Hail A Dark Horse, George Harrison’s Record Label
On September 13, 1974, George Harrison’s record label, Dark Horse Records released its first two singles.
On September 13, 1974 George Harrison’s record label, Dark Horse Records released its first two singles. The first – serial number DH10001 – was Ravi Shankar’s “I Am Missing You.” Produced and arranged by Harrison, it is a rare Shankar composition in a Western pop style with English lyrics; it has been described as a love song to the Hindu god Krishna. The other single to come out that day was Splinter’s “Costafine Town,” which went top 10 in Australia and South Africa and made the UK top twenty.
Splinter was a duo made up of Bill Elliott and Bobby Purvis who both hailed from South Shields in the north of England. Their album, The Place I Love, came out a week later with Harrison as producer, and featured George playing electric and acoustic guitars, dobro, bass, and harmonium under various pseudonyms. Other musicians on the record included ex-Spooky Tooth keyboard player, Gary Wright, Alvin Lee, Billy Preston, Jim Keltner, Klaus Voorman, and Willie Weeks. At the time, it was even rumored that this might secretly be George’s new band.
Ravi Shankar’s album was also released on September 20, 1974. Entitled Shankar Family ॐ Friends. Recorded in both Los Angeles and at Harrison’s home studio FPSHOT in the UK throughout 1973 and early 1974, it was an audacious blend of traditional Indian music with folk, rock, jazz, and even pop.
In 1976, with his contractual obligations to other labels at an end, and with the winding down of Apple Records, George Harrison signed to his own label. In the intervening years, there had been releases by Stairsteps, Jiva, Henry McCullough (following his departure from Wings), and a band called Attitudes. First brought together on Harrison’s 1975 album Extra Texture (Read All About It), Attitudes included drummer Jim Keltner, Danny (Kootch) Kortchmar on guitar, lead and background vocals, bass player Paul Stallworth and keyboard player David Foster. Between 1976 and 1977, they were to release two albums and five singles on Dark Horse.
Incidentally, Dark Horse Records was named after the title of a George song found on the 1974 album of the same name. The inspiration for the logo came from a label on a tin that he had found during a trip to India, featuring the seven-headed horse Uchchaihshravas, a common figure in Indian art and mythology.
George Harrison’s Dark Horse LP along with his other solo releases are available in the 16LP The George Harrison Vinyl Collection that can be bought here.
September 13, 2014 at 12:20 pm
September 14, 2014 at 10:38 am
Excellent, always wanted to know more about George’s record label
September 16, 2014 at 12:15 am
Why not release the Splinter tunes in iTunes ?
I’ve looked for them before!
February 25, 2015 at 11:54 pm
How about a CD release for the remaining Dark Horse albums? George’s and Ravi’s are out. Maybe group together in sleeves the three Splinter albums (and 1 non-lp b-side ‘I’ll Bend For You’). The two from Attitudes (and there 2 non-lp b sides ‘The Whole World’s Crazy’ and ‘If We Want To’). Since Keni Burke was a member of Stairsteps, his solo album and the Stairsteps’ album might be released togther. This would leave the albums by Henry McCullough, Jiva, and the promo-only “George Harrison – The Dark Horse Radio Special”. The promo-only would seem an unlikely release except as a bonus in a Dark Horse Box Set, but would a box of these ten aforementioned albums be a commercially viable release?
In any form, I’d buy them, as I think many fans of George and the individual artists would!
September 13, 2016 at 8:04 pm
I love The Stairsteps and Keni Burke albums on Dark Horse and own a copy of Splinters ‘Costafine town’- Dark Horse was a very eclectic label!