Ember Records was the name of two record labels of the 1950s and 1960s, one American and one British.
British Ember Records
1950s to 1960s
In the late 1950s, the eccentric avid jazz fan Jeffrey Kruger, owner of the famous Flamingo Jazz Club, was looking for a new challenge. At the time, the British music industry was largely dominated by four major record labels who, thanks to the lack of a national popular music radio station, found it easy to dominate the airwaves by buying slots on Radio Luxembourg. Therefore, the only way independent record labels could achieve success was by concentrating on specialist genres.
Kruger realised that considerable success could be gained if, rather than focusing on one specific musical genre, he instead focused on a plethora of them. Releases under the jazz, pop, R&B, beat, soul, rockabilly, and other genres followed and Kruger started to establish Ember as a major independent force in the UK. As Kruger explains:
The first major achievement and breakthrough for the label came when Kruger realised the British music fan's thirst for American music, and though the five major labels dominated the best licensing deals the US had to offer, some hot American independents did not yet have a presence. Kruger flew out to the US and did deals with, amongst others, 20th Century Fox (a major coup for an independent at the time), Sam Phillips, Harry Simeone Chorales Onward Christian Soldiers label and Syd Nathan, boss of King and Federal Records in Ohio.
As Kruger recalls:
Becoming the first British label to set up its own distribution and pressing facilities helped Ember cement their place in the industry. By 1963, Ember had built up a roster of UK artists such as Matt Monro, The Dale Sisters, Grant Tracy and The Sunsets, and the talented duo John Shakespeare and Ken Hawker (recording as Carter, Lewis & The Southerners). The next big break came when composer, producer and arranger John Barry left EMI to join Kruger. During his time with Ember, he scored hits with pioneering folk duo Chad Stuart & Jeremy Clyde and, if rumour is to be believed, Christine by Miss X (Joyce Blair).
As the decade wore on, the label continued to release records from across the musical spectrum, from film and TV themes such as The Liars (which established a young Nyree Dawn Porter) through to the noted soul 45s for which the label became renowned. These featured acts such as The Casinos, The Checkmates and Lou Lawton, Stax hitmakers The Bar-Kays, King Curtis and The Pac-keys.
On the recommendation of John Abbey, who set up the subsidiary soul label Speciality where some of those previous releases first appeared, Kruger gave a debut to the man who would go on to become Embers biggest hit: Glen Campbell. Despite a considerable investment from Kruger however, they, initially at least, struggled to achieve success.
It was around this time that the label became the first British independent label to have three of its singles at the top of the American charts.
1970s to present
As Ember moved into the 1970s it put out successful releases by the likes of Julie Rogers and Susan Maughan, and, through the release by Avengers actress Linda Thorson, the label proved, as they had with Twiggy years earlier, that she could have as much success in front of the microphone as she subsequently had away from it.
In 1979, after Kruger had continued to put an impressive number of soul releases by artists such as Ed Robinson, Tony and the Tyrones and golden oldies such as Gladys Knight, as well as new albums by PJ Proby and Johnny Otis, the label, essentially becoming a victim of its own success, was wound down. By this stage Kruger was involved with a number of other businesses in the music industry, not least becoming one of Europes leading concert promoters, and felt he could no longer dedicate the time to the label that he felt it deserved.
In 2009, Fantastic Voyage, a subsidiary of the Future Noise record label, started releasing a series of albums focused on the various genres Ember had promoted. This was to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the first Ember release and the thirtieth Anniversary of the last.
American Ember Records
Among the artists on the American label were the Five Satins, who recorded "In the Still of the Night".
- Herald/Ember/Muse Album Discographies. Bsnpubs.com (1997-11-05). Retrieved on 2011-03-13.
- Say When: Ember 60s Pop, Vol. 1 - Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards. AllMusic. Retrieved on 2014-01-31.