American, out of New York City.  The Elektra label was started by Jac Holzman in 1950.  At first it concentrated upon the fields of Folk, Ethnic music, Jazz and Gospel; later on it expanded into Blues. Pop and Rock.   Judy Collins was an important signing for Elektra, in 1961); other notable signings followed: the mid '60s saw the advent of Love, and the Doors, while Carly Simon arrived in 1970.  The Nonesuch offshoot was launched in 1963 as a budget-priced outlet for classical music; it proved surprisingly successful.  Elektra was sold to the Kinney Corporation in 1970 and became the 'E' of the big WEA group when Kinney was renamed Warner Communications in 1971.  Holzman retired in 1973, but despite the loss of its founder, the label continued to flourish, and artists such as Bread, Television and the Cars kept it in the charts throughout the '70s and early 80s.  Elektra was combined with Asylum in August 1973; it is still going today, as part of Time-Warner.
In Britain, the Elektra label came in the scene in 1965.   Its first single had a striking red and white label (1) and was pressed by Record Imports Ltd; for the second release, Phil Ochs's, 'I Ain't Marching Any More', the design was changed completely for the second single,and the colours were altered to yellow and black, though numbering remained in the EKSN45-000s (2) - thanks to Robert Bowes for that scan.  For the third and fourth releases the red-and-white label returned.  From May 1967 a new, plainer, design was adopted; these labels were either orange with black lettering (3) or green label with silver lettering (4); the numbers dropped the hyphen at this point and became just EKSN-45000.  In August of that year Polydor took over manufacture and distribution, and that company's name appeared at the bottom of the label (5).  In November 1968 the black printing became silver (6).  Around October 1969 the design altered slightly and the colours changed again, this time to red with black and white printing (7).  Partway through the '70s Polydor changed to an all-numerical numbering system, and Elektras's EKSN-45000s became 2102-000s (8).  Some later pressings of Judy Collins', 'Amazing Grace' (2101-010) were injection-moulded (9); Polydor retained the rights to that single after Elektra switched the pressing of its new products to CBS and its distribution to Kinney, which happened in January 1971.   After the move Elektra singles were given a new 'caterpillar' label and an EK-45700 numerical series (10) - this scan appears by courtesy of Julian Hardstone.  Promos from this period resemble the Pye style promos of that time, apart from the absence of the 'ADVANCE PROMOTION COPY' lettering above the 'A' (14).  When Kinney entered a joint manufacturing and distribution arrangement with CBS, in July 1971, the EK-45700 numbering was replaced by a K-12000 one, though the design remained the same (11); the change brought Elektra into line with the other members of the Kinney group, which all had numbers in various K-00000 series.
Following a reorganization of WEA, in which the three main labels were given autonomy, Elektra signed a licensing agreement with EMI and joined Asylum there, the two companies having been linked together as Elektra Asylum.  The label gained a reference to EMI Records at the left-hand side of the outer circle of declarations, and perforated copies have the narrower perforations typical of EMI at this time (12).  Promos from this period have the usual EMI-style promo appearance (15).  The reorganizational split was reversed before long, and when the licensing agreement with EMI came to an end, at the end of 1975, both Elektra and Asylum moved across to join their WEA stable-mates; their products were now manufactured and distributed by CBS.  WEA was thinking big, however, and it started its own distribution network, which was fully operational by July 1977; it handled all the company's labels, though CBS continued to be responsible for the pressing.  A small 'W' and the equally miniscule legend 'A Warner Communications Company' appeared on the right hand side of the label (13) at the time of the changeover.  From that point the label design, numbering and distribution seem to have settled down for the rest of the '70s, though at the end of the decade, Asylum records started sharing Elektra's K-12000 numerical series.  The manufacturing agreement with CBS appears to have expired at the end of 1978, from which point WEA took over the manufacture of its own records.  As far as company sleeves are concerned, Elektra had its own orange one for most of the Seventies.  In 1971 and early '72, when Kinney was doing its own distribution, Elektra sleeves referred to Kinney at the bottom (16); afterwards the 'Kinney' name was replaced by WEA (18).  After the change of distributor to EMI sleeves referring to WEA were initially given gold 'Re-Distributed by EMI Records' stickers (17).  Around 1978 WEA adopted a common sleeve for all its labels and Elektra singles began to appear in those (19).  The design of the common sleeve changed c.1979 (20).  A 'Treasured Tracks' series of Elektra and Asylum singles was issued in the Autumn of 1976, in a special sleeve (21).   The discography below only covers the 1970s, and, as usual, it is peppered with holes.   Quite a number of these holes are caused by the records with those numbers only being issued overseas.

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Copyright 2006 Robert Lyons.