FLY RECORDS was established in June 1970 by independent music publisher David Platz. The label was originally based in the offices of ESSEX MUSIC (Dumbarton House, 68 Oxford Street, London W1) and is currently based in the offices of BUCKS MUSIC GROUP at The Roundhouse (Camden, London) and is managed by David’s son, Simon Platz.
Beginnings / pre-Fly·te
Starting in the early 1960s, David Platz set up production companies in association with record producers, to sign artists and groups with the aim of licensing their recordings to record labels. Key licensing deals were with
DECCA via their DERAM label; EMI via their REGAL ZONOPHONE, PARLOPHONE, and HARVEST labels; PHILIPS via their FONTANA and VERTIGO label; MCA and others
Hits included ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’; ‘Homburg’ (Procol Harum) and ‘I Can Hear The Grass Grow’, ‘Flowers In The Rain’, ‘Blackberry Way’, (The Move) and ‘One Inch Rock’ (Tyrannosaurus Rex).
At the dawn of the seventies David decided to set up an independent record label. Inaugurated in June 1970 as Octopus Records it was cobbled together in a rush to get the initial releases ready before the then Christmas cut off in October. On-the-fly was the modus operandi that triggered the change of the label name to Fly Records. Fly launched in October 1970 with its first release the T. Rex debut single ‘Ride A White Swan’ which peaked at number 2 in the UK singles chart thrusting Marc Bolan’s entry to Pop stardom. T Rex’s Fly album ‘Electric Warrior’ became both Bolan’s and the label’s first UK number one album which remains an all-time classic.
(From L to R: Nigel Haines / Malcolm Jones / Arthur Gorson / David Platz)
Instant pop success did not temper the intended eclectic nature of the label. Bonzo front man Vivian Stanshall, proto-punk band Third World War, John ‘He’s Gonna Step On You’ Kongos, chanteuse/actress Georgia Brown, TV theme composer John ‘Onedin Line’ Keating, singer/songwriter Richard Henry and classical guitarist John Williams were all signed to the label which remained notable as the home of T. Rex. Sprinkled amongst new releases were re-issues that had previously been released on Deram, Regal Zonophone, Harvest etc labels.
Fly’s hits included ‘Ride A White Swan’, ‘Jeepster’, ‘Get It On (Bang A Gong)’ & ‘Hot Love’ (T. Rex); and ‘He’s Gonna Step On You’ & ‘Tokoloshe Man’ (John Kongos); a re-issue of ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ (Procol Harum).
In May 1972 a new label manager announced Fly Records incorporation into CUBE RECORDS, with new albums and new singles from new artists Joan Armatrading, Harvey Andrews, Jimmy Helms, Angel and The JSD Band alongside re-issues of records previously released on either FLY or licensed labels (Budgie, Michael Chapman & Third World War).
Cube’s hits included ‘Gonna Make You An Offer’ (Jimmy Helms); and ‘Cavatina (Theme from ‘The Deer Hunter’) (John Williams).
The Electric Record Company
1976! In the midst of a changing musical landscape Cube’s latest label manager set up a fresh presence with The Electric Record Company label leaving the Cube Records imprint for back catalogue releases.
Electric’s many new artists included Marsha Hunt, Rupert Hine, Quantum Jump, Gordon Giltrap and Al Matthews.
With Electric’s defined image and label identity new artists who didn’t fit the Electric brand were licensed for release on other labels, such as The Pirates (Warner Brothers) and Rocky Burnette (EMI America).
Electric’s hits included ‘Lone Ranger’ (Quantum Jump) and ‘Heartsong’ (Gordon Giltrap) both of which benefitted from exposure as theme songs for popular television programmes, ‘Kenny Everett’s Video Show’ and the BBC’s ‘Holiday Show’ respectively.
Return to Cube Records
In 1980 Electric Records was wound down allowing Cube Records to re-emerge as the company’s record label. In a post-punk dawn of another new decade releases were increasingly linked to new publishing owned projects linked to Bucks Music whilst re-issues continued including rare tracks and remixes of earlier hits occasionally appearing on the then popular 12” disco 45 format, as befitted Jimmy Helms and John Kongos.
In the eighties Essex Music was embroiled in a protracted demerger and Cube’s record releases ceased, with catalogue recordings being licensed to catalogue re-issue labels.
