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News: Elektra Records at 60

ElektraboxLast night in New York, Elektra Records celebrated 60 years of producing music with a panel discussion led by Patti Smith guitarist and journalist Lenny Kaye at the 92nd Street Y. The primary guest for the evening was label founder Jac Holzman, who worked as the creative head for Elektra and his international music offshoot, Nonesuch Records. Among the bands in Holzman’s crown are Judy Collins, The Doors, Carly Simon, Iggy & The Stooges, Queen, Jackson Browne and 10,000 Maniacs. Jackson Browne and Natalie Merchant were both there yesterday evening to answer questions about what it was like as an artist at Elektra during two very different times at the label, the late 60s and 80s. Both artists first signed to Elektra as teenagers, Browne at 17 and Merchant at 19.
One of the funnier stories told was the music experiments tried during the 60s, particularly, the Elektra Music Ranch, where Jac told the crowd “The dope bill was bigger than the food bill.” The ranch lasted less than a year (check out this great article about Jackson Browne and the ranch by Cameron Crowe). But it is stories like this that illustrate Elektra’s creedo, which Holzman summed up as a “commitment is to the artist, not the album.”

Of Elektra, Holzman said “It was a joy and a privilege to create,” a statement which shines through with all their releases from not only the music, but to the distinctive artwork- “I wanted elektra to not only have a sonic style but a visual style.” To finish-up the evening, Jackson Browne sang ‘Opening Farewell’ and then accompanied Natalie Merchant as she covered his song ‘These Days.’
Today, Elektra releases albums by artists like Little Boots, Cee-Lo Green, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Justice.

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