Philips Records Ltd. and Phonogram UK were a major record label and recording company, but are no longer in existence today. This is a history of the two companies and the various record labels that were issued by them, together with a list of their leading artists over 45 years. There are a total of twelve pages to visit including this one. Click on the blue lozenges at the top of this page.

Launched in the UK under the slogan The Records Of The Century, referring to Philips Industries' London head office at Century House in Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2 where the company was first located. Under the initial leadership of Managing Director Neil Margerison (whose son Dave Margerison would go on to manage Supertramp and Chris de Burgh), the first releases in Britain appeared at the beginning of January 1953 on 10" 78rpm discs, with LPs appearing in July 1954 and extended-play discs in September 1955. Surprisingly, Philips was the last company in the UK to start issuing 45 rpm singles in January 1958.

UK pressings on shellac were initially manufactured at the National Plastics Company on the North Circular Road at Walthamstow in east London, before Philips set up their own large pressing plant at a new adjacent building in 1958. After the separation of American Columbia repertoire from EMI in 1953, Philips Records started to press and distribute original U.S. Columbia recordings on their Philips label in the UK - as well as on the European continent. (The copyright for the 'Columbia' and ‘Magic Notes’ labels were owned by EMI in the UK until 1991).

Philips Records started up in Britain in January 1953 in the same year as Pye Records, just two months after the record charts were first introduced in the UK by the New Musical Express. Together with the well-established companies EMI and Decca, they became the four major record labels in the UK. (Polydor and the German classical labels Heliodor and Deutsche Grammophon started issuing material later on in Britain in 1959.)

An important deal was struck at the very beginning of 1953 with Columbia Records in America which enabled Philips (and later Fontana in 1958) to release all their product in the UK after the U.S. giant terminated their long standing contract with EMI. Another contract was signed in the late 1950s with Caedmon, the New York based spoken word label to issue albums and extended-play discs which resulted in 30 complete Shakespeare plays being released as three or four record boxed sets with full texts supplied, as well as all the Shakespeare sonnets read by John Gielgud. Further contracts were made at the same time with the prestigious Riverside jazz label and Audio Fidelity, a U.S. label specialising in extreme stereo sound recordings. These achieved modest but important sales for the now fast expanding Philips Records Group. The American Mercury label and its jazz repertoire spin off Limelight, were bought by Philips in 1964.

But at the start in 1953, it was the age of 78rpm records and the very birth of vinyl albums which initially came in a 10-inch size before the 12-inch was introduced a year later. 45rpm extended-play discs were released in September 1955, although 45rpm single-play discs were not issued until 1958. The company continued to prosper throughout the 1950s until the end of the 1990s, with a wide and successful roster of popular artists and a meticulously recorded classical repertoire.

By 1971, the staff and the company had changed considerably and was re-named Phonogram Records. Many new rock, pop and soul labels were issued by Phonogram in the Seventies including Vertigo, Chess, Avco, Janus/Westbound, All Platinum, Sire, De-Lite, etc., in addition to the firmly established Philips, Fontana and Mercury labels.

So here is the story of Philips Industries' involvement in recorded music in Britain during a period that lasted 45 years, before being merged with many other record companies into the Universal Music Group in 1998. It shows how the music and the various labels were developed and the people who made it happen.


For further information and any observations you might like to make, please contact :

Click on the blue lozenges at the top of the page for information on the various record labels and music released by Philips and Phonogram from the 1950s to the 1990s



fontana logo mercury vertigo logo catalogues
With acknowledgements to the Philips Records and Phonogram team through these years:-
Roger Ames Ian Collins Mike Keyworth Roland Rennie
Dennis Astrop  Alan Cowderoy Dick Leahy Mike Sage
Rodger Bain John Deacon, CBE Steve Lillywhite David Scoppie
David Bates Chris Dedman Tommy Loftus Henry Semmence
Jack Baverstock  Lisa Denton John Mair Brian Shepherd
Dennis Berger Norman Divall Ken Maliphant David Shrimpton
Howard Berman Mike Everett Neil McEwan David Simone
Jack Boyce Paddy Fleming Gary Moore Erik Smith
Chris Briggs Karen Fox “A.J." Morris  Mike Stanford
Jack Bright Johnny Franz Brian Mulligan Mike Storey
Gloria Bristow Mariella Frostrup Bob Nolan Tom Stephenson
Steve Brown Steve Gottlieb Peter Olliff Roy Tempest
Terry Brown Leslie Gould Chris Parmenter Caesar Voute
Kay Cain Nigel Grainge Chris Peers Roger Wake
David Cairns David Howson Don Percival John Waller
Leon Campadelli John Humphries Tony Powell Walter Woyda
Quita Chavez John Kennedy Andrew Prewett Olav Wyper
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