Founded in March 1931, EMI or Electric and Musical Industries was the amalgamation of five existing record companies, including Parlophone.
The British company has enjoyed high levels of success over the years, signing many top artists who have dominated the music industry and who have shaped their particular genres into what we hear in today’s music.
In 1955, EMI bought Capitol Records for $8.5 million; acquiring many legendary artists such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, Gene Vincent and Dean Martin. Between 1955 and 1961, Sinatra had 17 US hit albums and 14 UK chart albums, adding to the strength of EMI’s impressive global presence.
Sinatra made no secret of the fact he disliked the rising genre of rock ‘n’ roll in the ’50s, describing it as “degenerate and ugly”. His genre has been described as easy listening, vocal jazz and swing, with many of his most famous hits coming from the golden era of Hollywood movies.
After signing for EMI in 1962, the Beatles’ debut disc, Love Me Do was released in October. It charted in the UK and US and just one year later, in November 1962, the Beatles were receiving silver discs for extraordinary record sales of Twist and Shout and Please Please Me.
Their next three singles – She Loves You, From Me To You and I Want To Hold Your Hand – all went to number one. In total, the Beatles had 17 UK number ones during their eight-year career with EMI, mostly recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios. In fact, during 1963, EMI releases by various artists accounted for 15 of the 19 number one UK chart singles.
An icon of the music industry for more than four decades, the legendary David Bowie released his first album, Let’s Dance, on EMI. The single of the same name reached number one in the UK and USA. Its success revitalised his back catalogue and in July 1983, he had 10 entries in the UK albums chart – a total bettered only by Elvis Presley.
His final release on EMI was Tin Machine in 1989, which reached number three in the UK albums chart. His innovative and unique music has inspired generations of musicians.
British heavy metal band, Iron Maiden released their debut album on EMI on 14th April 1980. Entitled “Iron Maiden”, it reached number four in the UK albums chart and achieved recognition for the band throughout Europe. During their long career with EMI, Iron Maiden released 16 studio albums as well as live albums, EPs, compilations, singles, video albums and box sets.
Inspiring hundreds of rock bands over the years, Iron Maiden were a local sensation for four years before being signed by EMI. One of the genre’s most epic songs from 1982, The Number of the Beast, is etched into the annals of heavy metal history.
From Aussie soap star to pop princess, Kylie Minogue signed to EMI in 2000. Among her most famous number one hits are Spinning Around (2000); Can’t Get You Out of My Head (2001); and Slow (2003).
She has become an inspirational women’s icon following her successful battle with breast cancer in 2005, which led to the postponement of her Showgirl: The Greatest Hits tour half way through. She resumed the tour in 2006 following radiotherapy treatment and has gone on to have a hugely successful singing career in all corners of the globe.
Renowned for being one of the greatest names in the history of music, EMI is now part of the Universal Music Group.