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A Record Label History of Grand Royal

The legend of Grand Royal is as multi-faceted as the Beastie Boys themselves. It began with the birth of the record label, branched into the phenomenal magazine, and concluded with an internet website. Although the concept of a band-owned record label was nothing new, people seemed to realize right away that there was something special about Grand Royal. The Beatles, with their Apple Records Co., had been one of the first groups interested in signing talented acts that had been passed over by other record companies. Taking a similar approach, the Beastie Boys stated in 1992 interviews that they would see to it that each and every unsolicited demo tape sent to the Grand Royal post office box would get listened to. A decade later, we are still just beginning to understand and appreciate everything that went into Grand Royal's rise and unfortunate fall. When the announcement was posted on GrandRoyal.com's website in the fall of 2001, loyal fans around the world mourned the loss of their favorite upstart. To legions of fans, Grand Royal was much more than a company; it was a way of life.

Although the Beastie Boys 1992 release Check Your Head was the first albumto display the now famous Grand Royal label, Luscious Jackson's 1992-93 release In Search of Manny was the label's first release. In the June 1997issue of Select Magazine, Mike D retold how things came together under the Grand Royal banner: "We used to sit for hours coming up with these ideas. But, we never did anything about it. Then Jill Cunniff kept asking if we knew anyone who might put the (Luscious Jackson) demo out and suddenly we thought, 'why don't we do it?' The fact that we actually did something was miraculous." Luscious Jackson was the first group signed to the label and would later score commercial success and earn a gold record sales award.

Following the release of In Search of Manny, Grand Royal went on to release Adam Horovitz's side project D.F.L's My Crazy Life ep. Then the label re-released a collection of the Beastie Boys early New York Hardcore recordings. Soon the label would get away from Beastie Boys related releases and branch out into various genres. At first it seemed as though it was just Beastie Boys fans that were doing the Grand Royal record buying. It was as close as one could come to having Mike D sit down and personally suggest various albums to purchase and get into. In time, the label developed a following that reached far beyond just fans of the Beastie Boys. In less than a handful of years, Grand Royal had achieved legendary status among record buyers just like historic labels Blue Note and Stax had done previously. People would simply buy every new Grand Royal release simply because every thing the label put out seemed interesting and collectable.

Grand Royal's cards and dice logo seemed somehow misrepresentative. It was never a gamble when one bought a record on the Grand Royal Records label by an artist they had never heard of, just the opposite: it was a safe bet that the artist would soon become a favorite in one's stereo. Grand Royal bands like Bis and Buffalo Daughter would be sonic strangers one day and our best friends by the end of the week.

 


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