(Est. 1949, includes Debut Records, Galaxy Records, and Kicking Mule Records) During the 1940s brothers Max and Sol Weiss operated a San Francisco plastic molding business that included a record pressing plant, one of whose early clients was pianist Dave Brubeck. Due to the local success of the Brubeck discs, the pressing plant metamorphosed into a label, which the Weisses named Fantasy after a science-fiction magazine. Besides such jazz musicians as Brubeck, Gerry Mulligan, Cal Tjader, and Vince Guaraldi, the company signed all manner of performers, including comedian Lenny Bruce. In 1968, a year after a group of investors headed by Fantasy sales manager Saul Zaentz purchased the company, Fantasy began hitting platinum many times over with the rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival. Based in Berkeley since 1970, Fantasy continued its success with such varied artists as the Blackbyrds, Stanley Turrentine, Sylvester, Ruth Brown, and Freddy Cole, as well as with the best-selling Amadeus and The English Patient soundtracks, and is today the country's largest independent label.
Like its parent company, Fantasy Records, Galaxy was named after a science-fiction magazine. The subsidiary was launched in 1951 as a vehicle for jazz. It has undergone many changes and periods of dormancy, but sprang to life again in 1977 with a roster that included Tommy Flanagan, Red Garland, Johnny Griffin, Hank Jones, and Art Pepper.
Founded in New York in 1952 by bassist/composer Charles Mingus, in association with wife Celia, drummer Max Roach, and others, Debut Records was a valiant attempt by jazz musicians to control their own music. Charles and Celia Mingus separated in 1958, and she soon settled in San Francisco, where she went to work for (and eventually married) Saul Zaentz of Fantasy Records, which acquired the small-but-mighty Debut catalog.
Founded in Berkeley, California in 1971 by ED Denson (formerly of Takoma Records) and guitarist/educator Stefan Grossman, Kicking Mule Records served as a major impetus in expanding the limits of steel-string guitar playing. In 1995,the label was acquired by Fantasy, Inc.