Decca Records began as a British record label established in 1929 by Edward Lewis. Its U.S. label was established in late 1934 by Lewis along with American Decca’s first president Jack Kapp and later American Decca president Milton Rackmil; however, owing to World War II, the link with the British company was broken for several decades.
The British label was renowned for its development of recording methods, while the American company developed the concept of cast albums in the musical genre. Both wings are now part of the Universal Music Group which is owned by Vivendi, a media conglomerate headquartered in France. The American Decca label was the foundation label, which evolved into UMG.
The name “Decca” dates back to a portable gramophone called the “Decca Dulcephone” patented in 1914 by musical instrument makers Barnett Samuel and Sons. That company was eventually renamed The Decca Gramophone Co. Ltd. and then sold to former stockbroker Edward Lewis in 1929. Within years, Decca Records Ltd. was the second largest record label in the world, calling itself “The Supreme Record Company”. The name “Decca” was coined by Wilfred S. Samuel by merging the word “Mecca” with the initial D of their logo “Dulcet” or their trademark “Dulcephone.” Samuel, a linguist, chose “Decca” as a brand name as it was easy to pronounce in most languages.