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Mercury Records
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Mercury Records

Mercury Records was a record label founded in Chicago, Illinois in 1945 by Irving Green, Berle Adams and Arthur Talmadge. They were a major force in jazz and blues, classical music, rock and roll, and country music recordings.

Early in their history, Mercury opened two pressing plants, one in Chicago and the other in St. Louis, Missouri. With the use of automatic presses and providing 24-hour turnaround, they went into direct competition with major recording labels such as Columbia, Decca, and RCA Victor.


Mercury Record sleeve artwork, c.1950
By hiring two promoters, Tiny Hill and Jimmy Hilliard, they penetrated the pop market with names such as Frankie Laine, Vic Damone and Patti Page.

The company released an enormous number of recordings under the Mercury label as well as its subsidiaries (Blue Rock, Cumberland Records, Emarcy, Fontana, Limelight, Phillips, Smash, and Wing). In addition, they leased and purchased material by independent labels and redistributed them.

Under their own label, Mercury released all kinds of recordings from classical music to psychedelic rock. However, its subsidiaries focused on their own specialized categories of music.

In 1961 the Dutch company, Philips, signed an exchange agreement with Mercury, and Philips subsequently bought Mercury and its subsidiary labels to expand its US base. In 1962 Philips merged its record operations with Deutsche Grammophon to become PolyGram in the early 1970s.

See also