The Dark Horse Label was found in May 1974 by George Harrison himself. The company would be survived by distributors like A&M Records (1974-1976), Warner Bros. Records (1976-1992), and Parlophone/EMI Records (2002-2004).
The Beatles were legally binded together as business partners and contracted to EMI records till 26 Jan, 1976. The group had decided on creating their own company in 1967 called, Apple Corps which produced many products and from; Apple Electronics, Apple Films, Apple Publishing, Apple Records, Zapple Records, Apple Retail, and Apple Studio. Many artist got their start at The Beatles Apple studios, like Badfinger, who Paul had written "Come and Get It" for, Billy Preston, and more. During 1973, George and Ringo even considered buying Apple all together, but didn't do to the worry of the company. Well, the contract was coming to an end with The Beatles and their second manager Allen Klein, during this time George had already started his new label, Dark Horse, in 1974, after signing with A&M records on 15 May, 1974 and were going to produce his own records on his label from 1976 on.
Before signing with A&M, George had gone to other companies, for instance going to see David Geffen, head of Asylum Records. In 1974, George signed with A&M Records who distributed Dark Horse records throughout the world. This was just the start of Dark Horse.
The name Dark Horse had came from George Harrison's song with the same name. The design of the seven-headed horse came from a tin box George had seen on one of his trips in India, the Unchchaisrauas is from Indian Art and myth. The start of Dark Horse started with it's first employee, Jonathon Clyde, who joined in June 1974 and was appointed director of marketing, promotion, and A&R in Britain and Europe. From there other employees joined like, Elane Corlett, who became Administrative manager in December of 1974. Dark Horse started with signing people like, Ravi Shankar, a good friend of George Harrison's. In 1976, George was free to record with whoever he wanted, and decided to let out his first album with the Dark Horse label, which lead to major problems with A&M Records.
George's first album was due to be given to A&M by 26 of July, 1976; the album was never delivered. Instead the company found out that Dark Horse had made arrangements to have the album artwork delivered to Warner Bros. Records. It was the 18 September, 1976 that Dark Horse left A&M and joined a contract with Warner Bros. 26 September A&M Records filed a report for a $10 million lawsuit to end it's partnership with the Dark Horse Label. A $150,000 addition was added to the lawsuit for not giving A&M the first album. A&M then claimed that they spent $3 million international operation for Dark Horse from the two years they were together. The lawsuit was settled with George Harrison paying a total of $4 million.
Warner Bros. Records and the Dark Horse Label had developed a strong relationship, staying together since 1976- 1992, producing George's records along with other artists who benefited from the label. With Warner Bros. Records, George had produced albums like Thirty Three & 1/3, also other works like The Traveling Wilburys Volume I and Volume III. It was in 1992 that George Harrison had decided to retire from the music industry (he would later return to record his last album, Brainwashed).
|George's Home studio|
The Dark Horse Label itself was very unique, including recordings for the label taken place in George's home studio in Friar Park. Many artist were signed with the company like, Ravi Shankar, Attitudes (LA Band), Splinter, The Stairsteps (Chicago Soul Group), Keni Burke (from The Stairsteps), Jiva (California Group), and Henry McCullough (original member of Paul McCartney and Wings, and guitarist for Joe Cocker).
In 2002 Parlophone/EMI had released George's last album, a year after his passing, Brainwashed. Also, in the 2004 a George Harrison: Dark Horse Box-set was released on behalf of Parlophone. The following video is George Harrison's "Dark Horse"