Bell Records

:"This article is about the record label active in the US and UK in the 1960s and 1970s.
For the earlier Bell Records labels, see Bell Records (1920s) and Bell Records (1940).

Bell Records was an American record label founded in 1954 in New York. A British branch was also active in the 1960s and 1970s. Bell Records was replaced in the mid-1970s by Arista Records.


Bell originally specialized in budget generic pop music, with the slogan "music for the millions". Originally sold on seven-inch 78rpm and 45rpm records for 39 cents (US), this style of music went out of fashion as rock and roll became more prevalent. Bell also issued sound-alike cover versions of hit records on 45rpm disks priced at 49 cents. One of these records were by "Tom & Jerry" who would later be famous using their real names Simon & Garfunkel. [] These records were pressed with polystyrene which had either glued-on labels or the label information was printed directly on the polystyrene. Some Bell and associated label 45rpm records were pressed that way into the 1970s. [] In 1959, Mala Records was formed as a subsidiary label, specializing in rock and roll as well as rhythm and blues.


In 1960, another subsidiary label, Amy Records was formed. In 1961, Larry Uttal purchased Bell, along with its Amy and Mala subsidiary labels, and folded his Madison Records into Bell. Early on, Uttal concentrated on the Amy and Mala labels, and rendered Bell dormant. The Bell label was revived in 1964, with a stylized "BELL" word mark shaped like a bell. In 1966, the company decided to issue all their albums, even for Amy and Mala acts, on the Bell label. Bell Records went on to issue several hit singles, including, "I'm Your Puppet" by James and Bobby Purify in 1966, "The Letter" by The Box Tops (the single on Mala, the album on Bell) in 1967, "Angel of the Morning" by Merrilee Rush & The Turnabouts in 1968, and "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin" by Crazy Elephant in 1969.

The three labels were merged into a single unit in 1969, retaining the Bell moniker. This company was then acquired by Columbia Pictures in 1969. Bell Records expanded when Columbia folded the assets of its RCA-distributed label, Colgems Records, into the newly purchased company. Uttal retained a portion of the company and remained as Bell's president. The expanded label issued recordings by The Partridge Family and Ricky Segall, and artists including The Fifth Dimension and Tony Orlando & Dawn. The merged label also adopted a new logo with a more readable Bell logo.


By 1970, the Bell label was more successful with pop music singles, and less successful with more lucrative pop music LPs. When Uttal left the company in 1974, Clive Davis, who had become a music consultant to Columbia Pictures, took over. Uttal then founded Private Stock Records. By late 1974, Davis would merge the various Columbia Pictures legacy labels (Colpix Records, Colgems Records, and Bell) into a new entity named Arista Records, ultimately buying a percentage of the company from Columbia. The very last releases by the company have the designation "Bell Records, Distributed by Arista Records, 1776 Broadway, New York, New York 10019." The final hit singles on the Bell label were "Mandy" by Barry Manilow (Bell 45,613, #1 US) and "Look in My Eyes Pretty Woman" by Tony Orlando and Dawn (Bell 45,620, #11 US). The more successful Bell albums were reissued on the Arista label.

Bell Records UK

The British branch was established in 1967. Previous British issues of Bell recordings were on EMI's Stateside Records. Bell Records in London was headed by Dick Leahy and distributed by EMI (In other foreign territories, Polydor handled distribution which later picked up British distribution.). Artists signed to them included the Bay City Rollers, Gary Glitter, The Piglets, and The Partridge Family with David Cassidy. Other artists on the label included Barry Blue, Barry Manilow, Terry Jacks, Hello, The Pearls and Harley Quinne, The Drifters, Showaddywaddy and the UK releases of The Box Tops. Bell UK also adopted the Arista name by 1976, although releases continued on the UK Bell label until 1982. []

Current ownership

The former catalog of Bell Records and its related labels is now owned by Sony BMG and managed by Legacy Recordings.

ubsidiary and associated labels

*Big Tree Records
*Philly Groove Records
*Aurora Records
*Mala Records
*Amy Records
*AGP (American Group Productions)
*Neighborhood Records
*Nite Life Records
*DynoVoice Records
*NewVoice Records
*Page One Records
*Carousel Records
*Rocky Road Records
*Windfall RecordsBell had three oldies reissue labels in its history. The first was Sphere Sound Records, established in 1965 which was replaced in the early 1970s by Bell Gold Records before the oldies label name was changed to Flashback Records (which continued after the Bell/Arista transformation).

Bell Records artists (1960s)

*Cilla Black
*The Box Tops (Mala, Bell)
*Crazy Elephant
*The Delfonics (Philly Groove)
*Lee Dorsey (Amy)
*Al Greene & The Soul Mates (Hot Line)
*Sonny Knight
*James & Bobby Purify
*Ronny & the Daytonas (Mala)
*Merrilee Rush & The Turnabouts (Bell, AGP)
*Syndicate of Sound
*Vanity Fare (Page One)

Bell Records artists (1970s)

*April Wine (Big Tree)
*Bay City Rollers
*Brownsville Station (Big Tree)
*David Cassidy
*Climax (Carousel, Rocky Road)
*Dawn (featuring Tony Orlando)
*Edison Lighthouse
*The 5th Dimension
*First Choice (Philly Groove)
*Gary Glitter
*Godspell (1971 Off-Broadway Cast)
*Terry Jacks
*Davy Jones
*Vicki Lawrence
*Lobo (Big Tree)
*Melissa Manchester
*Barry Manilow
*Partridge Family
*Suzi Quatro
*Rodney Allen Rippy
*Ricky Segall
*Labi Siffre (two singles, no albums)
*The Stampeders
*The Sweet
*Marlo Thomas
*Al Wilson (Rocky Road)

See also

* List of record labels
* Arista Records

External links

* [ The Bell/Amy/Mala story from Both Sides Now Publications]
* [ 1950s Bell 45rpm discography]
* [ 1960s Bell 45rpm discography]
* [ Vinyl Tap Records UK Bell discography, including later releases]

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