This year sees one of the most iconic record labels in the world, Decca Records, turn 90 years old. Since its formation, on February 28, 1929, Decca has burgeoned from a prosperous British company to a fully-fledged international powerhouse – quickly earning the title as ‘The Supreme Record Company’ – a statement that resonates stronger than ever 90 years on.
Decca has been the home to countless legendary musicians from Luciano Pavarotti to David Bowie, Dame Vera Lynn to Bing Crosby, Tom Jonesto Billie Holiday, The Rolling Stones to Mantovani and is now providing the platform for a new generation of ambitious artists at the forefront of their scenes – names such as Andrea Bocelli, Sheku Kanneh-Masonand Gregory Porter, who continue to represent the label’s cultural legacy.
Throughout 2019, Decca will be celebrating its nine decades of excellence, marking the occasion with:
- The Supreme Record Company: The Story Of Decca Records 1929-2019 Book: A lavishly illustrated, first comprehensive history of the label.
- Pavarotti Feature Film: A milestone full-length documentary directed by Ron Howard telling the true story of Decca’s global superstar.
- V&A Event: London’s prestigious V&A opens its doors to Decca on Sunday, May 5th (as part of the V&A Performance Festival 2019) for a day of family fun and music.
- A Return to Decca’s Lost Recording Studio: Decca’s West Hampstead studios, a hidden historical gem, will open again in July for just a few nights, offering an array of different activities, from one-off performances to unseen artworks and exhibitions.
- Reissues and Rarities:90 physical and digital releases that embrace the spirit of the label. The first Friday of every month for the whole of 2019 will be ‘Decca Day’ with a new release.
- Performances: A unique series of concerts in London, Berlin and Paris throughout 2019. Decca 90 will also be celebrated at key UK arts and music festivals such as Love Supreme, all four Cheltenham events and Village Green.
- Record Store Day 2019 (13 April): A series of exclusive vinyl releases for this global celebration of independent record shops.
- Rare David Bowie Videos:Six Deram-era clips restored to 1080 HD by the UMC team to be released monthly.
- Radio:Two programmes on BBC Radio 2 (available globally on theBBC Sounds app) that chart 20 of the most iconic Decca recordings of all time.
- Podcasts: 45 unique 90-second podcasts – 45 RPM (Recorded Podcast Moments) that outline key aspects of the label’s history, to appear on decca90.com.
Decca has always been more than just a label: it was also a major innovator in recorded sound – its name originates from the DeccaDulcephone portable gramophone, one of the first of its kind, and the label’s revolutionary work in developing radar with the Decca Navigator System had a significant impact during the Second World War.
When Decca took the giant steps forward in recorded sound post-war, it ushered in a truly golden era for classical music. Decca created by far the finest opera catalogue the record world has ever seen, thanks to the contributions of such wonderful singers as Luciano Pavarotti and Joan Sutherland, and large-scale projects like the first complete Ring cycle. As Decca turns 90, the label is also celebrating major milestones for some of its most distinguished artists: Renée Fleming approaches 25 years on Decca; Cecilia Bartoli reaches 30 years; and Riccardo Chaillycelebrates an incredible 40 years. These long-lasting relationships are testament to the label’s dedication and ongoing support for its artists. This commitment continues with the present generation of top classical stars including Nicola Benedetti, Miloš Karadaglić, Jess Gillam and Sheku Kanneh-Mason.
The label’s legacy for spoken word, poetry and comedy records is unsurpassed, for example its recordings with Spike Milligan. Other Deccapioneers such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Bill Haley, Tommy Steele, The Goons, Benjamin Britten, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore and bandleader Ted Heath all paved the way for future generations in their respective fields.
Now, in the 21st century, Decca continues to go from strength to strength. Last year alone, the label had a No.1 album with Andrea Bocelli, helped teenage cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason sell 100,000 albums worldwide, assisted Buddy Holly’s return to the UK Top 10, and saw Hollywood superstar Jeff Goldblum top the UK Jazz Charts with his debut record.
Part of Universal Music Group, Decca is not only home to some of the world’s biggest and best acts in music, but has served as the official label partner to three Royal Weddings, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics.
“Decca Records has been the soundtrack to many historical and cultural moments, a truly unique brand with a truly unique identity,” reflects Decca president, Rebecca Allen. “Even now, as we celebrate our 90th anniversary, we continue to push the boundaries; to seek out artists who are distinctive, who stand out from the crowd, artists that will continue to define our label for the next nine decades.”
Back in the summer of 1929, a national advert in Melody Maker magazine issued the following prediction about a fledgling label: “All record lovers will be talking about Decca Records”. Fast forward to 2019 and people are still talking about Decca as it now celebrates its 90th anniversary.
Watch the restored HD version of RUBBER BAND: