Created by Bob Kaus and Mark Leviton
Founder and Chairman: Jac Holzman 1950 – 1973
On October 10, 1950, Elektra Records was born in 19-year-old Jac Holzman’s college dorm room. For the next 23 years, Holzman nurtured Elektra into an iconic, eclectic, and much-revered label, guiding it from an early mix of traditional folk, ethnic music, and blues into a golden age of contemporary folk, rock, and pop artistry. During this fertile period, he also branched into classical and world music with the founding of the Nonesuch label. Elektra both reflected and shaped a culture in the throes of revolution, and the roster of artists Jac brought to his label is a time capsule of an era of enormous change, challenge, and promise.
The Incredible String Band
Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Chairman: David Geffen 1973 – 1975
In 1973, Jac Holzman handed the reins of his company to David Geffen, who merged Elektra with the Asylum label he had founded two years earlier. Having begun his career as an artist manager, Geffen continued to foster Elektra’s artist-centric culture by signing the cream of the singer-songwriter crop, with a special focus on the blossoming Southern California scene.
Chairman: Joe Smith 1975 – 1982
When Geffen left Elektra in 1975 to move into the movie business, Joe Smith – then President of sister label Warner Bros. Records – shifted over to become the new Chairman of Elektra/Asylum, now based in California. Reflecting the explosive growth of the music “industry,” Smith oversaw the expansion of Elektra from its indie roots into a much larger enterprise, while adding country, new wave, and jazz.
Grover Washington, Jr.
Hank Williams, Jr.
Chairman: Bob Krasnow 1983 - 1994
With Joe Smith leaving the company to enter sports management, Warner Bros. talent exec (and Blue Thumb label founder) Bob Krasnow was recruited to run Elektra/Asylum/Nonesuch. Under his leadership, Elektra relocated its base back to New York and entered its second golden era, marked by a return to a smaller roster, career development, and a successful eclecticism that saw Elektra’s first major push into R&B and an increased focus on global artists.
They Might Be Giants
Chairman: Sylvia Rhone 1994 – 2004
In the wake of a corporate restructuring, Bob Krasnow left Elektra in 1994. Sylvia Rhone, who had worked her way up through the ranks at both Elektra and Atlantic and had been running the latter’s Atco/EastWest division, became the first African-American woman to be named chairman of a major label. Putting her own stamp on the company, she continued Elektra’s folk, rock, and R&B traditions, while putting the label on the hip-hop map.
Better Than Ezra
Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott
Third Eye Blind
Label Heads: John Janick and Mike Caren 2009 –
In 2004, it was decided that Elektra should take a sabbatical until bright new talents could be found to rebirth the iconic label.
Five years later, Elektra re-emerged under Atlantic A&R executive Mike Caren and John Janick, founder of the prominent indie label, Fueled By Ramen. As Jac Holzman said upon the label’s relaunch, “Each new label head has reverentially built on the accomplishments of his predecessor, zealously guarding Elektra’s magical reputation. I’m fortunate to have yet another chance to watch Elektra bloom.”
Cee Lo Green