The Story of Colgems Records
Colgems Records, formed in 1966, was a joint venture between the Columbia-Screen Gems motion picture company and RCA Records developed to issue records by The Monkees and other Screen Gems artists. The label would also be home for soundtrack recordings for various Columbia Pictures productions, most famous being "Oliver!" and the audiophile favorite "Casino Royale." RCA acted as manufacturer and distributor for Colgems, with pressings outside of the United States being released on the RCA label proper.
An earlier label, Colpix Records, was dissolved at the same time that Colgems was created, and nearly all Colpix titles went out of print. (One Colpix album was reissued on Colgems, the soundtrack to the 1962 film "Lawrence of Arabia"). Ironically, even before the Monkees began, Colpix had signed two future members – Davy Jones, recruited to Screen Gems by Ward Sylvester, and Michael Nesmith, who recorded as "Michael Blessing." Eventually, the Colpix catalog was sold to Roulette Records. Today, the Colpix catalog is owned jointly by Rhino/Warner and EMI.
Among the non-Monkees Colgems roster were Sally Field (star of the NBC-TV series "The Flying Nun"), Jewel Akens, Sajid Khan (star of the short-lived NBC-TV series "Maya"), Hoyt Axton and The Lewis & Clarke Expedition (whose members included Michael Martin Murphy and Owen "Boomer" Castleman).
Colgems Records fared poorly in sales outside of non-Monkees pressings and as the Monkees started their decline in popularity in 1969, Colgems started to put energies in new artists. Among them, The New Establishment, P.K. Limited and Sajid Khan were promoted in trade magazines in Billboard and Cashbox and Sajid Khan was a minor teen heartthrob finding pinup pages in magazines such as "16" and "Tiger Beat." However, none of these artists found any commercial success. After the Monkees final single "Oh My My" barely stumped into the Hot 100 (#98....with a bullet! A deadly one...) and the last long-player "Changes" didn't chart at all, Colgems all but dissolved into obscurity. Only two singles were released following "Oh My My" and a couple of albums were issued as well, before Colgems and its master recordings and artists were folded into Bell Records, which soong after evolved into Arista Records.
In 1979, Columbia Pictures sold Arista (including the Colgems assets) to BMG-owned Ariola Records. Six years later, Ariola's parent company, BMG, merged with RCA Records.
Today, the assets of Colgems Records (except for The Monkees' output) is controlled by Sony BMG - all the ironic given that the group's part owner Sony had acquired Columbia Pictures in 1989. All of the Monkees' recordings are currently owned by Rhino Records, who licensed the group's original Colgems LP's from Arista and reissued them in the mid-1980s.