Philips Records

Origin: Netherlands

Genre: Popular, rock, etc

Founded by: Koninklijke Philips B.V.


Web Site:  Official Decca & Philips Classics Website

Other Links: See above:


Philips Records is a record label that was founded by the Dutch electronics company Philips. In 1946 Philips acquired the company which pressed records for British Decca’s Dutch outlet in Amsterdam.

The record label was started by “Philips Phonographische Industrie” (PPI) in June 1950 when it began issuing classical recordings. Recordings were also made with popular artists of various nationalities and with classical artists from Germany, France and the Netherlands. Launched under the slogan “Records Of The Century” (referring to Philips Industries’ UK Head Office at Century House, W1), the first releases in Britain appeared at the beginning of January 1953 on 10″ 78rpm discs, with LPs appearing in July 1954. Philips also distributed recordings made by the US Columbia Records in the UK and on the European continent. After the separation of the English Columbia label (owned by EMI) and American Columbia, Philips also started distributing original Columbia recordings on the Philips label in the United Kingdom.

The first batch of eight singles releases in 1953 included British artists such as Gilbert Harding, Flanagan & Allen and Gracie Fields, followed by American Columbia recording artists Jo Stafford, Frankie Laine and Johnnie Ray. The first single on the label to chart was Frankie Laine’s “I Believe”, which reached the no. 1 chart position in the UK that April. Many of the first British recordings on the label were produced by Norman Newell until John Franz was appointed as A&R manager in 1954.

Then in 1958 Philips created a subsidiary label, Fontana Records, which meant that American-Columbia recordings were being issued on both the Philips and Fontana labels. This arrangement lasted until April 1962 when, under pressure from Columbia in America, Philips then created a third label for them, CBS Records (it could not name the label Columbia as the copyright for that name had long been owned by EMI). In late 1964, under the stewardship of U.S. President of Columbia Records Goddard Lieberson, CBS Records formed its own international operations, adopting the name of its then parent CBS. CBS Records set up their UK operation in Theobalds Road in Holborn. Singles and albums on the Philips and Fontana labels by Columbia-owned product were subsequently withdrawn.

In 1962, Philips Records and Deutsche Grammophon formed the Grammophon-Philips Group joint venture (GPG), which later became PolyGram in 1972. UK pressing were manufactured at the company’s large factory based at Walthamstow in N.E. London.

In 1961, after Philips lost its North American distribution deal with Columbia Records, it entered an exchange agreement with Mercury Records. A year later, Philips’ US affiliate Consolidated Electronics Industries Corp. (a.k.a. Conelco), bought Mercury and its subsidiary labels, such as Smash. Philips classical, jazz and pop records were marketed by Mercury in the US under the Philips label. The Mercury Living Presence team also made classical recordings for Philips, in July 1961. These records, made in Walthamstow Town Hall near London, included: Liszt piano concertos by Sviatoslav Richter and the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kiril Kondrashin; two albums of symphonic “bon-bons” by the London Symphony Orchestra and Charles Mackerras released as “Kaleidoscope”; “Russian Song Recital” by Galina Vishnevskaya and Mstislav Rostropovich; and Beethoven sonata op. 69 for cello and piano by Richter and Rostropovich. The Richter Liszt album was recorded on 3-track 35mm magnetic film and was reissued on CD from a remaster made from the film by original producer Wilma Cozart Fine, (wife of the late recording pioneer Bob) as part of the Philips Solo series.

Classical groups that Philips heavily recorded included the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Beaux Arts Trio, and the Quartetto Italiano. Violinist Arthur Grumiaux and the pianist Claudio Arrau were under contract to Philips. Symphony orchestras under contract, including the LSO, were under the command of prestigious young conductors such as Colin Davis and Bernard Haitink.

From 1961 until the late 1980s, Philips Records (USA) issued many classical titles in US-specific packaging, initially in the same glossy-laminated covers as Mercury Records. The records were pressed at Mercury’s plant in Richmond, Indiana, and mastered in New York by George Piros at Fine Recording, using 2-track and mono master tapes provided by Philips. These releases were the PHS 900 xxx series for stereo and the 500 xxx series for mono. Clair Van Ausdal in Mercury’s New York office oversaw the Philips classical US releases through the mid-1960s.

Philips also launched an eponymous jazz label in the US, releasing both imported European Philips recordings and making new American recordings of Gerry Mulligan, Dizzy Gillespie and Woody Herman, among others. These records were made through Mercury’s existing jazz operations and produced by Jack Tracy and others.

In addition to jazz and classical music, Philips also became a major player in the world of rock and pop music in the late 1950s till late 1970s. In the UK, Philips developed a strong popular music roster, signing acts like Marty Wilde, Roy Castle, Anne Shelton, the Four Pennies, Dusty Springfield, and the Walker Brothers. The American pop label was launched in 1962 starting with the R&B single “Gee Baby” by Ben & Bea and showed a comfortability with folk-country, releasing “Makes You Wanna Sigh” by Ross Legacy in 1969. It signed the Four Seasons in 1964. It also played a major part in promoting the garage rock genre and the psychedelic rock genre in the mid to late 60s, their most successful signing being Blue Cheer.

