Arts & Entertainment Industry Forum: Terry Ellis

Chrysalis Music co-founder and music producer Terry Ellis speaks with students (10/08/2012).

About Terry Ellis

As an architect of the British Invasion of the 1960s and 1970s, Terry Ellis was responsible for guiding the careers of Jethro Tull, Blondie, Pat Benatar, Billy Idol, Huey Lewis and the News, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Roxy Music, King Crimson, and Yes, among others. While still at university, Ellis began booking concerts as a side gig, and wrote about music for the college newspaper. The concert booking paid off, and by 1967 he formed the Ellis-Wright Agency with partner Chris Wright. The agency got its first break with booking two successful tours for Reparata and the Delrons, but truly achieved momentum when Ellis began managing Jethro Tull in 1968. Terry would eventually produce several Jethro Tull records, including This Was (1969), Stand Up (1969), and Aqualung (1971).

Ellis and Wright grew the agency further, eventually changing the name to Chrysalis Records, and further honed their talent for discovering, developing, and exploiting the commercial potential of young recording artists. During the 1970s, the company (and its subsidiaries) grew to be a force in every aspect of the British music industry: artist management, booking, record labels, music publishing, concert promotion, and venue management.

At the end of 1974, Ellis moved to Los Angeles to build Chrysalis' presence in the United States. While there, Terry discovered Billy Idol, Pat Benatar, Huey Lewis and the News, and Blondie, signing each to Chrysalis and fueling another decade of success when these acts became international stars in the 1980s. After buying out Ellis in 1985, Wright sold the Chrysalis Records label to EMI in 1991; later, the entire operation would be sold to a consortium consisting of BMG and private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in 2010.

Throughout his storied career, Terry has served as Chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America (the only non-American to ever hold the post), as well as Chairman of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and a member of the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI).