Casablanca Records

infobox record label

parent = Universal Music Group
founded = 1973
founder = Neil Bogart, Cecil Holmes
distributor = Universal Records (in the US)
genre = Various
country = U.S.
url = [ Official website of Casablanca Records]
:"This article is about Casablanca, the record label. For other uses please see Casablanca (disambiguation)."

Casablanca Records is a record label which was started by Neil Bogart, who partnered with Cecil Holmes, Larry Harris and Buck Reingold, in 1973 after all of them left Buddah Records. The label released hits by Donna Summer, Lipps Inc., Brooklyn Dreams, KISS, Santa Esmeralda, Cher, Captain & Tennille, Angel, Fanny, The Sylvers, Cameo, Mac Davis, The Hudson Brothers, The Village People, and Parliament featuring George Clinton. The label's film division, Casablanca Filmworks, had hits with "The Deep" and "Midnight Express." PolyGram acquired a 50 percent stake of Casablanca in 1977 for $15 million; however, in 1980 Polygram pushed Bogart out due to accounting irregularities and poor label performance. Afterwards, the label had hits with Lipps Inc and Irene Cara. The label was shut down in 1984 with the artist roster and catalogue absorbed into Mercury Records.

In 2000, the name was revived for a joint venture between Universal Music Group and Tommy Mottola. In a "Billboard" [ article] , Mottola said that he chose the name as an homage to the original label, but that there was no direct connection between the old and new labels. Casablanca is now a part of Universal Motown Records Group.


In 1973 Neil Bogart formed Casablanca Records with money Warner Brothers put up. Originally he wanted to call the label Emerald City after the city in "The Wizard of Oz", but since Warner owned the rights to the movie "Casablanca", it was easier to get the rights to use that name, and much better for promotions (especially since he shared a surname with Humphrey Bogart, a star of the movie). The first single released by the label was Bill Amesbury's "Virginia (Touch Me Like You Do)." Neil Bogart's first big signing was the rock group KISS.

The independent label was put in a tenuous financial situation due to the release of a two-record set of audio highlights from "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson", "Here's Johnny: Magic Moments from The Tonight Show", in November 1974. The album was overpressed, and returns from retailers were high. KISS's breakthrough live album, "Alive!", although rumored to have been heavily overdubbed in the studio, was produced with a minimum amount of post-production due to lack of budget.

The label became very popular in the disco business, thanks to Donna Summer, who Bogart gambled with to save his record label. Warner Brothers and Bogart would have a tempestuous relationship as Bogart wanted more freedom to release records whenever he wanted and not according to a timetable, as was the case of the major labels. Bogart and Warner came to an agreement that Bogart on a monthly basis would pay back the money Warner had put into the company, which he did. After the split with Warner, the Casablanca office was moved to Sunset Boulevard in the former Gold Star Studios, where Herb Alpert recorded many of his early albums. Casablanca's office was soon modeled after the movie set of the same name.

The label was infamous for providing illegal drugs, prostitutes, and other questionable perquisites as incentives for some acts to sign up. Casablanca's rise and fall were both dramatic; the rise came after the success of "Saturday Night Fever" and the fall came soon after the movie disappointment "Thank God It's Friday" and Donna Summer's exit for Geffen Records. With only veteran acts like KISS and Parliament on his roster, Bogart still was able to negotiate a lopsided acquisition deal with Polygram for his remaining share right before the label's cash-flow problems peaked in 1979. He used the money to start an independent label, Boardwalk Records, and sign Joan Jett, but that label vanished soon after his death from cancer in 1982.

Casablanca's only notable releases after 1979 were the Robin Williams debut comedy LP "Reality, What A Concept!" (1981) and the soundtrack to "Flashdance" (1983).

2000 Relaunch

Mottola's re-launch was intended to be started with a girl-group, first known as "iNK", but later changing its name to "NSS(Not So Sweet)16". The group's original makeup was composed of Timna Perez and Alicia Respicio as well as Brittany King and Karla Murphy. Soon, however, Perez left the group, which prompted them to add Hannukkah Zertuche to fill in for the Latina component. A little while after that, due to some family issues King had to leave the group also, which prompted them to replace her with Jasmine Heriman. Soon afterwards, they recorded their debut single, "Oopdeewopdee", written by Greg Lawson, and Michael Anthony and featuring David Banner. Due to internal problems the group disbanded. The website however is still active, at [] and the "Oopdeewopdee" video can currently be seen on YouTube.

