Suvarna Garge (Editor)

ABC Records

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Status  Defunct
Country of origin  US
Founded  1955
Genre  Various
Location  New York City
Defunct  1979
ABC Records

Parent company  ABC Leisure Group (American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres, Inc. /American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.)
Distributor(s)  Self-distributed (US), EMI (international), Anchor Records (UK), Sparton Records (Canada), Polydor Records (Canada), GRT (Canada)
Artists  Ray Charles, BB King, Paul Anka, Steely Dan, Quincy Jones
Albums  Modern Sounds in Country a, Aja, Can't Buy a Thrill, Countdown to Ecstasy, The Royal Scam

ABC Records was an American record label founded in New York City in 1955. It originated as the main popular music label operated by the Am-Par Record Corporation. Am-Par also created the Impulse! jazz label in 1961. It acquired many labels before ABC was sold to MCA Records in 1979. ABC produced music in a variety of genres: pop, rock, jazz, country, rhythm and blues, soundtrack, gospel, and polka.



American Broadcasting-Paramount Theaters (AB-PT) is an antecedent of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). It evolved from federal antitrust actions taken against the movie studios and broadcasting companies in the 1940s and early 1950s.

In 1943 the Federal Communications Commission took action against anti-competitive practices, one of which forced the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) to sell the Blue Network, the sister network of NBC Red Network. Blue was purchased by the businessman Edward J. Noble, and he changed its name to the American Broadcasting Company in 1946. In 1953 ABC merged with United Paramount Theatres, the divested former exhibition/cinema division of Paramount Pictures. The newly merged corporation was chaired by former Paramount Theaters executive Leonard Goldenson and was originally headquartered at 1501 Broadway in New York City, above the Paramount Theater in Times Square.

ABC-Paramount Records

American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres formed a records division in 1955 with Samuel H. Clark as its first president. The division was incorporated on 000000001955-06-14-0000June 14, 1955 as Am-Par Record Corporation.

In addition to producing records, ABC licensed masters from independent record producers, and purchased regionally released records for national distribution. Am-Par Record Corporation was changed to ABC-Paramount Records, Inc. on 000000001961-12-07-0000December 7, 1961.

In 1965, Clark was promoted to vice-president in charge of AB-PT's non-broadcast operations. National sales manager Larry Newton was named ABC-Paramount president.In April 1966, Dunhill Records was purchased under Newton.

ABC Records

The label was renamed ABC Records in June 1966. In 1970, ABC and Dunhill moved its headquarters to Los Angeles. Newton was promoted to vice-president in charge of ABC Pictures. Dunhill co-owner Jay Lasker was named president and referred to the combined operations as ABC/Dunhill. At that time ABC had another five labels: Westminster, Command, Probe, Impulse, and Bluesway.

By May 1972, ABC formed the ABC Leisure Group, which included ABC Records, Anchor Records, and ABC Records and Tape Sales, plus a new retail record-store division. Lasker left ABC to join Ariola America Records in 1975. He was succeeded by Jerry Rubinstein, who served as company head until 1977. In November 1972, ABC bought country music company Cartwheel Records.

In 1974, ABC switched British distribution from EMI to the EMI-distributed Anchor Records, allowing ABC recordings to be issued on the ABC label in the UK, and Anchor records to be distributed by ABC on the Anchor label in the US.

As a cost-cutting measure, ABC Records discarded many master tapes in the 1970s to save storage space. When these recordings were reissued on compact disc in the 1980s, CD versions were often taken from master copies which had less than optimal sound quality. The company's last president, Steve Diener, was named president in 1977 after serving as head of ABC Records' international division. Because of financial problems, ABC Records was sold on January 31, 1979 to MCA Records, which discontinued the ABC label on March 5, 1979. The bestselling albums in the ABC catalog were reissued on MCA.


ABC Records sub-labeled Apt Records to release singles. In the early 1960s, it bought Westminster Records, a classical music label. For jazz it created Impulse! Records. Led by Creed Taylor and Bob Thiele, Impulse! developed a reputation for innovative releases, including albums by John Coltrane from 1961 until his death in 1967. ABC created Bluesway Records for blues music. Tangerine was formed by Ray Charles to produce his albums and artists he produced.

