Los Angeles-based Retropolis Entertainment, the company formed by former Rhino
principals Richard Foos and Robert Emmer, has made its first foray into music
catalog acquisitions with the purchase of Biograph Records for an undisclosed price.
The Somerville, MA- based company is known for its thoroughly researched releases
in blues and jazz. Retropolis plans to maintain the label and honor all distribution
commitments in place.The catalog is handled domestically by Burnside Distributors.
Biograph was founded in 1967 by Arnold Caplin, and has produced over 225 albums
and has over 50 CDs currently in production. Notable recordings include Reverend
Gary Davis, Skip James, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, Scott Joplin, Eubie Blake,
Blind Willie McTell, Son House, Stan Getz, Art Farmer, Johnny Shines, Zoot Sims
and scores of others.
“We’re delighted that Biograph is now
part of Retropolis,” Foos noted. “What Arnold and Alan Caplin have accomplished
over the years very much mirrors our philosophy of marketing great music by
it with reverence and scholarship.”
Alan Caplin, son of founder Arnold Caplin, commented, “We’re happy to be putting
company we built over the past 35 years in the capable hands of Richard, Bob
and their organization. We’re convinced that Biograph’s legacy will be preserved
enhanced under their stewardship.”
Emmer remarked, “Retropolis has hit the ground running with the purchase of
Biograph. We’re looking forward to adding to our portfolio in the very near future
this is an auspicious start, to say the very least.”
Biograph has the rights to produce albums
from the QRS Music Roll Company’s extensive piano roll catalog, including those of
Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton and Scott Joplin, “The King of Ragtime.” In fact,
Biograph has the world’s largest collection of piano roll music on CD. Also notable
the direct to digital process used to transfer these historic piano rolls to CD.
Also part of Biograph’s assets are the Melodeon, Center, Regal and Dawn labels.
Skip James’ Biograph material was sourced from Melodeon; from Center came
Orleans’ George Lewis, “Big” Jim Robinson and others; Regal provided Blind Willie
McTell, Memphis Minnie, Little Brother Montgomery and others. The Dawn
includes classic jazz from Zoot Sims, Stan Getz, Art Farmer and others. Reverend
Gary Davis and Johnny Shines recorded directly for Biograph, as did scores of
notable blues and roots artists.