Cherry Red Records

Cherry Red Records is a British independent record label founded by Iain McNay in 1978. The label has released recordings by Dead Kennedys, Everything But the Girl, The Monochrome Set, and Felt, among others, as well as the compilation album Pillows & Prayers. In addition to releasing new music, Cherry Red also acts as an umbrella for individual imprints and catalogue specialists.

Cherry Red
FounderIain McNay
Richard Jones
Distributor(s)Proper Music Distribution
GenrePunk rock, alternative rock
Country of originUnited Kingdom
LocationLondon, England

Cherry Red was listed by Music Week[1] as one of the UK’s top ten record companies in Q1 2015 for sales of artist albums.


Cherry Red grew from the rock promotion company (similarly named after the song "Cherry Red" by The Groundhogs) founded in 1971 to promote rock concerts at the Malvern Winter Gardens. In the wake of the independent record boom that followed the advent of punk rock, founders Iain McNay (who remains company chairman) and Richard Jones released the label's first single, "Bad Hearts" by punk band The Tights in June 1978.

Cherry Red's early roster included releases by Morgan Fisher under various pseudonyms, using a small studio installed in his Notting Hill flat, as well as material licensed from The Hollywood Brats, Destroy All Monsters and The Runaways. The latter was the label's biggest seller until McNay invested $10,000 in the recording of the debut studio album by San Franciscan political punk band Dead Kennedys. Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1979) and its attendant singles sold well worldwide. New A&R head Mike Alway had promoted the Snoopies venue in Richmond, London and been involved with the Scissor Fits, and signed groups including The Monochrome Set, Everything But The Girl, Eyeless in Gaza, Felt, and Five Or Six. McNay aspired for Cherry Red to be a label that offered a space for artists who would otherwise not fit the image of some of the more succinctly defined and stylised independents. "Cherry Red Records was always about musical individuality, diversity, character, commitment and passion," he stated in 2008.[2] It also marketed other smaller independent record labels, like Bristol's Heartbeat Records, which recorded the Glaxo Babies.

Cherry Red's role as one of the keynote labels of the early 1980s independent scene was confirmed by the success of a budget compilation album compiled by Alway and released at Christmas 1982. Retailing for 99p, Pillows & Prayers topped the independent charts for several weeks.

Cherry Red continued to sign contemporary artists but increasingly moved into the reissue market from the late 1980s onwards. It has a number of subsidiary labels dealing in genre-specific releases, curating many "critically unloved" musical genres, in partial continuation of McNay's earlier advocacy of the unfashionable.

The company has also signed agreements with a number of specialist reissue labels, which operate with a degree of autonomy using Cherry Red's logistical and financial support. Mark Stratford's RPM Records label focuses on pop music from the 1960s to the advent of punk. Esoteric Recordings, headed by Mark Powell, specialises in progressive rock and folk catalogue. Mark Brennan heads 7T's Records, which reissues albums by that decade's glam/glitter generation. (Brennan originally helped Cherry Red form one of its first subsidiary labels, Anagram, covering punk, Psychobilly and Goth, which remains active). él Records continues under the auspices of Mike Alway (but purely as a re-release label), alongside other labels including Poker, Giant Steps, Mortarhate, Now Sounds, and Ork. The Cherry Red label group continues to house reissues, but is also active in the release of new studio material by established artists such as Suzi Quatro, Marc Almond, Red Box, Van Der Graaf Generator, Jah Wobble & Keith Levene, Squackett (a collaboration between Steve Hackett and Chris Squire), Hussey-Regan (a collaboration between Wayne Hussey and Julianne Regan), Hazel O'Connor, The Christians and Ken Hensley.

Still headed by McNay, a fan of AFC Wimbledon, alongside managing director Adam Velasco, Cherry Red also has interests in football-related releases, with the most complete catalogue of soccer-related songs extant.

In 2007, the company launched a streaming television service, cherry red TV. It also publishes an in-house magazine and an 'in-house' publishing division, 'Cherry Red Songs'.[3]

In early 2015, Cherry Red Records and PWL reissued the first four Kylie Minogue albums, Kylie, Enjoy Yourself, Rhythm Of Love and Let's Get To It, as deluxe CD/DVD and LP boxsets.[4]

Cherry Red also released a plethora of prestigious frontline albums by established artists that year, including Marc Almond's The Velvet Trail, The Zombies' Still Got That Hunger, Sarah Cracknell's Red Kite, Andy Bell of Erasure's Torsten The Bareback Saint, Jimmy Somerville's Homage, The Fall's Sub-Lingual Tablet and Wolfgang Flür's (ex-Kraftwerk) Eloquence to name a few.

In 2016 Cherry Red had its highest Top 40 chart position, with the new studio album from Hawkwind 'The Machine Stops' reaching No.29 in the Official UK Charts in April 2016.[5] It also announced the release the brand new studio album from Van Der Graaf Generator in September.