ABC Records bought Dunhill in the summer of 1967, forming ABC Dunhill Records. It also bought Don Robey's record labels, including Duke Records, Peacock, Back Beat, and Song Bird on May 23, 1973.

In 1974 ABC bought Famous Music from Gulf and Western, the parent company of Paramount. This acquisition gave ABC Dot Records, Blue Thumb), and a distribution deal with Sire, which released the first album the punk band the Ramones.

ABC purchased all labels from Enoch Light in October, 1959. It acquired Audition Records, Command Performance Records, Colortone Records, and Waldorf Music Hall Records.

In 1979, ABC was acquired by MCA Records for $30 million. It operated briefly as a seprate division. MCA was bought by the Universal Music Group, which currently distributes recordings for ABC's sister company, Disney Music Group, worldwide except for Russia and Japan.

This is not the same ABC Records that operates in Australia, which is run by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, although the Ampar label was distributed in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s, first by W&G Records (1955–60) and then by Festival. Nor is it the sub-label of Voiceprint Records.

ABC-Paramount/ABC Records label variations

  • 1955–1961: Black label, "ABC-PARAMOUNT" around top perimeter of label (in yellow, red, and blue - repeating in that sequence - letters for singles and all white letters for albums) and logo consisting of color spectrum Möbius strip and white jagged line (representing a sound wave). Bottom perimeter of label reads: "A PRODUCT OF AM-PAR RECORD CORP."
  • 1961–1966: Same label as above, but disclaimer at bottom of label now reads: "A PRODUCT OF ABC-PARAMOUNT RECORDS, INC."
  • 1966–1967: Label name now shortened to ABC Records. Black label with large white circle at top with "abc" in black letters and the "Möbius strip and sound wave" logo under the letters. This variant was used only for singles.
  • 1967–1974: Black label with small white "abc" circle logo in color spectrum box at top (In conjunction with this label, a brief interim label was used from 1973 to 1974 consisting of three children's blocks spelling out ABC and one block with the "abc" logo in a white triangle at the top).
  • 1974–1978: Yellow, orange, red and purple "sunburst" label with "abc Records" (black "abc" circle logo) between two black lines at top (Note: The other ABC labels would also adopt this label, such as Dunhill, Dot, Blue Thumb with its logo next to the "abc" logo, and Backbeat and Impulse with a green background rather than a yellow background, but the circles were the same.)
  • 1978–1979: Same multi-colored label as above, but with 1/8 note featuring "abc" inside the bottom of the note. Late pressings show "Mfg. & Dist. by MCA Distributing Corp..." at the bottom perimeter, just before the ABC label was discontinued and its artists transferred to MCA.
  • Artists associated with ABC Records and its labels

  • The Atlantics
  • Management of ABC Records catalogue today

    The catalogues of ABC Records and its sub-labels are now controlled by Universal Music Group. UMG also distributes Disney Music Group, which is owned by ABC's current parent, The Walt Disney Company), with the following exceptions:

  • The Jim Croce catalog is controlled by the Croce estate and the Disney Music Group, and is distributed by UMG.
  • The Ray Charles catalog is controlled by the Charles estate and is currently licensed to Concord Records. Concord's recordings are distributed by UMG.
  • The Amazing Rhythm Aces catalog is controlled by Sony Music Entertainment.
  • The recordings that former 5th Dimension members Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. made for ABC are controlled by McCoo and Davis through their company, BilMar Productions, and are distributed by Real Gone Music.
  • Lawrence Welk acquired his Dot recordings (prior to ABC acquiring the label) which were reissued on his Ranwood Records label.
  • The following labels manage different genres:

  • Pop, rock, R&B: Geffen
  • Jazz: Impulse!, Impulse!/Verve
  • Country: Universal Music Group Nashville
  • Classical: Deutsche Grammophon
  • Musical theater: Decca Broadway
  • These labels also produce releases from labels absorbed into ABC. For example, MCA Nashville's catalogue includes country releases on Dot Records. Deutsche Grammophon's catalogue includes the Westminster Records catalogue, as well as soundtracks released by Dot and Paramount Records.


    ABC Records Wikipedia