In the UK during the 1960s and 1970s, Philips turned its attention more to the growing MOR market with artists like Lena Zavaroni, Peters and Lee, Nana Mouskouri and Demis Roussos, as well as issuing novelty records by media personalities like Ed Stewart, Bruce Forsyth, Dave Allen and Chris Hill. In 1972, Philips, Fontana, Mercury Records, and the newly formed Vertigo Records were amalgamated into a new company called Phonogram Records. In Europe, however, Philips was used on a major basis and it became the outlet for Sire Records in America and distributed a number of punk and new wave bands like Talking Heads, the Ramones, and Radio Birdman, who were signed from Australia. It also released some disco records by Donna Summer and the Village People, as their home label Casablanca Records was not cleared for use in all countries around the world. Another important American label signing for the UK was Avco Records, which provided Phonogram with one of their best-selling U.S. acts, the Stylistics. By late 1979, Phonogram signed Dire Straits to their label. The band sold huge amount of records all over Europe and were chosen to promote the initial release of CDs in 1985, with a nationwide road tour in association with Philips/Sony Industries.

By 1980, Phonogram and Polydor Records decided to merge to become PolyGram Records. Under the new company, PolyGram decided to discontinue Philips as a pop and rock label in the UK and throughout much of Europe, though it was still frequently issued records in France and South East Asia by Chinese and Hong Kong pop artists. The majority of PolyGram’s rock and pop music signings went to Mercury, and Polydor in the UK and Europe, though the label was used sparingly in America. Philips became part of PolyGram Classics as a classical music label along with Decca Records and Deutsche Grammophon.

From the early 1970s, Philips classical records were not being produced in the US any more; rather they were made in the Netherlands and sold as imports in the American market. Philips reissued a group of Mercury Living Presence titles as “Mercury Golden Imports”, with manufacture in the Netherlands and masters cut from 2-track production tapes, as opposed to the original-issue method of mixing stereo LPs directly from the edited 3-track master tapes and films.

In the 1980s Philips Classics Records was formed to distribute its classical artists, although classical recordings have also been issued on the regular Philips label. In the US, Philips eventually handled distribution and sales for Philips, Mercury, British Decca (sold under the London label in the US) and Deutsche Grammophon.

Compact disc era

In 1983, Philips became the first record label to issue compact discs, using digital recordings that went as far back as 1978. (The first digital recordings, however, were actually remastered versions of vintage recordings by the legendary tenor Enrico Caruso, using the Soundstream process developed in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1975-76. RCA Victor released vinyl versions of these reprocessed, historic recordings. Philips was among the record labels to use the Soundstream process for modern digital recordings.)

Philips and its subsidiaries eventually re-issued many of its pre-digital stereo and mono recordings on compact disc. Philips and DuPont partnered on a CD manufacturing plant in North Carolina called PDO. By the mid-1990s, Polygram Classics handled the classical labels (Philips, Mercury, Decca, Deutsche Grammophon) and Verve Music Group handled the jazz back catalogue (from Verve, Mercury, etc.) and new jazz releases. Mercury continues to manage the Philips pop back catalogue to this day.

Philips Records has been part of Universal Music since 1998, the name continuing to be licensed from the label’s former parent company. In 1999, Philips Classics was absorbed into the Decca Music Group, and Philips recording and mastering operations in the Netherlands were shut down. Former employees bought the Philips Recording Center in Baarn, Netherlands, and formed Polyhymnia International (a recording and mastering company) and Pentatone Records (which specializes in SACD releases).

Many of the Philips classical recordings have been reissued on the Eloquence label. Universal also released a “Philips 50” series marking the 50th anniversary of Philips Records in the early 2000s; some of those CD’s are still in print. Pentatone has released Philips Quadraphonic sound recordings from the early and mid-1970s in 4-channel SACD format, as their RQR Series.

Philips’ classical catalog is issued on CD under the headings Digital Classics, Legendary Classics and Silver Line Classics.


