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Walt Disney Records

Walt Disney Records
Walt Disney Records logo.svg
Parent companyDisney Music Group
FoundedFebruary 4, 1956; 66 years ago (1956-02-04) (as Disneyland Records)
Distributor(s)Universal Music Group
GenreVarious, predominantly Pop and Soundtrack
Country of originUnited States
Location500 S. Buena Vista Street,
Burbank, California

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 Disney Legend Jimmy Johnson who convinced Walt Disney’s brother Roy O. Disney that Walt Disney Productions (now The Walt Disney Company) should form their own record label. It adopted its current name in 1989 for the flagship Disney Music Group label and is distributed by Universal Music Group.


Disneyland Records was predicated by non-soundtrack audio material based on Davy Crockett miniseries from the Disneyland anthology television series, along with the song, "The Ballad of Davy Crockett," both featuring series star Fess Parker. These were licensed to Columbia Records, but the smaller Cadence Records label released the more successful "Ballad of Davy Crockett" sung by Bill Hayes faster, and this was the record that topped the charts instead. The following year, Disney saw profits for Mickey Mouse Club records in the millions being shared with Golden Records and ABC Records, finally convincing Roy to allow Johnson to start the in-house Disneyland Records.

Disneyland Records

Disneyland Records logo

The company was founded as Disneyland Records on February 4, 1956, with Jimmy Johnson as president, serving as the recorded unit of Walt Disney Productions. Johnson brought in musician Tutti Camarata to head the Artists and Repertoire department of this new enterprise.One ten-inch LP with the "Disneyland" imprint had been released a few months earlier, a musical version of A Child's Garden of Verses, but it was distributed by the Charles Hansen music publishing company. The very first Disneyland Record produced, manufactured, marketed and distributed by the label was Walt Disney Takes You to Disneyland, the only album Walt had ever recorded especially for his own record company. Also 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. 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 staff but under Roy O. Disney's suggestion, established his own full-service recording studio where most of Disney and Buena Vista's records were recorded, mixed, engineered, cut and mastered, the Los Angeles landmark, Sunset Sound. In effect he was associated with Disney until the early seventies. Disneyland Records started its read-along series in 1965 with singer/actor Robie Lester performer appearing on more titles than any other in the history of the label.[1]

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

See also

This page was last updated at 2022-09-19 05:05 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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