EMI: Timeline of a music giant

The Columbia Graphophone Company and The Gramophone Company, owner of the His Master’s Voice record label, merge to form Electric and Musical Industries, or EMI. In the same year, EMI opens the world’s first custom-built recording studio at Abbey Road in London

EMI buys Capitol Records, one of the largest US record companies and home to Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Dean Martin

EMI signs an unknown band called The Beatles and releases its first single, Love Me Do, which reaches number 17 in the UK charts. The following year the band has three chart-toppers as Beatlemania takes off

EMI releases Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

EMI, known then as Thorn EMI after a merger with Thorn Electrical Industries, buys Virgin Records from Richard Branson

Thorn EMI shareholders vote in favour of de-merger proposals due to increasingly divergent business models. The resultant media company is called EMI Group

EMI divests itself completely of HMV. In the same year it agrees a multi-album deal with Robbie Williams reportedly worth over £80m, the biggest recording contract in British music history

Terra Firma Capital Partners buys EMI for £4.2bn in a hugely leveraged deal. It has since been called one of the worst deals in British corporate history

Citigroup takes 100% ownership of EMI Group, writing off £2.2bn of debt. The group is put up for sale and in November Universal Music is named as the buyer of EMI’s recorded music operations for £1.2bn. The deal is referred to the EU over competition concerns

The EU rules that Universal must sell a third of EMI, including most of its operations in the UK and Europe. The operations up for sale, including Parlophone, form a new business unit called Parlophone Label Group

The newly formed Parlophone Label Group is headed globally by former EMI executive David Kassler and incorporates other labels like Chrysalis and Virgin Classics as well as EMI operations in 10 other European countries including France, Spain and Sweden. The group is currently presenting to bidders, with the sale process due to complete by the middle of the year


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