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The Philips record label was started in the Netherlands by Philips Phonographische Industries (PPI) in June 1950 when it began issuing classical 78 rpm recordings. Recordings were also made with popular artists of various nationalities and with classical artists from Germany, France and Holland.


The first British recordings on the label were produced by Norman Newell. These included three Winifred Attwell party hits and one hit by The Beverley Sisters ('I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus') until John Franz was appointed resident A&R Manager in 1955 - much the same time as Australian Leslie Gould took over as Managing Director of Philips Records.

The first batch of eight 78rpm singles released in January 1953 included British artists such as Johnny Brandon 'The Glow-Worm' (the very first release, numbered PB100); David Hughes, Gary Miller, Hermione Gingold, Gilbert Harding, Flanagan & Allen, Gracie Fields and Jean Carson, followed by American Columbia recording artists, Jo Stafford, Frankie Laine, Rosemary Clooney and Johnnie Ray.


The first single on the label to chart was Frankie Laine's rather lachrymose 'I Believe', which reached the number one position in the UK that April.


This licensing arrangement together with successful home grown product, quickly established Philips as a major record label. The company had a whole string of successes with Columbia’s repertoire over the coming years: many from Frankie Laine who went on to have 24 hit singles on the Philips label between 1953 and 1961; Guy Mitchell's 'Singin’ The Blues'; Johnnie Ray, 'Cry'; many releases by Doris Day including 'Secret Love'; Rosemary Clooney; Tony Bennett and Vic Damone - all of these recordings made the No. 1 spot in the UK, as well as hits from Dave Brubeck and the Percy Faith Orchestra. Show and film soundtrack albums such as 'West Side Story' and 'My Fair Lady' were also massive sellers initially released on Philips.


Other American record labels that were sold through the company included Caedmon, the New York based spoken word label; the prestigious Riverside jazz label and Audio Fidelity, a U.S. label specialising in extreme stereo sound recordings

The last Columbia U.S. singles and album product released on Philips (and Fontana) were issued in March 1962, after which all their American repertoire was then transferred to a newly created CBS 'orange' label.

Johnny Brandon with the first ever Philips single release, together with other artists who had records released on the Philips label in the first month of 1953.

Producer Johnny Franz routines a song with Shirley Bassey in late 1950s

Philips' first A & R man Norman Newell 

Philips Records moved to new and bigger premises at Stanhope House near Marble Arch during 1956 with their own recording studio in the basement.


Unfortunately, the Central Line tube ran underneath it and could occasionally be heard during recordings.

The recording studio was managed for some 25 years by Tom Stephenson who had previously worked at EMI as tape editor. He joined Philips in 1956 to set up the disc cutting operation in the UK. Both A&R men - John Franz for Philips and Jack Baverstock for Fontana, used the studio regularly and sessions would often go on all day and evening.

The chief recording engineer was Peter Olliff, alongside Roger Wake, Gary Moore - and later Steve Brown and Steve Lillywhite.

.....and M.D. Leslie Gould

Other record companies would also book the studio; in fact all of Sandie Shaw's recordings were made in the Philips studio as her manager Eve Taylor preferred the sound to that of Pye's studio across the road.


In 1983 the studio was sold to Paul Weller who managed it until 1991. 

    Stanhope House Studio, Marble Arch                      Scott Walker recording with Johnny Franz

Producer John Franz had previously worked in music publishing for Francis, Day & Hunter in Denmark Street London for 17 years and was piano-accompanist to many vocalists including Anne Shelton and Harry Secombe and he played regularly in night clubs in London in the 40's and 50's. He was blessed with perfect pitch and went on to routine and produce hundreds of singles and albums during his 22 years with Philips, developing a strong popular music roster for the company, signing acts that went on to have chart success such as Shirley Bassey, Frankie Vaughan, Anne Shelton, Harry Secombe, Ronnie Carroll, Robert Earl, Marty Wilde, The Springfields, Dusty Springfield, Susan Maughan, Scott Walker, The Walkers Brothers, The Four Pennies, Julie Rogers (for the company's Mercury label) and in the 1970’s, Peters & Lee.


There were also occasional releases from The Beverley Sisters, Matt Monro, Max Miller, Norman Wisdom, Dave Allen and June Whitfield. Franz was known to consume copious cups of tea and cigarettes at any time of day, but especially during recording sessions. He was proud of his Rolls-Royce which he bought from Harry Secombe, another successful artist of the 1950s and 1960s that Franz produced. Franz married his secretary Moira Creamer in 1966.

Throughout this time, he was ably assisted by his colleague Paddy Fleming, who worked expertly to promote the discs at BBC radio and television. Fleming made many long term friends at the BBC and served Philips well before he moved to CBS Records in 1973.


In the 1970s, Franz managed the recording career of Opportunity Knocks act Peters & Lee with successful singles and albums, but he died quite unexpectedly of a coronary problem in January 1977 at the age of 54. A memorial service was held at St. Martin-In-The-Fields.

