UK: Independent record company, US: defunct; merged into Universal Music Group
|Distributor(s)||Capitol Records (US catalog)
Kobalt Label Services
(Non-US artist catalog)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
Chrysalis Records is a British record label that was created in 1968. The name was both a reference to the pupal stage of a butterfly and a combination of its founders' names, Chris Wright and Terry Ellis. It started as the Ellis-Wright Agency.
In an interview for Jethro Tull's video 20 Years of Jethro Tull, released in 1988, Wright states "Chrysalis Records might have come into being anyway, you never know what might have happened, but Chrysalis Records really came into being because Jethro Tull couldn't get a record deal and MGM couldn't even get their name right on the record". This was after the single Sunshine Day/Aeroplane was incorrectly credited to Jethro Toe.
Chrysalis entered into a licensing deal with Chris Blackwell's Island Records for distribution, based on the success of bands like Jethro Tull, Ten Years After and Procol Harum, which were promoted by the label. Jethro Tull signed with Reprise Records in the United States, which led Chrysalis to an American distribution deal with Reprise's parent company, Warner Bros. Records. This lasted from 1972 until U.S. Chrysalis switched to independent distribution in 1976. PolyGram handled international distribution and Festival Records covered Australia and New Zealand. Towards the end of the 1970s, the label began to extend its range of music, incorporating acts from the Punk Rock scene such as Generation X. The Chrysalis offshoot 2 Tone Records brought in bands such as The Specials and The Selecter.
In 1979 Chrysalis bought and distributed U.S. folk label Takoma Records, naming manager/producer Denny Bruce as president, who signed The Fabulous Thunderbirds and T-Bone Burnett. Jon Monday who was Vice President of Takoma Records prior to the acquisition continued as General Manager, later becoming Director of Marketing of Chrysalis Records.
Chrysalis made history in 1979 by creating the first "music video album", a videocassette featuring a corresponding music video for each song on Blondie's Eat to the Beat album (released at the same time as the LP).
In the 1980s, Chrysalis was at the forefront of the British New Romantic movement with bands such as Gen X, Ultravox, and Spandau Ballet. The 1980s proved to be the most successful time for the label, whose roster then included Billy Idol, Pat Benatar, Blondie and Huey Lewis and the News. Chrysalis also distributed Animal Records, the short-lived label founded by Blondie guitarist Chris Stein. In 1983 Daniel Glass moved to Chrysalis as Director of New Music Marketing, advancing later to Senior Vice President.
The Chrysalis Records label was sold 50% in 1990, then the remaining half in 1991 to EMI with catalogue and artists such as Starsailor being shifted to the main EMI imprints. Chrysalis Records folded into EMI subsidiary and flagship label EMI Records in 2005.
The British Chrysalis catalogue (minus Robbie Williams, whose catalogue is currently distributed by Island Records) was put up for sale by Universal Music Group after its acquisition of EMI. In July 2013, Warner Music Group completed acquisition of Parlophone Label Group, which includes the British Chrysalis catalogue, for £487 million. When Universal Music Group purchased EMI in 2012 ownership of Chrysalis passed to UMG. In 2013 Warner Music Group acquired part of EMI from UMG, including the original UK Chrysalis Records Ltd with its catalogue of 130 artists. The American Chrysalis catalogue, including artists such as Blondie, Huey Lewis and The News, and Pat Benatar, was merged into EMI Records Group America, which was then merged into former sister label Capitol Records, and is currently distributed by that label.
In May 2016, Blue Raincoat Music purchased Chrysalis Records Ltd and most of the artist catalogue from Warner Music Group. Blue Raincoat founders Jeremy Lascelles and Robin Millar brought in Robert Devereux and Chrysalis co-founder Chris Wright to augment the team. The deal reunited Wright, who was named non-executive chairman of Chrysalis, with the company he set up 47 years previously. Besides its European catalogue, the Chrysalis deal also included the rights to Everything but the Girl, Suzi Quatro, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, Athlete, Fun Lovin' Criminals,Naked Eyes, Grant Lee Buffalo, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Lucinda Williams, Dario G, and Toumani Diabaté.