In 2017 Cherry Red confirmed it will be representing several label catalogues and artist discographies, including Procol Harum, The Residents, Arthur Brown, Captain Oi, Glenn Hughes and Tim Blake. [6] It also acquired thirteen artist catalogues from Warner Music Group as part of the major's divestments to independent labels, including Howard Jones, Kim Wilde, Marc Almond, Third Ear Band, Dinosaur Jr., Mel & Kim, Fourplay (shared with Evolution Media Group), Renaissance (except their debut album, which remained with Elektra Records), Be-Bop Deluxe and Curved Air. [7] These catalogues will be distributed worldwide through Absolute Label Services.[8]

The 2017 BPI yearbook 'All About The Music' included Cherry Red in the 20 Market Share By Corporate Group at number 15, which explains the chart-eligible album sales of all record labels.[9]

In 2018 Cherry Red acquired the extensive catalogue of Witchwood Media, home to the music of the Strawbs and a roster of other related artists.[10]

Notable awards and prizes

In June 2008 the Pillows & Prayers box set won the 'Best Catalogue Release category at that year's Mojo Honours.[11]

At the 2013 Association of Independent Music Awards, Cherry Red won the Special Catalogue Release award for Scared To Get Happy - a box set that explored indie pop from 1980-1989.[12].

In 2014, Cherry Red artist Dave Brock of Hawkwind won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the inaugural Prog (magazine) Progressive Music Awards 2014. They also picked up nominations for Matt Stevens (Breakthrough Artist) and Panic Room (Best Anthem).

The 2015 Progressive Music Awards saw Genesis founder Tony Banks receive the Prog God award after his solo material catalogue reissue campaign with Cherry Red that year. The label also picked up nominations[13] for John Lodge and Tin Spirits in the Best Anthem category, and Bill Nelson and Anthony Phillips in the Storm Thorgerson Grand Design Award category.

2016 has seen Cherry Red's biggest release of the first quarter of the year, the new studio album from Hawkwind 'The Machine Stops', receive a nomination for Album Of The Year in the Progressive Music Awards 2016,[14] after it enjoyed Cherry Red's highest ever Top 40 chart position at No.29 in the Official UK Charts in April 2016.

Cherry Red have had two albums in the UK Album Charts Top 40 in 2017. Hawkwind's studio album Into The Woods charted at No. 34 in May [15] and the Fall's New Facts Emerge charted at No. 35 in July. [16]

On 4 September 2018 at the AIM Independent Music Awards, Cherry Red Records Chairman Iain McNay won the Special Recognition Award for his service to independent music for over 40 years, as the label celebrated its 40th anniversary.[17]

Hawkwind's studio album Road To Utopia charted at No 44 in the UK Albums Chart in September 2018.[18]

Cherry Red artists

Original label artists

Reissue label artists

Cherry Red associated imprint labels

The full repertoire of Cherry Red associated imprint labels as of 2016:[21]

  • 30 Hertz
  • 359 Music
  • 3Loop Music
  • 7Ts
  • Anagram Records
  • Analog Baroque (Momus)
  • Artpop
  • Atomhenge
  • Badfish
  • Bella Casa
  • Big Break Records
  • Cherry Pop
  • Cherry Red Football
  • Cherry Red Records
  • Cherry Tree
  • Cocteau Discs
  • Croydon Municipal
  • el
  • Esoteric Antenna
  • Esoteric Recordings
  • FiveFour
  • Giant Steps
  • Grapefruit
  • HNE Recordings
  • Hot Milk
  • Hot Shot
  • IronBird
  • Lemon
  • Manticore
  • Morello
  • Mortarhate
  • Now Sounds
  • Original Dope
  • Phoenix City
  • Poker
  • Pressure Drop
  • Purple Records
  • Reactive
  • Redline
  • Rev-Ola
  • Righteous
  • Robinsongs
  • RPM
  • SFE
  • Sidewinder Sounds
  • SoulMusic Records
  • SuperBird
  • T-Bird Americana
  • The Right Honourable Recording Company Ltd
  • Tune In
  • Visionary
  • West Midlands
  • WiseCrack Records


Notable compilations released by Cherry Red Records include:

See also


  1. "Music Week". Music Week. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  2. I'll Give You My Heart box set sleeve notes (LP sleeve). 2008.
  3. "Cherry Red Licensing". Cherry Red Licensing. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  4. "PWL - Pete Waterman Entertainment | Step Back In Time - The PWL Kylie Minogue Reissue Campaign". 20 June 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  5. "Official Charts Company". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  6. "Cherry Red Acquires New Catalogues". Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  7. "Cherry Red set to capitalise on Warner divestment". Music Week. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  8. "Absolute inks worldwide deal with Cherry Red for Warner-divested catalogues - Music Business Worldwide". 12 February 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  9. "All about music report" (PDF). 2017.
  10. ""We look forward to a creative partnership": Cherry Red acquires Strawbs' Witchwood Media catalogue".
  11. "MOJO Award Winners". BBC 6. 16 June 2008. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  12. "AIM Independent Music Awards: 2013 - The Association of Independent Music". 3 September 2013. Archived from the original on 8 May 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  13. "Prog Magazine". Team Rock. Team Rock. 24 June 2015.
  14. "Progressive Music Awards". Team Rock. Archived from the original on 10 July 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  15. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 August 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. "The Fall - full Official Chart History - Official Charts Company". Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  17. "The Aftershow: Iain McNay - Interviews - Music Week". Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  18. "HAWKWIND - full Official Chart History - Official Charts Company". Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  19. "Cherry Red Records". Cherry Red Records. Archived from the original on 11 January 2011. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  20. "Kylie Minogue / box sets & reissues". Superdeluxeedition. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  21. "Cherry Red Records". Cherry Red Records Official Website. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
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