Mottola's all-female roster was reminiscent of the original Casablanca's Dreamland imprint from 1978-79.

Mottola's label has once again become dormant due to main acts Brie Larson and Lindsay Lohan moving on to other labels within the Universal family. The current site is [ still active] , but the site has not been updated since 2005.


* "Shall We Dance?" Soundtrack - 2004
* "Speak" - Lindsay Lohan - 2004
* "Pride & Prejudice" Soundtrack- 2004
* "Finally Out Of P.E." - Brie Larson- 2005
* "A Little More Personal (Raw)" - Lindsay Lohan - 2005
* "Life In Cartoon Motion" - Mika - Late 2006

Current artists

* Tamar Braxton
* Cory Gunz
* Mika
* Ryan Leslie (NextSelection/Casablanca/Universal Records)

Past artists

*Captain & Tennille 1980 ("Do That To Me One More Time"; they came from A&M Records and signed in 1980)
*Irene Cara ("What a Feeling")
*Cher 1979-1980 ("Take Me Home")
*Cameo (Biggest hits for the label were "Shake Your Pants", "Flirt", "Find My Way", "Why Have I Lost You". They were on Chocolate City Records, a division of Casablanca. They later moved to Mercury in 1983)
*Mac Davis
*Brooklyn Dreams (Best known for their duet with Donna Summer, "Heaven Knows"; two different versions appear on each of their albums. Joe "Bean" Esposito, lead singer of the Dreams, moved to Oasis Records. Bruce Sudano is married to Donna Summer)
*Hudson Brothers
*KISS 1973-1982 (Moved to Mercury Records)
*T.Rex 1974
*Brie Larson 2004-2006 (Moved to Universal Music)
*Ryan Leslie
*Lipps Inc (Number 1 single in 1980 was "Funkytown")
*Lindsay Lohan 2004-2006 (Moved To Motown Records)
*Love & Kisses (Thank God Its Friday, I Found Love)
*Meco (best known for the disco "Star Wars")
*Buddy Miles (was the drummer for Jimi Hendrix Band of Gypsy LP the last LP for Jimi in 1970. Buddy was signed to Mercury in the early 1970s; major hit album was "Them Changes". Then later signed with Casablanca; his hit was "Rockin' and Rollin' on the Streets of Hollywood")
*Stephanie Mills 1983-1984
*Peter Noone
*Parlet (girl version of Parliament. You hear their music in hip-hop samples)
*Parliament (hits include "Flashlight", "Give Up the Funk", "Aqua Boogie". Parliament spun off many groups as well which were signed to other major labels such as Zapp & Roger, Funkadelic; both on Warner)
*Larry Santos
*Santa Esmeralda (known for 2 cover songs like "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" and "House of the Rising Sun". Plus had a major slow song that has been covered for the past 30 years called "You're My Everything". Last major hit was "Another Cha Cha" in 1979)
*Dusty Springfield, 1982 album "White Heat"
*Donna Summer 1975-1979 Donna had 9 LPs with Casablanca plus a few soundtracks like "Thank God It's Friday", "The Deep", "Foxes" (Moved to Geffen, Mercury, Atlantic, Sony)
*Village People
*Robin Williams
*Pattie Brooks ("After Dark" was her major hit and she re-did the song in 2006)
*Teri Desario Biggest hit was "Yes, I'm Ready" feat. KC of KC and the Sunshine Band
*Alec R. Costandinos (Eurodisco producers for many acts like Don Ray, Loves & Kisses & many others)
*D.C. LaRue
*Dennis Parker
*Roberta Kelly (big hit was "Zodiac" and also sang background for Donna Summer)
*Sunshine (Donna Summer's background singers)
*Paul Jabara (singer-songwriter, wrote "Last Dance" and starred in "Thank God It's Friday")
*Four Tops 1981-1982 ("When She Was My Girl")
*Dr. Hook 1982 Signed when they left Capitol Records
*Tony Orlando 1979-1982

See also

* List of record labels
* Dazzler
* Chocolate City Records

External links

* [ Current site]
* [ Right On]
* [ "The Casablanca story" at]
* [ Releases at]

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