Epic Records is an American record label, owned by Sony Music Entertainment, which currently operates under the umbrella of the Columbia/Epic Label Group. It is a premiere label for Sony Music. Though it was originally conceived as a jazz imprint, it has since expanded to represent various genres.
Epic Records was launched in 1953 by CBS for the purpose of marketing jazz and classical music that did not fit the theme of the more mainstream Columbia Records. Its bright-yellow, black and blue logo became a familiar trademark for many jazz and classical releases. This has included such notables as the Berlin Philharmonic, Charles Rosen, the Juilliard String Quartet, Antal Doráti conducting the Hague Philharmonic and George Szell conducting the Cleveland Orchestra.
By 1960, the label's musical base had been expanded to include all genres. This was done in part to prevent the roster of Columbia Records (which, at the time, had a reputation for releasing material by more established acts) from being overstuffed with newer artists. Subsequently, Epic became better known for its signing of newer, fledgling acts. By the end of the 1960s, Epic earned its first gold records and had evolved into a formidable hit-making force in rock and roll, R&B and country music. Among its many acts, it included Roy Hamilton, Bobby Vinton, The Dave Clark Five, The Hollies, Tammy Wynette, Donovan, The Yardbirds, Lulu, July and Jeff Beck. Several of the British artists on the Epic roster during the 1960s were the result of CBS's Epic/Okeh units' international distribution deal with EMI; Epic recordings were issued by EMI on the Columbia label before the contract with EMI expired, at which point CBS Records began issuing Epic label material on the CBS label until Epic UK was established in 1971 as a CBS imprint.