of Jethro Tull, Spandau Ballet, The Proclaimers, and international rights to the Ramones.

In August 2019, Blue Raincoat (the parent company of Chrysalis) was acquired by Reservoir Media Management. In early 2020, Chrysalis announced it would once again start signing new artists, beginning with Laura Marling. In September, Chrysalis announced that Liz Phair had joined the label.

Chrysalis Records performers, past and present, with TV Tropes pages:

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+ US only