Return to Fly Records
In 1988 David Platz transferred the recording masters, with the exception of T. Rex and Joe Cocker’s recordings, to his own company Onward Music Limited which is administered by Bucks Music. Another new decade and another change in the musical landscape. Utilising the label most revered by record buyers and music lovers David re-launched Fly with his son Simon and focussed on a new generation of artists and ‘tie-in’ projects predominantly related to television shows and celebrities. Catalogue releases during this period were licensed out to the emergent catalogue labels who were filling the higher capacity compact disc format with additional previously unreleased rarities and alternate versions of well-known tracks.
Since David’s death in 1994 Simon’s company Bucks Music Group administers the Onward Music catalogue. Fly releases regularly on digital platforms – where deeper archive treasures now get a spotlight, and irregularly on physical formats both on the Fly Records labels as well as under license to selected labels.
To hear and buy our releases go to our Releases page. Click an artist name and you’ll find links to various formats.
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Fly Records is managed by Onward Music Limited and administered by Bucks Music Group.
David set up production companies with record producers, with the record producer acting as the primary A&R person.
David Platz set up Onward Music Limited in April 1986 and following the demerger of Essex Music the company’s recording masters from Straight Ahead Productions (and New Breed) – excluding Tyrannosaurus Rex / T. Rex and Joe Cocker recordings, which remained with S-A-P – transferred to Onward Music Limited along with the record labels Fly Records, Cube Records and The Electric Record Company.
In early 1966 record producer Denny Cordell and David Platz set up a production company initially trading as New Breed. Denny quickly signed their first artist Beverley (Kutner nee Martyn) a young singer songwriter garnering attention on the folk circuit. Decca Records were keen to launch a new imprint to challenge EMI’s newly hip-i-fied Parlophone and Platz entered into an agreement with DECCA to provide recordings produced by Cordell to be released on their new ‘hip’ imprint DERAM. Beverley’s debut single ‘Happy New Year’ launched the label on both sides of the Atlantic. Cordell met and worked with Tony Visconti at a New York recording session and recommended Platz bring him to London and hire him to work for New Breed, which Platz agreed to. Tony began assisting Denny’s productions and arranging songs for Denny’s bands whilst Platz gave Tony new prpojects to produce himself.
Once Denny had delivered DERAM 1967’s fastest selling and most played single Procol Harum ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’ EMI were keen to woo Platz and Cordell away from Decca. Forming Straight Ahead Productions Platz negotiated a deal with EMI allowing him and Cordell complete control of EMI’s imprint Regal Zonophone for three years (1967-1970). They released 14 albums and 27 singles produced by Cordell and/or Visconti, including the first record to be played on BBC’s then new pop radio station Radio One; The Move’s ‘Flowers In The Rain’.
By 1970 Cordell had left S-A-P and moved to America and set up Shelter Records with Leon Russell. Platz decided the time was right to release recordings independently on his own label. Poaching Malcolm Jones from EMI Fly Records was launched in October 1970 breaking Marc Bolan and shooting his group T. Rex to superstardom.
David Platz set up Onward Music in April 1986 following the demerger of Essex Music in the mid 1990s, with recording masters from Straight Ahead Productions (and New Breed) – excluding Marc Bolan and Joe Cocker recordings which remained with S-A-P – transferred to Onward Music Limited along with the record labels Fly Records, Cube Records and The Electric Record Company.
Tarantula Productions was established in November 1967 initially as the overseas licensing company for Straight Ahead Productions, but when Fly Rceords was inaugurated in 1970 it became a production company entity for artists such as John Williams, Spring, Third World War, John Keating and Norma Tanega as well as for producers Stanley Myers, George Martin and Don Paul.
