charisma on command
The Famous Charisma Label (Charisma for short) was a British record label founded in 1969 by former journalist Tony Stratton-Smith. He had previously acted as manager for rock bands such as The Nice, the Bonzo Dog Band and Van der Graaf Generator. Gail Colson was label manager and joint managing director.
The label’s most successful acts were Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Julian Lennon, and Monty Python. The initial release was the album The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other by Van der Graaf Generator. Stratton-Smith was unable to find a company to release the album, so he became determined to released it himself.
Charisma’s first UK label was a distinctive “pink scroll” design. Its second logo (used beginning in 1972) of Sir John Tenniel’s drawing of the Mad Hatter (sometimes combined with a montage of other images from Alice in Wonderland) made the label instantly recognizable. Much of the early distinctive artwork used by the label was created by Paul Whitehead.
The label also released material by The Nice, Lindisfarne and Alan Hull, Hawkwind, The Alan Parsons Project, Clifford T. Ward, String Driven Thing, Jack The Lad, Audience, Vivian Stanshall, Brand X, Sir John Betjeman, Malcolm McLaren and Afraid of Mice. 1970s solo albums of Peter Hammill, Tony Banks and Steve Hackett were also on Charisma.
Gail Colson left Charisma in the late 1970s to form her own management company, Gailforce.
In 1983, Charisma Records was acquired by Virgin Records and continued to operate until 1986, when Virgin absorbed the label following its purchase by EMI. A new version of Charisma, with no connection to the original label other than the name, operated between 1990 and 1992, with a street-oriented and independently distributed subsidiary called Cardiac Records. Some Charisma Records recordings were re-issued on the EMI label. In the UK, the label was revived by EMI’s Angel Records in 2007.
With the EMI purchase by Universal Music Group, Charisma returned to Virgin Records.