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Reprise was formed in 1960 by Frank Sinatra in order to allow more artistic freedom for his own recordings. Hence, he garnered the nickname "The Chairman of the Board." Having left Capitol/EMI, and after trying to buy Norman Granz's Verve Records, the first album Sinatra released on Reprise was Ring-a-Ding-Ding! As CEO of Reprise, Sinatra recruited a host of his cronies for the fledgling label, such as fellow Rat Pack members Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. The original roster from 1961 to '63 included Bing Crosby, Jo Stafford, Rosemary Clooney, Esquivel and stand-up comedian Redd Foxx. The label still issues any Sinatra work recorded while on the label and, after his death in 1998, it had great success with his greatest hits collections. "Two-tone orange" label used by Reprise during the Warner Bros.-Seven Arts merger from 1968 to 1969. (Label to Jimi Hendrix's Smash Hits). After the Kinney National Company took over Warner Bros. in 1969, the orange tone at the top of the label was changed to the same tone as on the rest of the label, the W7 box logo was removed and the circled :r logo became a boxed logo without "reprise" designation.
One of the label's founding principles under Sinatra's leadership was that each artist would have full creative freedom, and at some point complete ownership of their work; including publishing rights. This is the reason why recordings of early Reprise artists (Dean Martin, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks, etc.) are (in most cases) currently distributed through other labels. In Martin's case, his Reprise recordings were out of print for nearly 20 years before a deal was struck with Capitol Records.
Many of the older artists were dropped when Sinatra sold the label to Warner Bros. Records in early 1963 due to insufficient sales. Reprise president Mo Ostin was retained as the head of the label and he went on to play a very significant role in the history of the Warner group of labels over the next four decades. Warner-Reprise executives began targeting younger acts beginning by securing the American distribution rights to the Pye Records recordings by The Kinks in 1964. Reprise would later add teen-oriented pop acts like Dino, Desi & Billy and Frank's own daughter Nancy Sinatra, before moving almost exclusively to pop-oriented music in the late 1960's.
Through direct signings or distribution deals, the Reprise roster grew to include Lee Hazlewood, Jill Jackson, the early Joni Mitchell recordings, Neil Young, The Electric Prunes, Arlo Guthrie, Norman Greenbaum, Tom Lehrer, Tiny Tim, Ry Cooder, Captain Beefheart, the early 1970's recordings by Frank Zappa and The Mothers, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Nico's Desertshore, The Fugs, Jethro Tull, Pentangle, T.Rex, The Meters, John Cale, Gordon Lightfoot, Michael Franks, Richard Pryor, Al Jarreau and the early '70s recordings of The Beach Boys.
In 1976, the Reprise label was deactivated by Warner Brothers and all of its roster (except Frank Sinatra and Neil Young) was moved to the main Warner Bros. label. Although older catalog albums continued to be manufactured with the Reprise logo, and albums by The Beach Boys on Brother Records were issued in the Reprise catalog numbering sequence, aside from Sinatra and Young there were no new releases on Reprise for years.
In the summer of 1987 Warner Bros. Records chairman Mo Ostin and label president Lenny Waronker announced the reactivation of Reprise, including its own separate promotions department, and former Warner Bros. Vice President of Promotion Rich Fitzgerald was appointed as label Vice-President. Influenced by Michael Ostin and Benny Medina, Lenny Waronker and Mo Ostin decided to re-launch the label with a new artist also signed to Paisley Park, the label founded by Prince. Taja Sevelle, a Prince protege, was the first artist on the "new" Reprise, with her eponymous debut album also available on the then-new CD format. In the time since, Warner Bros. has often elevated the stature of Reprise to the rank of secondary parent label, as many of its subsidiary labels (such as Straight and Kinetic) have had their records released in conjunction with Reprise.
Today, in addition to Young, it is home to such artists as Devendra Banhart, Green Day, Michael Bublé, Enya, Mastodon, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Serj Tankian, Josh Groban, Charice, Cavo, Taking Back Sunday, HIM (also on Sire), My Chemical Romance and Disturbed. Reprise is also the North American label for British bands Depeche Mode and Oasis.