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11 Aug 2010
Elektra Celebrates 60th Anniversary With Launch Of Unique, Interactive Website
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Innovative Timeline Charts History Of
Visionary Label,
Provides Portal Into Content-Rich Web Experience

2010 marks the 60th Anniversary of Elektra Records, one of the most revered labels in the history of modern music.  In celebration, the company has launched Elektra60.com, an innovative, interactive digital experience that tells the stories of the legendary artists, the music, and the culture that have defined the label over the past six decades.  Conceived and curated by Elektra founder Jac Holzman, who currently serves as a Senior Advisor to Warner Music Group Chairman and CEO, Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Elektra60.com draws on the label’s rich archives to create a unique, ever-evolving experience designed to reward deep and repeated exploration.

The launching pad and central feature of Elektra60.com is a dramatic, user-controlled Timeline that traces the history of the company from its beginnings in 1950 to the present day, highlighting nearly 100 significant artists.  Searchable by year and by artist, the Timeline incorporates streaming audio, multiple images, video content, and historical information.  As the viewer scrolls along the Timeline, various elements relating to each year and each artist float to the surface.  The Timeline provides multiple portals into the full site, where visitors can further investigate the Elektra story.  The full Elektra60.com site will feature a continually growing, expanding array of content, combined with opportunities for viewer commentary and participation. 

Commenting on the launch of Elektra60.com, Jac Holzman noted:  “Breaking from the valid and understandable anniversary traditions of the past, we decided to celebrate Elektra on the Web, the connective community of our age.  This is a unique, ever-changing party to which everyone is invited and encouraged to participate.  It was modeled on a world’s fair, where a visitor can walk down the center promenade and take in the sights and sounds, and step into multiple pavilions for more enriching experiences.  Elektra60.com is a living, breathing site that will continue to evolve over the upcoming weeks and months, as fresh content is added and new paths revealed.  We hope to inspire a sense of wonder and discovery, as the label itself has strived to do for the past six decades.”

At launch, among the site’s many features are areas devoted to: Essential Elektra Artists (including bios and photo galleries); Elektra Chief Executives And The Artists They Signed (a chronology); Dreams Of Vinyl – the story of the LP by Jac Holzman; Doors From The Inside – six 45-minute audio excerpts from Holzman’s acclaimed 1988 Doors radio series; Rubaiyat – Elektra’s 40th Anniversary collection (1990) featuring then-current Elektra artists covering songs from the Elektra catalog; The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds – the legendary psychedelic concept album revolving around the signs of the Zodiac; and a Discussion Forum for comments and dialog relating to the Timeline.

Elektra60.com is enabled by the Cisco Eos® Platform, with the Timeline designed by the digital agency Rokkan, in conjunction with Jac Holzman and a creative team of Warner Music Group archivists and developers.

Cisco Eos is a social media platform that enables Elektra to create a richer social entertainment experience around the Elektra60.com site, the Elektra.com site, and websites from Elektra artists, including current signings Bruno Mars, Laza Morgan, and Cee Lo Green.  By utilizing Cisco Eos as a platform for its label and artist sites, Elektra can build on its rich history of innovative fan engagement by offering new and deeper online entertainment experiences.

Elektra’s 60th Anniversary is also being marked by the September publication of Becoming Elektra: The True Story Of Jac Holzman’s Visionary Record Label.  Written by noted British music journalist Mick Houghton and published by Jawbone Press, it is a compelling account of Jac Holzman’s Elektra era – from his founding of the label in 1950 to his departure in 1973.  In conjunction with the launch of Elektra60.com and the publication of Becoming Elektra, Jac Holzman will tell the story of Elektra at several special events in the upcoming weeks.  Details will be announced shortly.

In celebration of Elektra’s 60th, a special limited-edition poster has been designed by noted graphic designer Bill Harvey, the son of Elektra’s original art director, William S. Harvey.  Additional special Elektra60 items will be available in the Store area of Elektra60.com.


ELEKTRA RECORDS 1950-2010
On October 10, 1950, Elektra Records was born in 19-year-old Jac Holzman’s dorm room at St. John’s College in Maryland.  The label’s first release came in March 1951 with an album entitled “New Songs by John Gruen.”  The jacket copy noted that Elektra “shall continue to offer disks of unusual and worthy musical fare,” a mission statement that came to define the label for decades to come.  Through the 1950s, the label released an eclectic mix of traditional folk, ethnic music, blues, and some jazz – with a roster including such influential artists as Josh White, Sonny Terry, and Theodore Bikel.  In 1960, Elektra released an unlikely million-selling set of successful “Sound Effects” records that put the label on sound financial footing.

