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Happy 60th, Elektra

 

Sixty years ago, 19-year-old Jac Holzman started a record label called Elektra in his St. John's College dormitory. What began as a folk music label in 1950 became one of the most important in popular music. Along with Tim Buckley, at various times the roster included Love, the Doors and The MC5, Linda Ronstadt and Carly Simon, Queen, The Cure and Metallica, Tracy Chapman and 10,000 Maniacs.

Elektra is celebrating its 60th anniversary with an event October 14 at New York's 92nd St. Y with Holzman and former label-mates Jackson Browne and Natalie Merchant. Interviewing them will be Patti Smith and unofficial Elektra historian, guitarist Lenny Kaye.

They have also opened a stand-alone Elektra60 website, which features extensive samples of the labels music from 1950 to the present day.

"They made the mainstream come to them," Kaye told spinner.com, "as opposed to vice-versa, and so were able to do something fairly unique in terms of what a record label. They were able to create their own identity."

Elektra's stable of major folk talent included Judy Collins, Tim Buckley and Phil Ochs. "And as folk music grew," Kaye says, "that's really key to Elektra's thing. They were able to follow its development into a rock 'n' roll that was based in art as opposed to the Top 40 ready-mades."

Tim released four albums during his time at Elektra: Tim Buckley (1966), Goodbye and Hello (1967), Happy/Sad (1969) and Lorca (1970).


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