From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Sanctuary Records is a record label based in the United Kingdom and a subsidiary of Universal Records.<ref>"Universal Music to buy Sanctuary", accessed June 16, 2007, </ref> Until June 2007, it was the largest independent record label in the UK and the largest independent music management company in the world.<ref>"Sanctuary may sell off some units", accessed June 16, 2007, </ref> It was also the world's largest independent owners of music intellectual property rights, with over 150,000 songs.<ref>"Help - Sanctuary Records Group", accessed March 28, 2007 </ref> The company was formed in 1976 by Rod Smallwood and Andy Taylor, who had first met as undergraduates at Trinity College, Cambridge, and later organized dance events for students together. In 1979, they discovered (in a London pub) and then managed Iron Maiden. They consequently named the record company after the band's song Sanctuary.
Sanctuary Records is noted for preferring to sign artists with long-term appeal, usually the artists are those considered 'heritage acts', being artists who have had a long career and steady fanbase.
Kenny Rogers's 1980s back catalog (originally released on RCA Records) was re-issued by Sanctuary's Castle Music label in conjunction with Kenny Rogers' Dreamcatcher Records in the UK. The albums were only available as imports in the US. Rogers' 2003 release "Back To The Well" was released by Sanctuary in the UK.
After a £110m loss in 2005 pressure from the U.K. financial and business leaders led to Smallwood becoming merely a general manager of the company, Taylor becoming Chief Executive and former British Airways chief executive Bob Ayling being installed as the new Chairman. On May 26, 2006, Ayling dismissed Taylor from the company over severe problems and inaccuracies in previous years' accounting. Sanctuary Group PLC shares had already become drastically reduced in value after a restructuring designed to deal with the previous year's huge loss.
In late 2006, Smallwood left the company, taking with him Iron Maiden's management interests.
In April 2007 Billboard Magazine reported that Sanctuary Records would cease to exist as a new release label in the US that summer, though catalog, licensing, and new media operations would continue. On October 22, 2007, the record company was absorbed by Universal Music Group.
By December 2007, it appeared that the Sanctuary name had begun to be airbrushed away, with both Morrissey and Robert Plant being transferred to the Universal-owned Decca Music Group for future releases.