|Albums The Adventures of Captain Sky, Blues Attack|
AVI Records was an independent record label established in 1968. It released music from numerous genres, and was sufficiently successful with its disco recordings that it began doing its own distribution in 1977. The label was a unit of American Variety International.
AVI Records began in 1968. It was formed by Seymour Heller, Ed Cobb and Ray Harris. American Variety International was subsequently incorporated in 1972, and Harris became president of the Record division. One of the Los Angeles–based label's earliest signings was Liberace, who was signed to the label through his manager Heller, and stayed with the company for more than 20 years.
The label was initially distributed on a case-by-case basis, usually through either Capitol, MGM Records, Dot Records or Tower. Harris started the label's disco initiative after attending a Midem convention and recognizing the selling potential of mixes and extended cuts. Additionally influenced by Donna Summer, Barry White and Van McCoy, AVI produced an album by studio group El Coco, passing off the product as European. AVI had laid the foundation for their own distribution in 1976, and activated this network in 1977 after having found success in the disco and R&B genres, particularly with El CoCo, while becoming the first label to produce custom jackets for their 12-inch singles. In February 1978, the label hired Rick Gianatos as a special consultant for their disco output, and he was later promoted to general A&R director. One of his initiatives was to court disco DJs by introducing expanded grooves, visual cues at key points in the recording accomplished by increasing the width between grooves. They were the second label after Motown to do this. Dubbed "Q-Mix", the method coincided with an increase in price designed to raise profit margins. After finding success in the disco field, AVI tried their hand in another 1970s musical phenomenon, punk.
AVI Records agreed to acquire Nashboro Records in 1979. As a result, AVI made a concerted effort to expand their gospel efforts by releasing new material as well as reissuing classic Nashboro recordings. By the mid-1990s, the label had moved to Santa Monica, California and was largely limited to releasing previously recorded material.