American record label of the Disney Music Group
Walt Disney Records is an American record label of the Disney Music Group. The label releases soundtrack albums from Disney’s motion picture studios, television series, theme parks, and traditional studio albums produced by its roster of pop, teen pop, and country artists.
The label was founded on February 4, 1956 as Disneyland Records. Before that time, Disney recordings were licensed to a variety of other labels such as RCA, Decca, Capitol, ABC-Paramount, and United Artists. It was Walt Disney’s brother Roy O. Disney who suggested that Walt Disney Productions (now The Walt Disney Company) should form their own record label. Roy enlisted longtime staffer Jimmy Johnson to head this new division. It adopted its current name in 1989 for the flagship Disney Music Group label and is distributed by Universal Music Group.
Disneyland Records was conceived by Roy O. Disney in 1954 for material from Davy Crockett miniseries on the Disneyland anthology television series. The “Ballad of Davy Crockett”, along with three audio only episodes, were to be the initial material for the record company, but his brother company founder Walt Disney decided that they could not ramp up quickly enough. Instead the label was used for a licensed Columbia Records release of the Ballad to TV and radio stations in December 1954. With the record’s success, they moved forward with the formation of the record company.
The company was founded as Disneyland Records on February 4, 1956, serving as the recorded unit of Walt Disney Productions. Both Walt and Roy asked their longtime worker Jimmy Johnson to head the division. The Disneyland company issued its first (LP) album, A Child’s Garden of Verses. Jimmy Johnson brought in musician Tutti Camarata to head the Artists and repertoire of this new enterprise. In the first year, seven Disney animated movie soundtracks were issued by the company.
Disneyland Records issued Parker’s “Wringle Wrangle” single from the Westward Ho the Wagons! film with in a year of starting operations; the single became a hit. This led the company to start recording music from outside the films. However, what ever was released by the company the industry categorized as children. Pricing was directed towards an adult audience, which was more than standard children fare. The only outside success was Camarata’s album “Tutti’s Trumpets”. Thus in 1959, the Disneyland label became the soundtrack and children’s label and Buena Vista label for the occasional pop song record.
Camarata established the label’s initial forays into long-form musical albums, which included jazz interpretations of Disney standards from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, and Cinderella, as well as original musical concept albums, and he expanded the format of soundtracks by including selections from the score as well as the songs.[clarification needed] Tutti’s connections within the music industry also brought to the label the likes of Mary Martin, Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima, Jerry Colonna, and Phil Harris. It was also Tutti’s idea that the popular Mouseketeer, Annette Funicello, become the label’s first artist in residence. In 1959, the Buena Vista Records label was formed for Funicello’s select recordings and for the release of soundtrack albums and other contemporary music.
While looking for the right material for Annette, Tutti and his team discovered the songwriting duo of Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman after hearing one of their songs on the radio. The two were brought to the Disney studio in Burbank where they eventually became the first staff songwriters for the company. They not only penned a good deal of Annette’s songs, but were also responsible for most of the iconic Disney songs of the 1960s and beyond – “It’s a Small World” and “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room” for the theme parks, as well as the songs from Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, The Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day and Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
In 1960, Camarata left the company. The dual label company started its read-along series in 1965.
By 1971, Disneyland Records was also called Disneyland/Vista Records. Also, A Child’s Garden of Verses was still in their line. Disneyland/Vista worked with Rankin/Bass to release six recording tied to The Hobbit 1977 animated film as Rankin/Bass had Disneyland/Vista do soundtrack for two of their earlier holiday specials, Frosty’s Winter Wonderland and ’Twas the Night Before Christmas.
The company was so successful with its Mickey Mouse Disco album that Disneyland looked to expand again into pop music by October 1980. Its success also lead to the issuance of animated theatrical shorts based on songs from the album. Two such original productions were “That Waddlin’ Crazy Guy” and “Partners”.
Walt Disney Records
In 1989, Disneyland Records was renamed Walt Disney Records.
About 1990, Walt Disney Records signed several youth targeted acts like Parachute Express and Norman Foote. Disney let these act go after several years as their mandate was changed to support the animated features, produce book and tape packages and compilations to take advantage of the catalog.
In May 2000, Walt Disney Records signed the label’s first teen singer, Myra; her first single with the label, “Magic Carpet Ride”, was released May 23, 2000 as a part of La Vida Mickey album.
On June 24, 2014, Walt Disney Records started releasing The Legacy Collection. The series includes original soundtracks, as well as unreleased music, and composer and producer liner notes. The collection includes 14 albums ranging between various anniversaries of various Disney films and Disneyland.
With Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm on December 21, 2012, it became the official label for the studio and all Star Wars-related soundtracks, beginning with The Force Awakens soundtrack on December 18, 2015. In January 2017, Disney acquired the distribution rights to the entire Star Wars music catalog from Sony Classical; the soundtrack albums from the first six films were then released by Walt Disney Records in digital formats the same day. Disney digitally remastered and reissued the original Star Wars soundtrack albums in physical formats on May 4, 2018.
Starting with Ron’s Gone Wrong on October 15, 2021, Walt Disney Records limited to the release of soundtracks from the 20th Century Studios animated feature films.
- Notable soundtracks
- Album series
- “Universal Music Group (UMG) & Disney Music Group (DMG) Expand Agreement Globally,” PR Newswire, March 20, 2013.
- Newman, Melinda (May 13, 2021). “Like the Stars It Launched, Hollywood Records Has Grown Up, Too”. Billboard Magazine. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
- Johnson, Jimmy (March 27, 1971). “The Disneyland Records Story”. Billboard. p. D-2. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- “Studio Entertainment”. Our Businesses. The Walt Disney Company. Archived from the original on March 12, 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
- Smith, Dave (1998). Disney A to Z – The Updated Official Encyclopedia. p. 593.
- Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (March 16, 1959). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 26. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
- “Salvador Camarata, 91, Music Arranger, Is Dead”. The New York Times. Associated Press. April 19, 2005. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
- Ehrbar, Greg (December 17, 2013). ““The Hobbit” on Disneyland Records”. Cartoon Research. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
- Culhan, John. Will the Video Version of Tolkien Be Hobbit Forming? The New York Times, Nov 27, 1977.
- Sippel, John (October 25, 1980). “Disneyland Label going into Pop”. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
- McCormick, Moira (June 24, 2000). “Disney’s 1st Teen Signing, Myra, Is Aimed At An Older audience”. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
- “Disney Signs First Teen Pop Act Myra”. MTV News. May 19, 2000. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
- Grisham, Lori (May 7, 2014). “Walt Disney Records to release legacy collection”. USA Today. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
- “Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson, Jordan Fisher, Auli’i Cravalho, and Oscar®-Winning Composer Michael Giacchino to Meet Fans at the Disney Music Emporium During D23 Expo 2017, July 14–16” (Press release). PR Newswire. Burbank, California. May 23, 2017. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
- “Star Wars: A New Hope (original Motion Picture Soundtrack) 3-LP Vinyl Album Boxed Set Of Composer John Williams’ Oscar®-Winning Score To Be Released On December 1” (Press release). PR Newswire. November 7, 2017. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
- “Disney Music Group Set To Release First 6 Remastered Star Wars Original Motion Picture Soundtracks On May 4”. Burbank, California: Walt Disney Records. PR Newswire. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
- “Armin van Buuren, Avicii tapped for Disney remix album”. Los Angeles Times. March 12, 2014. Retrieved December 15, 2017.