Between 1953 and 1976, the Philips label had 29 number one hit singles. These included 'Lay Down Your Arms' recorded by Anne Shelton in 1956 which was initially banned by BBC Radio as it might have encouraged British troups to lay down their arms whilst serving in Cyprus during the time there was a conflict with EOKA. Eventually the ban was dropped. Frankie Vaughan had more hits on the Philips label than any other of their UK artists, achieving 26 Top 50 chart positions between 1955 and 1965. These included the original version of 'Green Door' and 'The Garden Of Eden' in the mid-1950s, as well as 'Tower Of Strength' reaching no. 1 in 1961. Shirley Bassey's recording career started with the 'Burn My Candle' in 1956 and a few years later she would have her first No. 1 single with 'As I Love You'.

Marty Wilde was another big record seller with 'Endless Sleep', 'Donna', 'Teenager In Love' and many others. This was followed by the Swingin' Sixties with a string of successful releases by Dusty Springfield (17 Top 50 UK hits), The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker and The Four Pennies. in 1969, Philips licensed a recording by Elton John from Dick James Music 'Lady Samantha'. It was the first disc released under his own name. Although just missing out on the number 1 slot, "Never Ending Song Of Love" was a huge hit by The New Seekers in 1971.

Dusty Springfield became one of the most important popular singers in the 1960's. Philips saw her transition from being a member of the Lana Sisters, through several hits with the folk group The Springfields, before launching her solo career in November 1963 with "I Only Want To Be With You".

A further sixteen hits followed which included her only number one: "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me". For more information on all Dusty Springfield's record releases, go to:-

Other artists issued on the Philips label not produced by Franz include six hit records from The Four Seasons, Nina Simone, Paul & Paula, The Singing Nun, Roger Miller, Esther & Abi Ofarim, David Bowie and Blue Mink; and in the 1970s, Lobo, Val Doonican, Lena Zavaroni, Bobby Crush, Stuart Gillies, Vicky Leandros and Demis Roussos.

After 1980, the Philips label became unfashionable in the UK and further releases were issued either on Mercury and occasionally Fontana.

Number One hits on the Philips label were:-

1953   I Believe *   Frankie Laine

1953   Look At That Girl *   Guy Mitchell

1953   Hey Joe *   Frankie Laine

1953   Answer Me *   Frankie Laine

1954   Such A Night *   Johnnie Ray

1954   Secret Love *   Doris Day

1954   This Ole House *   Rosemary Clooney

1954   Let's Have Another Party   Winifred Attwell

1954   Mambo Italiano *   Rosemary Clooney

1955   Stranger In Paradise *   Tony Bennett

1956   Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera) *   Doris Day

1956   Lay Down Your Arms   Anne Shelton

1956   A Woman In Love *   Frankie Laine

1956   Just Walkin' In the Rain *   Johnnie Ray

1957   Singing The Blues *   Guy Mitchell 

1957   The Garden Of Eden   Frankie Vaughan

1957   Rock-A-Billy *   Guy Mitchell

1957   Yes Tonight Josephine *   Johnnie Ray

1958   On The Street Where You Live *   Vic Damone

1959   As I Love You   Shirley Bassey

1961   Tower Of Strength   Frankie Vaughan

1964   Juliet   The Four Pennies

1965   King Of The Road   Roger Miller

1965   Make It Easy On Yourself   The Walker Brothers

1966   The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore   The Walker Brothers

1966   You Don't Have To Say You Love Me   Dusty Springfield

1968   Cinderella Rockefella   Esther & Abi Ofarim

1973   Welcome Home   Peters & Lee

1976   The Roussos Phenomenon (EP)   Demis Roussos

 * denotes Columbia U.S. repertoire 

Doris Day at a Philips Records reception for her at Claridges, the stagecoach door being held open by singer/comedian Dave King.

Johnny Franz with Dusty in Philips' Stud

On July 20th 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in spacecraft Apollo 11 landed and walked on the moon.


This historic event was broadcast live on TV to a world-wide audience and over that weekend, the sound recording was edited down to approximately 12 minutes from which an extended-play record was then issued, complete with wrap around sleeve depicting their landing and the 'giant step for mankind'.


Two days after the landing Philips had pressed, printed and distributed the record througout Britain.

Having previously recorded with Decca, but without commercial success and then been turned down by Apple Records, a deal was signed to release a single by David Bowie 'Space Oddity' on the Philips label, which became a big hit that summer. The single eventually reached number five in the UK singles chart in September 1969.

Master tapes were brought in by Calvin Lee for an album to be released in November '69, simply titled David Bowie to follow up on his single success. Bowie then gave a recital to Philips Records' staff in the boardroom at Stanhope House to introduce himself to the company.

A second album, The Man Who Sold The World was released a year later but by the following year, Bowie followed Marketing manager Olav Wyper to RCA and his contract switched to RCA Records.

(Interestingly, the single 'Space Oddity' was re-released by RCA Records in 1975 when it then made the no. 1 position in the charts.)

Johnny Franz with Dusty Springfield in Philips' studio

(L to R) Philips Product Manager David Shrimpton;  Record Producer John Franz; Managing Director A.J. Morris; Dianne Lee; Lennie Peters; Polygram Chairman Steve Gottlieb. Photo taken at presentation of Gold Disc for “Welcome Home” 1973

Philips 'Space Oddity' CV Press Release written by David Bowie in 1969.

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