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The label which is most famously associated with The Beatles and the 60s Merseybeat boom began life in Germany before the First World War as a Classical label. It was launched by Carl Lindstrom, and his use of the German letter 'L' as a logo reputedly led to the label's famous £ trademark.

The label was part of the Columbia Gramophone company before the foundation of EMI in 1931, when it took its place alongside the HMV and Columbia labels. The major Parlophone releases were American Jazz recordings (including Louis Armstrong's first UK releases), British dance bands and a selection of comedy and novelty records featuring the likes of Charlie Drake and Peter Sellers until the late 50s, when they were joined by new British talent like Adam Faith, The Temperence Seven and Matt Monro. When The Beatles were signed by label chief and producer George Martin in 1962, a roster emerged featuring Cilla Black, Billy J. Kramer, and The Hollies. After an argument with EMI over royalty payments on his Beatles recordings, Martin, who produced over 20 No.1s for Parlophone, left in 1966. The label continued with producer/artist Norman 'Hurricane' Smith and issued late 70s/early 80s albums by Lennon and McCartney.

In the 80s, chart-toppers like Duran Duran, Dexy's Midnight Runners and Pet Shop Boys appeared on Parlophone, then EMI stalwarts Queen joined Morrissey and Paul McCartney on the label, alongside new, successful 90s acts Blur, Radiohead, Supergrass and Mansun.

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