Chrysalis Records

Chrysalis Records (/ˈkrɪsəlɪs/) is a British record label that was created in 1968. The name was both a reference to the pupal stage of a butterfly and a combination of its founders' names, Chris Wright and Terry Ellis.[1] It started as the Ellis-Wright Agency.[2]

Chrysalis Records
Founded1968 (1968)
FounderChris Wright (music industry executive)
Terry Ellis
StatusUK: Independent record company, owned by Reservoir Media Management
U.S.: defunct, merged into Universal Music Group
Distributor(s)U.S. artist including The Ramones and Robbie Williams catalogues: Universal Music Group

Most non-U.S. artist catalogues, plus the rights to ten artists not originally signed to Chrysalis: Blue Raincoat Music/Reservoir Media Management

Catalogues of Spandau Ballet, Jethro Tull, The Ramones and The Proclaimers: Warner Music Group

Country of originUnited Kingdom
Official website


Early years

In an interview for Jethro Tull's video 20 Years of Jethro Tull, released in 1988, Wright states "Chrysalis Records might have come into being anyway, you never know what might have happened, but Chrysalis Records really came into being because Jethro Tull couldn't get a record deal and MGM couldn't even get their name right on the record". This was after the single Sunshine Day/Aeroplane was incorrectly credited to Jethro Toe.

Chrysalis entered into a licensing deal with Chris Blackwell's Island Records for distribution, based on the success of bands like Jethro Tull, Ten Years After and Procol Harum, which were promoted by the label. Jethro Tull signed with Reprise Records in the United States, which led Chrysalis to an American distribution deal with Reprise's parent company, Warner Bros. Records. This lasted from 1972 until U.S. Chrysalis switched to independent distribution in 1976. PolyGram handled international distribution and Festival Records covered Australia and New Zealand. Towards the end of the 1970s, the label began to extend its range of music, incorporating acts from the Punk Rock scene such as Generation X. The Chrysalis offshoot 2 Tone Records brought in bands such as The Specials and The Selecter.[3]

In 1979 Chrysalis bought and distributed U.S. folk label Takoma Records, naming manager/producer Denny Bruce as president, who signed The Fabulous Thunderbirds and T-Bone Burnett. Jon Monday who was Vice President of Takoma Records prior to the acquisition continued as General Manager,[4] later becoming Director of Marketing of Chrysalis Records.

Chrysalis made history in 1979 by creating the first "music video album", a videocassette featuring a corresponding music video for each song on Blondie's Eat to the Beat album (released at the same time as the LP).

In the 1980s, Chrysalis was at the forefront of the British New Romantic movement with bands such as Gen X, Ultravox, and Spandau Ballet. The 1980s proved to be the most successful time for the label, whose roster then included Billy Idol, Pat Benatar, Blondie and Huey Lewis and the News. Chrysalis also distributed Animal Records, the short-lived label founded by Blondie guitarist Chris Stein. In 1983 Daniel Glass moved to Chrysalis as Director of New Music Marketing, advancing later to Senior Vice President. In 1984 after the label re-established itself in New York, Eric Heckman, formally of Atlantic and Epic records promotion took over as Senior Director of Promotion and Marketing. During the next two years Chrysalis broke Huey Lewis and the News, Billy Idol and Spandau Ballet. Pat Benatar continued to find success on both traditional and dance charts.


The Chrysalis Records label was sold 50% in 1990, then the remaining half in 1991 to EMI with catalogue and artists such as Starsailor being shifted to the main EMI imprints. Chrysalis Records folded into EMI subsidiary and flagship label EMI Records in 2005. In 2010, BMG Rights Management bought Chrysalis Music's assets.[5]

The British Chrysalis catalogue (minus Robbie Williams, whose catalogue stayed behind with Universal's Island Records) was put up for sale by Universal Music Group after its acquisition of EMI. In July 2013, Warner Music Group completed acquisition of Parlophone Label Group, which includes the British Chrysalis catalogue, for £487 million.[6] When Universal Music Group purchased EMI in 2012 ownership of Chrysalis passed to UMG. In 2013 Warner Music Group acquired part of EMI from UMG, including the original UK Chrysalis Records Ltd with its catalogue of 130 artists. The American Chrysalis catalogue, including artists such as Blondie, Huey Lewis and The News, and Pat Benatar, was merged into EMI Records Group America, which was then merged into Capitol Music Group, parent of former sister label Capitol Records, and is currently distributed by that label. The Ramones US distribution catalogue was later acquired by another sister label of Capitol's, Geffen Records, with distribution by Universal Music Enterprises, but the British distribution of The Ramones Chrysalis catalogue remained with Parlophone.

Later ownership

In May 2016, Blue Raincoat Music purchased Chrysalis Records Ltd and most of the British signed artist catalogue from Warner Music Group. Blue Raincoat founders Jeremy Lascelles and Robin Millar brought in Robert Devereux and Chrysalis co-founder Chris Wright to augment the team. The deal reunited Wright, who was named non-executive chairman of Chrysalis, with the company he set up 47 years previously. The catalogues of namely Spandau Ballet, The Proclaimers, Jethro Tull and The Ramones (only in the UK) stayed behind with Warner.

Besides its European catalogue, the Chrysalis deal also included the rights to Everything but the Girl,[7] Suzi Quatro, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, Athlete, Fun Lovin' Criminals,[8] Naked Eyes, Grant Lee Buffalo, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Lucinda Williams, Dario G, and Toumani Diabaté.[9]

In August 2019, Reservoir Media Management acquired Blue Raincoat Music.[10]



  1. Jason Nisse (7 February 1993). "Profile: A truly passionate sport: Chris Wright of Chrysalis outplayed BSkyB in football with his Italian job and is now revving up a car racing deal. Jason Nisse on a music man with perfect pitch". The Independent. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  2. Ben Sisario (27 November 2010). "Music Publisher BMG Buying Chrysalis in $168 Million Deal". New York Times. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  3. "History of Chrysalis Group plc – FundingUniverse". Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  4. Billboard - Google Books. 2 June 1979. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  5. "Chrysalis agrees to takeover by BMG". The Guardian. 26 November 2010.
  6. "Warner Music Group Completes Acquisition of Parlophone Label Group" (Press release). Warner Music Group. 1 July 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  7. "Girl power: Inside Chrysalis' new deal for Everything But The Girl's catalogue". Music Week. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  8. "Now Warner sells records by Athlete, Steve Harley and more to Chrysalis". Music Business Worldwide. 7 July 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  9. "Chrysalis acquires Parlophone catalogues under divestment deal". Music Week. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  10. "The iconic Chrysalis Records has a new home – at fast-growing Reservoir". Music Business Worldwide. 29 August 2019.
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