Colgems Records Parent company Columbia-Screen Gems and RCA Records Founded 1966 Status Defunct Distributor(s) RCA Records
Colgems Records was a record label which existed from 1966 to 1971. It was a joint venture between Screen Gems, the television division of Columbia Pictures, and RCA Records, to issue records by The Monkees and other artists affiliated with Screen Gems. The label would also issue soundtrack recordings for Screen Gems and Columbia Pictures productions. RCA acted as manufacturer and distributor for Colgems. (Outside the United States, all Colgems productions appeared on the RCA Victor label.)
An earlier label, Colpix Records, was dissolved to make way for the new company, and nearly all Colpix titles went out of print. (One Colpix album was reissued on Colgems; the soundtrack to the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.) Even before the Monkees began, Colpix had signed two future members – Davy Jones, recruited to Screen Gems by Ward Sylvester, and Michael Nesmith, who recorded as "Michael Blessing". Eventually, the Colpix catalog was sold to Roulette Records. Today, the Colpix catalog is owned jointly by Rhino/Warner and EMI.
Among the non-Monkees Colgems roster were Sally Field (star of Gidget and The Flying Nun), Jewel Akens, Sajid Khan (star of the short-lived NBC / MGM series "Maya"), Paula Wayne, The Lewis & Clarke Expedition (whose members included Michael Martin Murphy). Hoyt Axton (who went on to write "The Pusher" for Steppenwolf and "Joy to the World" for Three Dog Night), Alex Keenan and comedian Rich Little. Soundtracks to Casino Royale, Oliver!, In Cold Blood, and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner were also released on Colgems.
Decline and Phase Out
Colgems Records slumped after the critical and commercial failure of the last Monkees album Changes, which featured only Jones and Micky Dolenz. The label's final release, titled Barrel Full of Monkees and showcasing its flagship act, appeared in 1971 but sold poorly. Colgems then closed, and its master recordings and artists were folded into the Bell Records family, which, unlike Colgems, was wholly owned by Columbia Pictures. Bell later evolved into Arista Records, headed by Clive Davis.
In 1979, Columbia Pictures sold Arista (including the Colgems assets) to BMG-owned Ariola Records. Six years later, Ariola's parent company, BMG, merged with RCA Records.
Today, the assets of Colgems Records (except for The Monkees' output) is controlled by Sony Music Entertainment - incidentally, parent company Sony had acquired Columbia Pictures in 1989. All of the Monkees' recordings are currently owned by Rhino Records, who licensed the group's original Colgems LP's from Arista and reissued them in the mid-1980s.
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