Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Capitol Records company was founded by the songwriter Johnny Mercer in 1942, with the financial help of movie producer Buddy DeSylva and the business acumen of Glenn Wallichs , (owner of Music City, at the time the biggest record store in Los Angeles, California). Capitol was the first West Coast label, competing with RCA-Victor, Columbia and Decca, all based in New York. In addition to its Los Angeles recording studio Capitol had a second studio in New York City, and on occasion sent mobile recording equipment to New Orleans, Louisiana and other cities.
The earliest recording artists included Paul Whiteman, Martha Tilton, and Ella Mae Morse. Capitol's first gold single was Morse's "Cow Cow Boogie" in 1942. By 1946 Capitol had sold 42 million records and was established as one of the Big Six record labels. The label's 1940s artists included Les Baxter, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Les Paul, Fats Domino, Peggy Lee, Les Brown, Frank Sinatra, and Nat King Cole.
In 1949 Capitol purchased the KHJ Studios on Melrose Avenue next to the Paramont Lot in Hollywood, and by the mid-1950s, Capitol had become a huge company, concentrating on popular music. The 1950s roster now included The Andrews Sisters, Jackie Gleason, Rick Nelson, Ray Anthony , Bobby Darin, Andy Griffith, Shirley Bassey, Martin Denny, The Kingston Trio, The Rat Pack, Ferrante & Teicher , The Four Freshmen, Al Martino, and Nancy Wilson.
In 1955, the English record company EMI acquired Capitol Records for $8.5 million. Soon afterward, EMI built a new studio at Hollywood and Vine to match its state-of-the-art Abbey Road Studios in London -- see the Capitol Tower below. EMI's classical Angel Records label was merged into Capitol in 1957.1960s, Capitol signed or became distributors of Badfinger, The Band, The Beach Boys, The Beatles (and solo projects by the band's members), Joe Cocker, Grand Funk Railroad, Jimi Hendrix, Kraftwerk, Tommy James & The Shondells , Steve Miller Band, People , Pink Floyd, Linda Ronstadt, and Peter Tosh, among others.
In the seventies, Capitol launched two alternative labels: EMI America and Manhattan Records . New artists included April Wine, Blondie, Burning Spear, Buzzcocks, Kim Carnes, Rosanne Cash, George Clinton, Natalie Cole, Sammy Hagar, Heart, John Hiatt, The Knack, Queen, Bonnie Raitt, The Raspberries, Minnie Riperton, Diana Ross, Bob Seger, The Specials, The Stranglers, Tavares, George Thorogood, and Wings. In 1979 Capitol was made part of the EMI Music Worldwide division.
Capitol added artists in a variety of genres during the 1980s: popular music groups and singers like Crowded House, Duran Duran (and spinoffs Arcadia and Power Station), Glass Tiger, Katrina & The Waves, Grace Jones, Kylie Minogue, Lloyd Cole, Pet Shop Boys, R.E.M., Roxette, Brian Setzer, The Smithereens, Spandau Ballet, Tina Turner, and Paul Westerberg; punk/hard rock groups such as Butthole Surfers, Concrete Blonde, Billy Idol, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers; heavy metal hair bands like Megadeth, Great White, Poison, and Queensr˙che; rap groups like the Beastie Boys, Eazy-E, N.W.A.; and individuals like Robbie Robertson, jazz artist Dave Koz, and soul singer Freddie Jackson.
Nineties acts include Blind Melon, Garth Brooks, Meredith Brooks, Coldplay, The Dandy Warhols, Dilated Peoples, Doves, Faith Evans, Everclear, Geri Halliwell, Ice Cube, Idlewild, Jane's Addiction, Jimmy Eat World, Ras Kass, Kottonmouth Kings, Ben Lee, Less Than Jake, Luscious Jackson, Tara MacLean, Marcy Playground, Mazzy Star, MC Eiht, MC Hammer, MC Ren, The Moffatts, Moist, Liz Phair, Lisa Marie Presley, Radiohead, Snoop Dogg, Spearhead, Starsailor, Supergrass, Telepopmusik, Richard Thompson, and Robbie Williams.
In 2001, EMI merged Capitol Records label with the Priority Records label. The combined label manages rap artists including Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and C-Murder, Lil Romeo, and Lil Zane . Other 2000s artists include Aslyn , Aud Der Maur , Big Moe , Borialis , Chingy, Dexter Freebish , Dirty Vegas, The F-ups , Faultline , Fischerspooner, Jonny Greenwood, Ed Harcourt, Houston , Van Hunt , Javier , Matthew Jay , Marjorie Fair , Methrone , Dave Navarro, Otep, Pru , Relient K, Roscoe, Squad Five-0 , The Star Spangles , Steriogram, Supervision, Skye Sweetnam, The Vines, Yellowcard, Young Bleed , and Don Yute .
The Capitol Tower
The Capitol Records building is one of the most distinctive landmarks in Hollywood, California. The 13-story earthquake resistant tower, designed by Welton Becket, was the world's first circular office building, and is home to several recording studios. The wide curved awnings over windows on each story and the tall spike emerging from the top of the building combine to give it the appearance of a stack of vinyl 45s on a turntable. The rectangular ground floor is a separate structure, joined to the tower after it was completed. It was built in 1956 just north of the intersection of Hollywood and Vine as the consolidated West Coast operations of Capitol Records.
The blinking light atop the tower spells out the word "Hollywood" in Morse code. In 1992 it was changed to read "Capitol 50" in honor of the label's fiftieth anniversary. It has since returned to spelling "Hollywood."
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