Tuesday Productions Ltd was established by David Platz and record producer Gus Dudgeon in May 1968 enabling Gus to produce artists for both Platz’s record label arrangement as well as having a free reign to produce recordings for release on other record labels. Although Gus’s legacy is synonymous with Elton John’s seventies hits Gus produced a number of underground acts such as Jim ‘Big Bear’ Simpson’s stable of Brummie acts; Bakerloo Blues Line (whose named was shortened to Bakerloo); Tea & Symphony; Locomotive and Earth (soon to be renamed Black Sabbath). Bakerloo and Tea & Symphony had releases leased to EMI’s Harvest label, which were leased to the leftfield Harvest Record label who also released Gus’s four Michael Chapman albums; ‘Rainmaker’; ‘Fully Qualified Survivor’ – which featured Michael’s friend guitarist Mick Ronson in what was his first commercial recording outing; ‘Window’ and ‘Wrecked Again’. Having recorded two tracks with Earth Gus told the band they weren’t ready for commercial release but his engineer Rodger Bain felt more empathy with the band and asked Gus to let him produce the band. Earth changed their name to Black Sabbath and Rodger produced their debut album obo Tuesday Productions.
When Tony Visconti declined to work on David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ track he and Platz suggested Gus. Gus knew Bowie, having worked with him as the engineer on his debut album, and leapt at the opportunity which gave both of them their first taste of a #1 hit single, and all time pop classic.
For Fly Records and Cube Records Tuesday / Gus produced releases for Joan Armatrading (her debut single and album) and John Kongos (two top 10 hit singles; ‘He’s Gonna Step On You Again’ and ‘Tokoloshe Man’).
Rodger and David Platz established Hummingbird Productions in December 1970, following on from Rodger’s work with Black Sabbath for Tuesday Productions. As with Tuesday, Hummingbird’s recordings were released via Cube Records (the JSD Band) or leased to external labels (Budgie’s first two albums) whilst allowing Rodger’s continued production success with Black Sabbath to continue in association with Tony Hall.
When Rodger left the company, Hummingbird was used for recordings by American producer Bill House and artist Rocky Burnette whose hit release ‘Tired of Toein’ The Line’ became an enduring anthem.
Established in May 1972 by Platz and producer Don Paul after Don had produced releases obo Tarantula Productions.
Don had started out as a songwriter before having a spell as an artist, releasing a single in 1968 co-written by another Platz published songwriter Tony McCauley.
Don also co-produced Billy Fury’s late sixties recordings alongside Tony Visconti, but it was Don’s work with Don Partridge that brought chart success. Paul had discovered Partridge busking in London and produced a string of Top 30 singles for him, including ‘Breakfast on Pluto’.
In the seventies Don produced Pete Atkin (the song writing partner of Clive James), television actresses Pauline Collins and Magee MacNamara. Most of One Way Productions material was leased to or commissioned by record labels, with Don producing a few singles for Cube Records in the seventies.
Noeland Productions was established in July 1972 as an overseas licensing company for Cube Records, but by 1976 it became a production company for various record producers who would mainly release records though the company record labels, Cube Records and later Electric Records.
Noeland productions furnished Cube Records with mainly single releases from a variety of artists such as glam-pop group Angel (produced by members of The Sweet); Ryder and The Jets. Producer John Worth produced pop/soul artists Jimmy Helms (Top 10 hit single ‘Gonna Make You An Offer’) and The Majestics (whose featured lead singer was a young kid called Clarke Peters, now famous as an acclaimed television and theatre actor) as well as progressive rockers Kestrel. Worth had a music legacy following songs rather than fads, fashion or genres varying almost as much as his pseudonyms. In the late fifties/early sixties John wrote number one hits for Adam Faith (‘What Do You Want?’) and Eden Kane (‘Well I Ask Ya’) as ‘Les Van Dyke’, whilst singing and recording for Emabssy Records as ‘Johnny Worth’; Embassy offered budget cover versions of popular hits of the day. A notable absurdity reflects John’s inability to conform in any way whatsoever; the 1964 classic (sic) ‘I’m Gonna Spend Christmas With A Dalek’ was performed by the The Go Gos, written by Les Van Dyke and produced by Johnny Worth and is to sixties pop singles what ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’ was to Hollywood. He remained an in-demand songwriter into the seventies with a string of hits for mainly middle of the road household name artists and even penned the British Eurovision Song Contest entry ‘Jack In The Box’, which gave Clodagh Rodgers a Top 5 hit.
When the Electric Record Company was launched Noeland provided many releases from Marsha Hunt to Salsoul band Cognac, with hits from Quantum Jump (Top 10 single ‘The Lone Ranger’ – which opened the second series of The Kenny Everett Video Show) and the Gordon Giltrap (Top 30 single ‘Heartsong’ which was used as the theme song for the BBC’s ‘The Holiday Show’).