Today in Rock History: Geffen Records is Born



geffenThis day in 1980 saw the birth of one of the more formidable record labels of the ’80s and ’90s. Geffen Records was born, and on the same day, they made a splash by signing John Lennon to a record deal. The first two albums Geffen released got the label off to a pretty impressive start — Donna Summer’s The Wanderer and Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy.

Geffen Records boasted an impressive roster of star acts, including Elton John, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, Jimmy Page, Don Henley, Debbie Harry, and Cher. But it wasn’t until the mid- to late ’80s that Geffen really made their mark.

1986 saw Geffen release memorable albums in Peter Gabriel’s So and Slayer’s Reign in Blood, then things blew up in 1987 with the release of Guns n’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction. The resurrection of Aerosmith began to hit its stride that year as well as Geffen released the band’s Permanent Vacation album.

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Guns N’ Roses dominated the rock scene for a few years, then everything changed in 1991 with Geffen’s release of Nirvana’s Nevermind. Throughout the 1990s, Geffen also released albums from Beck, Sonic Youth, Weezer, and Hole, as well as more albums from Nirvana, Aerosmith, and Guns N’ Roses, among others.

Geffen Records began to fade away in the years to come as it was absorbed into Interscope Records. Former Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine relaunched the Geffen brand in 2011.

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One comment to “Today in Rock History: Geffen Records is Born”
  1. It’s crazy that Lennon’s death is what propelled his last album to sell so well. He was killed two weeks after Double Fantasy hit the charts. It went on to sell millions. That definitely helped Geffen get off to a great start.

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