Buddah Records

Buddah Records
Parent company Sony Music Entertainment
Founded 1967 (1967)
Founder Art Kass
Artie Ripp
Hy Mizrahi
Phil Steinberg
Status Defunct
Distributor(s) Legacy Recordings (reissues)
Genre Various
Country of origin U.S.
Location New York City

Buddah Records (later known as Buddha Records) was founded in 1967 in New York City. The label was born out of Kama Sutra Records, an MGM Records-distributed label, which remained a key imprint following Buddah's founding. Buddah handled a variety of music genres, including bubblegum pop (the Ohio Express and the 1910 Fruitgum Company), folk-rock (Melanie), experimental music (Captain Beefheart),[1] and soul (Gladys Knight & the Pips).

In addition to the Buddah imprint, the company distributed many other independent labels, including Kama Sutra Records (after Kama Sutra cut their distribution ties with MGM in 1969), Curtom Records (Curtis Mayfield), T-Neck Records (the Isley Brothers), Charisma Records (Genesis, Monty Python), Sussex Records (Bill Withers), Hot Wax Records (Holland-Dozier-Holland post-Motown productions) and smaller subsidiaries.[2]


Kama Sutra Records helped bolster MGM Records' profits during 1965 and 1966, primarily due to the success of Kama Sutra's flagship artists The Lovin' Spoonful. Kama Sutra's head, Art Kass, ultimately grew dissatisfied with his distribution deal with MGM and started Buddah Records in 1967, with his Kama Sutra partners, Artie Ripp, Hy Mizrahi, Phil Steinberg, and (allegedly)[3] Italian mobster Sonny Franzese.

Kass brought in 24-year-old Neil Bogart to oversee Buddah's daily operations. Bogart had been an MGM General Manager in the early 1960s before taking a VP/Sales Director position at Cameo-Parkway Records. Bogart would quickly enlist Cameo-Parkway producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz, the Ohio Express (a band signed to Kasenetz's and Katz's Super K Productions firm), and ex-Cameo artists the Five Stairsteps into the new label. Buddah's first single was "Yes, We Have No Bananas"/"The Audition" by the Mulberry Fruit Band; the label's first album was Safe as Milk by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band. Kass and Bogart also brought along the promotion department of Cameo-Parkway, which was shutting down.[4]

Buddah initially made its mark as a bubblegum pop music label, with Ohio Express, the 1910 Fruitgum Company and Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus. However, it was The Lemon Pipers who gave Buddah its first No. 1 hit with "Green Tambourine," produced by Paul Leka, in February 1968.

The New York-area visual aids company Viewlex purchased a controlling interest in Buddah in 1968 with Ripp, Steinberg and Mizrahi departing the company at this time, leaving Kass and Bogart in charge.[5]

As bubblegum music's popularity declined at the turn of the decade, Buddah branched out into gospel, folk-country, and R&B. Bogart, a master promoter, would go to great lengths to generate hit singles for "top 40" radio airplay,[6] and got results; music industry historian Bob Hyde has estimated that, during their heyday, Buddah and its associated labels charted over 100 singles, with about one in five singles issued by the company charting (vs. the ratio of one chart hit to 20 singles released that most "major labels" experienced in that time period).[2] Hit singles released by Buddah and its associated labels during 1969-73 included:

While Buddah primarily focused on singles, several of its album releases, including Brewer & Shipley's Tarkio (1970), Bill Withers' Still Bill (1972), and Curtis Mayfield's Super Fly (1972), also charted well during this period.

Neil Bogart created and distributed Brut Records via Buddah Records for the Brut Fabergé company.

Bogart left Buddah in 1973 to start Casablanca Records. Soon after Bogart's departure, Gladys Knight & the Pips would emerge as Buddah's biggest success. Previously signed to Motown, Knight and the Pips would release their biggest hits, including "Midnight Train to Georgia" and "You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me," for Buddah.

Jazz session drummer Norman Connors became Buddah's musical director in 1976 and helped to foster the label's move toward R&B and disco (e.g., the Andrea True Connection's "More, More, More" (1976) and Chic's "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" (1977), the latter hit the charts on its subsequent re-issue by Atlantic Records). Viewlex declared bankruptcy in 1976 and Art Kass purchased Buddah back from them, but the debt[5] resulted in a substantial decline in the number of new releases. Arista Records took over distribution of Buddah from 1978 to 1983, with several artists, including Norman Connors and Phyllis Hyman, switching to Arista.

Buddah's final release of new product came in mid-1983, with Michael Henderson's R&B hit "Fickle" and the accompanying album of the same name. Kama Sutra's final issue came a year later, with the Fat Boys (formerly the We 3)'s self-titled single. Art Kass subsequently sold the label to Essex Entertainment, who managed the Buddah catalog until 1993, when they sold it to BMG. Kass would form another label, Casino Records, in partnership with former New York Dolls manager Marty Thau and concert promoter Terrell Braly, but this venture was not successful.

Buddah, now known as Buddha Records was re-activated by BMG in September 1998 as a reissue label, which was subsequently reorganized as BMG Heritage Records on January 1, 2002. The Buddah/Buddha catalogue is now owned by Sony Music Entertainment and managed by Legacy Recordings.

Subsidiary and affiliated labels

Buddah distributed many labels during its history, including the following:

Other Buddah subsidiaries or associated labels included Radio Active Gold (for reissue singles), Team, Super K, Royal American, Symbolic, Eleuthera, Ember, Pace, Desert Moon, Pi Kappa, Skye, Southwind, Thomas, Harbour, National General, and Brut.

Label design variations

Associated labels artists

The following artists released at least one recording for Buddah Records, or for one of Buddah's subsidiaries/distributed labels as noted in parentheses:

Compilation discography and Billboard chart peak positions

Hits by 1910 Fruitgum Company, Ohio Express, The Lemon Pipers, Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus, and Shadows of Knight
Tracks from Buddah, Kama Sutra and Curtom artists
Songs by the 1969 World Series Champions New York Mets (take note of the appropriately issued label number)
2-LP set of hits from 1953 to 1972. Original copies (with gatefold cover) include booklet and bonus 7" cardboard record "Inside Stories with Dick Clark" (reissues have none of the extras)
3-CD set of 45 tracks by various Buddah artists (1965–1984). Includes 28-page booklet with label history and photos


See also


  1. Gillett, Charlie (1996). The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll ((2nd Ed.) ed.). New York, N.Y.: Da Capo Press. p. 322. ISBN 0-306-80683-5.
  2. 1 2 "Hyde, Bob, The Kama Sutra/Buddah Records Story". Both Sides Now Publications. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  3. Dannen, Frederick (1990). Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Business, Random House, ISBN 0-8129-1658-1, p. 164.
  4. "And Party Every Day: The Inside Story Of Casablanca Records: Larry Harris, Curt Gooch, Jeff Suhs: 9780879309824: Amazon.com: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
  5. 1 2 Dannen, p. 166.
  6. Dannen, p. 165.
  7. "The Rapper Songfacts". Songfacts. Retrieved 2008-07-10.

External links

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