Rhino Records, EMI Buy Roulette’s Labels : Owners Plan to Re-Release Music From Catalogue Morris Levy Compiled

Times Staff Writer

Rhino Records and EMI have acquired the Roulette group of labels and its 50,000-title catalogue of such famous jazz, rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll artists as Count Basie, Little Anthony and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. A sales price was not disclosed.

New York-based Roulette was founded and owned by Morris Levy, who last year was sentenced to 10 years in prison on extortion charges. He is appealing the sentence.

“I don’t know what triggered his desire to sell not only the record company, but also his publishing company,” said Bob Emmer, executive vice president of legal and business affairs at Rhino.

Under the agreement, Rhino of Santa Monica and London-based EMI, which is involved in records, music publishing and other entertainment businesses, will co-own the catalogue that Levy built over 30 years. Under Levy, Roulette acquired the works of artists who recorded under such labels as Josie, Jubilee, TK, BT Puppy, Gone, End and Rama.


Under the agreement, Rhino will have the rights to use the non-jazz portion of the catalogue in North America. EMI retains the worldwide rights for the jazz titles and the rights to use the non-jazz recordings outside North America.

Bob Emmer at Rhino said the company might re-release music by such artists as Tommy James, Little Anthony and Mitch Ryder as early as August. The artists’ works will likely be released in anthology form, Emmer said.

An EMI spokesman said the company expects to release works by Count Basie, Sarah Vaughan and Stan Getz early next year.

Last October, a federal judge in New Jersey sentenced Levy to prison and fined him $200,000 for conspiring to extort a customer in the 1984 purchase of more than 4 million discontinued recordings from MCA Records. The sentence was the result of a 3 1/2-year investigation into alleged organized crime involvement in the record industry. The FBI has alleged that Levy and Roulette have acted as a “front” for Vincent (the Chin) Gigante, the reputed boss of the Genovese crime family.