40 Years Of Bear Family Records
“A German fairytale story of success”
Country and Rockabilly on Vinyl - Our Roots
The history of Bear Family Records starts exactly in 1975. The 1970s saw vinyl albums and singles as the only sound carriers on the worldwide market, besides rare shellac records, the so-called musicassettes and the early music video tapes. There was no internet back then and records from America, England and other countries were hard to get in Germany, especially those far apart from mainstream chart-knockers. Richard Weize, who calls himself 'a crazy collector', was very dissatisfied with that situation and founded the distribution and record label Bear Family Records. He soon released the first vinyl issues on Bear Family collecting missing and almost forgotten recordings. Over the years he continued finding real jewels in dusty archives, mostly Country music and Rock'n'Roll, and on top German Schlager tunes from past decades appearing out of even more dusty vaults in Germany to be reissued or even first released on Bear Family Records vinyl platters. But the year 1975 appears as the cornerstone to what we are today!
Expanding from Distribution Label to Online Shop
What started as a small record label in the city of Bremen became a worldwide trademark throughout the decades. We never stopped producing vinyl records but the compact disc as the newest sound carrier back then was very welcome at Bear Family Records. We also started producing our LP-sized deluxe CD box sets with an integrated hardcover book. Every box set is its own unique work of art setting a well-deserved musical monument to its particular artist. And then there was the internet coming up! We soon founded 'our own' online shop after the internet was made available to the mass-market. The online shop gives us the possibility to offer a bright variety of products, our own products and those by other great labels and companies we work together with. As we started with Country, Rock'n'Roll, Folk and German Schlager, we are unlimited in musical styles - it's the whole music history! Our range enlarges steadily. We serve genres such as Rhythm & Blues, Blues, Soul, plus many other musical styles and categories like Jazz, movie soundtracks, '60s Beat and Surf, New Wave and independent music treasures up to the great styles of Americana-Roots music, Rockabilly and Psychobilly! Besides our homemade Bear Family products and our subsidairies, Cree Records, ZuZazz and Bear Tracks, we offer a variety of worldwide labels that found a home in our distribution channels such as Sundazed, Delmark, Buffalo Bop and Dee-Jay Records, Rollercoaster, Valcour, BE! Records and the roots label Mississippi Records.
Bear Family Records Vinyl Corner – Homemade Treasures
The selection criteria to our vinyl issues and reissues are focussed on the products uniqueness. That means on one hand the recordings - and regarding a reissue the rarity of its original - and on the other hand the quality! Quality already starts with technical handling like disc transfers from best possible vinyl or shellac sources and mastering from original master tapes. Quality is also visible! Take a note on cover artwork, no matter if it's a reproduction of an original or a brand new design. And not to forget the quality of vinyl! During the 1980s and 90s and sometimes even today many record companies use recycled vinyl material mostly in a very thin format. We keep away from that mess as we only use fresh virgin vinyl to fulfill the magic performance of best possible sound on our vinyl records!
The Enlargement of Our Portfolio
Not only musical products experienced an organic growth over the past decades. The whole line of products scaled up continuously integrating even more categories. The 'Digital Versatile Disc', simply known as DVD, replaced video tape cassettes and almost automatically increased our repertoire of movies, shows and concert videos on DVD. Merchandise followed, incl. various sorts of clothes, caps, memorabilia and much more. Accessoires, books and magazines to complete our portfolio.
The Heartstrings of Bear Family Records – Music interlinks
Many things have changed at Bear Family Records over the past years and decades and there's always room for improvement. But we preserve what we represent: Our love and abundance of passion for music, culture, vinyl, rarities and its history behind. Quality and authenticity take part in our vital internal values. We are a bunch of idealists. A team of crazy birds with both feet on the ground. We love to celebrate music and so we are excited and happy about our annual open house presentation - and hey, what's better than partying and talk shopping together with our customers or even simply enjoying music together!