In the 1960s, Elektra entered its “golden age,” signing such folk icons as Judy Collins, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, and Tim Buckley.  Moving into electric blues with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the label made the transition into the rock era with such iconic bands as Love, The Doors, and the Stooges, while maintaining its eclecticism with artists ranging from the psychedelic folk of the Incredible String Band to the pop/rock of Bread.  Meanwhile, in 1964, Elektra launched the Nonesuch budget classical label, followed three years later by the Nonesuch Explorer Series, pioneering what would become known as world music.

In 1970, Elektra and Nonesuch were acquired by Warner Communications (later Time Warner).  In the early 1970s, Holzman’s signings included Carly Simon, Harry Chapin, and Queen.  In 1973, Holzman left the company he had founded 23 years earlier, handing the reins to David Geffen, who merged Elektra with his Asylum label – whose roster included such artists as Jackson Browne, the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, and Warren Zevon.  Under the subsequent leadership of Joe Smith, the latter half of the decade saw the Elektra/Asylum roster grow to embrace country music with Eddie Rabbitt, punk with Television, new wave with the Cars, and jazz/R&B with Grover Washington, Jr.

In the early 1980s, the world of Elektra expanded once again with the formation of the jazz subsidiary Elektra Musician under Bruce Lundvall, and the signing of such major artists as The Cure, Mötley Crüe, and X.  Elektra’s next executive shift came with the arrival of Bob Krasnow, who led the company from 1983 to 1994, during which its reputation as the “artists label” was enhanced with the signings of 10,000 Maniacs, Anita Baker, Metallica, Natalie Cole, Gipsy Kings, Sugarcubes (featuring Björk), Tracy Chapman, Simply Red, Phish, Billy Bragg, Keith Sweat, Howard Jones, and the Pixies.

From 1994 to 2004, the Elektra Entertainment Group was headed by Sylvia Rhone, former head of Atlantic’s Atco/EastWest division, who became the first African American woman to become Chairman of a major label group.  In addition to continuing to develop the label’s existing roster, among the artists who joined the Elektra stable during Rhone’s tenure were Missy Elliott, Gerald Levert, Staind, Busta Rhymes, Jason Mraz, Third Eye Blind, and Jet.  In 2004, with the new independence of Warner Music Group following its sale by Time Warner, Elektra was merged into the Atlantic Records Group. For the first time since its formation 54 years earlier, Elektra was no longer an active enterprise, going on sabbatical until bright new talents could be found to rebirth the iconic label for a new century.

In June 2009, it was announced that Elektra was being relaunched after a five-year hiatus.  Named to head the reborn label were Mike Caren, Atlantic Executive Vice President of A&R, and John Janick, founder and President of the prominent indie label Fueled By Ramen.  Its first artists include Cee Lo of Grammy-winning duo Gnarls Barkley, dance-pop songstress Little Boots, celebrated vocalist/actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, and acclaimed singer/ songwriter/producer Bruno Mars.  With eclecticism and originality at the core of Elektra’s original mission, the new Elektra is clearly remaining faithful to the cause.

John Janick comments that “Elektra Records is marking its 60th Anniversary in 2010, and it feels like the perfect time to recapture and reignite the spirit which made the label a beacon of great music and eclectic artistry. This is a sacred trust that Mike and I take very seriously, and that we will strive to uphold in the years ahead.”  Janick’s new partner Mike Caren notes:  “Our first signings already signal the diversity that has been and will continue to be Elektra’s trademark. John and I are devoted to seeking out original and compelling artists from all walks of music, and giving them a place they can call home.”

Fittingly, Jac Holzman puts Elektra’s ongoing life cycle in perfect perspective:  “Iconic isn't my word but it is how Elektra came to be recognized over the years.  I wanted people to be able to trust Elektra, to feel each release had an artistic core of some merit, and that there was someone who stood behind it.  Each new label head reverentially built on the accomplishments of his predecessor, zealously guarding Elektra's magical reputation.  I'm fortunate to have yet another chance to watch Elektra bloom.”

Source: Elektra Records