We have named this series Poly… because of the various incarnations of the company.
Dutch electrical giant Philips was behind the various Poly… iterations for the most part. Phillips had had operations in Australia since 1926 when it began manufacturing radios. Two years later it entered the recording business in Europe. A recording division, based in Sydney, was established in the late 1950s – although it appears most of the Australian artists were recorded in New Zealand. Soon after (1960) the parent company acquired the Mercury label. They acquired Chappell Music Publishing in 1968 and in 1969 launched a new subsidiary label, Vertigo. They also pressed and distributed their other imprints such as German based Polydor, and the British Fontana.
In 1972 the various international divisions were consolidated under the Polygram umbrella. This included the acquisition of the German Siemens music division.
From about 1970 there were a couple of compilations released on the Polydor label, but these don’t seem to contain any Australian artists. The first of the Ripper series, was released in 1975 with the Fontana label, then Whopper on the Polygram label.
From about 1976 the Polystar branding took over, and lasted through the 1980s, and perhaps into the early 1990s. Unfortunately, the numbering is quite random, so it difficult to place issues with each year. These were pressed by Festival and WEA.
In 1998, amid speculation that the group would collapse, Philips undertook a major restructuring of the group. This resulted in parent company Polygram being sold to Canadian beverage corporation Seagram for US$10 billion. Seagram then merged Polygram with Motown and its other music interests to create the Universal Music Group. In 2000 Seagram was acquired by Vivendi for US$34 billion, becoming Vivendi Universal. In 1999, the Philips classical record division was merged with Decca Records to create the Decca Music Group (known as Universal Music Classics Group in the USA).
We are continuing our research on the history of the company in Australia.