Imperial Records

Imperial Records is an American record label that was active from 1947 to 1964 as an independent company, from 1964 to 1970 a sublabel of Liberty Records and was revived in 2006 as a label of EMI Music majors.


Imperial Records as an independent record label

The pre- rock and roll era 1947 - 1955

Imperial was founded in 1946 by Lew Chudd in Los Angeles / California. After the record company had initially published Mexican music groups from the southwestern United States and folklore, Chudd began in August 1947, to release a record series, on the R & B artists were represented.

With a guest performance by the band of Dave Bartholomew in " Bronze Peacock Club" in Houston Chudd learned in 1949 happens to meet Bartholomew, was enthusiastic about his music and decided to let Bartholomew produce some plates with artists from New Orleans for Imperial. The first two recordings produced by Bartholomew were of the blues singer Jewel King ( Do not Marry Too Soon / 3 X 7 = 21, Imperial 5055 ) and the blues ballad singer Tommy Ridgley (Early Dawn Boogie / Blues Shrewsbury, Imperial 5054 ). The single 3 x 7 = 21 abolished in March 1950 the leap into the R & B charts and reached number 15

In New Orleans Bartholomew discovered in November 1949 a 22 -year-old stocky pianist and singer named Antoine Domino, with whom he recorded in the J & M studios of Cosimo Matassa called The Fat Man (Imperial 5058 ) on 10 December 1949, the song reached in the April 1950, the R & B charts and reached up to 6th place, although there was only three weeks in the top ten, but sold on the R & B market in the longer term so well that the single was in 1953 awarded a " Gold Record ". , and Imperial Records had its star on the R & B market: Fats Domino.

In the same year reached with Domino Every Night About This Time (Imperial 6099 ) the 5th place in the R & B charts. From then on, had " Imperial Records " with Fats Domino a permanent fixture in the top 10 of the R & B charts: 1951 Rockin ' Chair # 9-1952 Going Home # 1 and How Long # 9-1953 Goin' Down The River # 2, Please Do not Leave Me # 5, # 10 Rosemary, Something Wrong # 6; 1954 You Done Me Wrong # 10

On April 14, 1955, the single was released with the Imperial Order 5348, on the A- side of the title " Is not That A Shame " was a cover version of a song that had previously been published by Gene Autry and Glenn Miller on record. Production was orchestrated - like most other titles by Fats Domino also - by Dave Bartholomew. The song remained eleven weeks at the top of the R & B charts, reaching number 16 of the Top 100 and was the first of 59 cross-over hits for Domino on the Imperial label in the period 1955-1962, including 16 Top 20 hits.

The second success Performer Imperials in the 1950s came from the field of country music and in 1949 and 1950, several singles recorded for RCA Records: Slim Whitman. From the RCA recordings, only I'm Casting My Lasso Toward The Sky had attracted attention in the Country field. In 1951 Lew Chudd the yodeling country singer for Imperial under contract, and Whitman remained until the end of the seventies at the Imperial or the later owners of the label. His first publication Love Song Of The Waterfall ( Imperial 8134 ), which appeared in January 1952 was a country hit. Greater success was still in the same year with Indian Love Call ( Imperial 8156 ), which pushed forward to the pop charts at No. 10. . According Cattle Call, which came in at number 11 on the country charts in 1955, placements get him into the Country Top 20 again until 1965 and 1968 Its really great successes Whitman celebrate in the UK: On July 16, 1955, the song Rose Marie was the first time in quoted the British charts, it should be the most successful titles of 1955 are in the UK. Already on July 20, 1955, the song reached the top spot and stayed there for eleven weeks until October 8, 1955 between July 1955 and June 1957 were placed seven Singles from Whitman in the UK in the top 20, as the last title I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen, who was the only song to Indian Love Call, with the Whitman made ​​it into the Hot 100 and also because only a modest Place 93 Despite the lack of success from 1957 to 1969 Imperial published per year, at least three singles from Whitman.

The most famous and successful performer on Imperial before 1955 were next to Fats Domino and Slim Whitman especially Dave Bartholomew, Smiley Lewis, Erroll Garner, T -Bone Walker, Big Joe Turner, Guitar Slim and The Spiders.

In the first half of the 1950s succeeded Imperial to establish himself on the R & B market: the 30 most successful R & B albums of the year 1954 was an Imperial Single, Did not Want To Do It by the doo-wop group The Spiders, represented. In 1955, it managed three singles under the top 25 R & B hits of the year: Fats Domino Is not That A Shame and All By Myself and I Hear You Knockin ' by Smiley Lewis. In 1956, Imperial seven plates, by the way all recordings by Fats Domino, of the fifty most successful R & B hits of the year and was next to Atlantic Records, the company managed eight placements, the most important independent label on the R & B market.

On the Country market a rather negative trend is for Imperial observable: arrived in 1954 two recordings by Slim Whitman among the 30 most successful country albums of the year, so Imperial in 1956 was only represented by a recording, tellingly titled Blueberry Hill by Fats Domino.

Already in the first half of the 1950s pointed to the central problem of the company Imperial Records: In addition to an unusually high number of releases of singles, there was an extremely high economic dependence of the company on the commercial success of a few artists.

Era of Rock ' n ' Roll 1956 - 1963

In the 1950s, the label best known for its rhythm and blues, rockabilly, and early rock 'n ' roll shots was known. During this time, among other things, Ricky Nelson, Bob Luman, Lew Williams, Dennis Herrold, Fats Domino, Charline Arthur and Laura Lee Perkins were under contract. Between 1955 and 1957 some jazz musicians at Imperial took on, as Charlie Mariano, Sonny Criss and Warne Marsh. The producers are busy Imperial Dave Bartholomew, Cosimo Matassa and Earl King. In 1960, the Aladdin Records, and three years later bought Minit Records. In England, the boards of London Records were expelled. After the departure of Fats Domino and Ricky Nelson to other labels, but lost Imperial strong economic strength.

Imperial Records as a sub - label

Chudd sold 1964 Imperial to the company Avnet, who had already bought 1963 Liberty Records. The new owners took Imperial to a sub - label of Liberty, the label on the back has seen success with artists such as Cher, Johnny Rivers or Irma Thomas. Another sub- label 1966 " Sunset " was founded.

1968 sold Avnet " Liberty Imperial " to the insurance company " Transamerica Corporation ", which was already owned by United Artists Records in 1970 summarized the label under the umbrella of United Artists for a company. 1971 record releases were set under the label " Imperial".

In February 1979, United Artists was acquired by the record company EMI, reissued Imperials catalog from 2006 and revived the label.