Connoisseur Collection

The “Philips Connoisseur Collection” issued world music and other genres.
PCC-603: Soeur Sourire – The Singing Nun
PCC-606: Missa Luba (a version of the Latin Mass based on traditional Congolese songs).
PCC-616: Michel Legrand – The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies De Cherbourg)
PCC-619: Los Fronterizos Chorus And Orchestra – Misa Criolla
PCC-608: Edith Piaf – Adieu, Little Sparrow
PCC-620: Jacques Brel: The Poetic World of Jacques Brel
PCC-621: Sarah Gorby – Songs Of The Ghetto
PCC-623: Misa Flamenca · Misa Mozarabe
PCC-633: Yves Montand – Extraordinaire!
PCC-634: Jacques Brel: If you go away

Popular music artists

Nike Ardilla – South East Asia (1990-1993, moved to Sony Music Entertainment from 1994–present) made in Malaysia also known as “Philips Record (Malaysia)
Andy Lau – Hong Kong (1995-1997, now moved to Sony Music Entertainment from 1998–present)
Aaron Kwok – Hong Kong (1996-1999, now moved to Sony Music Entertainment from 2000–present)
Dave Wong – Republic of China (1996-1998, now moved to Sony Music Entertainment from 1999-2009)
Regina – Indonesian Idol Season 7 (2012–present, made in Malaysia also known as “Philips Record (Malaysia) Sendirian Berhad”)
Sean – Indonesian Idol Season 7 (2012–present, made in Malaysia also known as “Philips Record (Malaysia) Sendirian Berhad”)
Yoda – Indonesian Idol Season 7 (2012–present, made in Malaysia also known as “Philips Record (Malaysia) Sendirian Berhad”)
Dion – Indonesian Idol Season 7 (2012–present, made in Malaysia also known as “Philips Record (Malaysia) Sendirian Berhad”)
Rosa – Indonesian Idol Season 7 (2012–present, made in Malaysia also known as “Philips Record (Malaysia) Sendirian Berhad”)
Dera – Indonesian Idol Season 7 (2012–present, made in Malaysia also known as “Philips Record (Malaysia) Sendirian Berhad”)
Belinda – Indonesian Idol Season 7 (2012–present, made in Malaysia also known as “Philips Record (Malaysia) Sendirian Berhad”)
Khanza – Indonesian Idol Season 7 (2012–present, made in Malaysia also known as “Philips Record (Malaysia) Sendirian Berhad”)
Febri – Indonesian Idol Season 7 (2012–present, made in Malaysia also known as “Philips Record (Malaysia) Sendirian Berhad”)
Kamahl – Australia
Galapagous Duck – Australia
Radio Birdman – Australia – European release only
Mr. George – Australia
Hush – Australia (debut single release only)
Silver Studs – Australia
Demis Roussos – Greece
Nana Mouskouri – Greece
Guys ‘n’ Dolls – England
The Missing Links – Australia
Janice Slater – Australia
Elton John (US singles from 1968 to 1970)
Mud – England (1969, but also on Philips in Europe from 1975 to 1977)
Thunderthighs – England
5,000 Volts – England
Lena Zavaroni – Scotland
Maria Bethânia – Brazil
Blue Cheer – San Francisco, California, United States
Teresa Brewer – Toledo, Ohio, United States
Chico Buarque – Brazil
Cluster – Berlin, Germany
Ray Conniff (licensed from US Columbia Records)
Gal Costa – Brazil
Teresa De Sio – Cava de’ Tirreni, Italy
Val Doonican – Ireland[5]
Ekseption – Netherlands
Eloy (debut album only)
The Four Pennies – various, England
The Four Seasons – Newark, New Jersey
Gong – France
Jacques Brel – France
Johnny Hallyday – Paris, France (from 1961 until 2005)
Coco Briaval[6] – Paris, France (1966)
Wes Harrison –
Bobby Hebb – Nashville, Tennessee, United States
Johnny Horton – (licensed from US Columbia Records)
Brian Hyland – Queens, New York
Jim and Jean – New York City, United States (1965)
Billy Joel –
Yoshie Kasiwabara – Japan
The Kaye Sisters – England
Kraftwerk – Düsseldorf, Germany
Frankie Laine (licensed from US Columbia Records)
Vicky Leandros – Greece/Germany
Los Paraguayos – Paraguay
Luv’ – Netherlands
Harvey Mandel – Detroit, Michigan
Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – European release only
Susan Maughan – Consett, County Durham
Paul Mauriat – Marseille, France
Roger Miller – Nashville, Tennessee
Guy Mitchell (licensed from US Columbia)
Mouth & MacNeal – Netherlands
Osamu Minagawa – Japan
New Vaudeville Band – England
Peters and Lee – England
Ajda Pekkan – Turkey
Johnnie Ray (licensed from US Columbia)
Richard and the Young Lions – Newark, New Jersey, United States
Serendipity Singers – Boulder, Colorado, United States
Nina Simone – Tryon, North Carolina, United States
The Singing Nun – Fichermont, Belgium
Dusty Springfield – West Hampstead, London
The Springfields – London
The Swingle Singers – Paris, France
Wally Tax – Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Tempters – Japan
Frankie Vaughan – Liverpool, England
Caetano Veloso – Brazil
The Walker Brothers – Los Angeles, California, United States; based in London from Feb. 1965
John Walker – New York, United States
Scott Walker – Hamilton, Ohio, United States
David Whitfield – England
Marty Wilde – Greenwich, South London
Terry Wogan – Limerick, Éire