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ESP's rock groups, the Fugs and the Pearls Before Swine, wrote and recorded powerful statements against the war in Viet Nam, (KILL FOR PEACE, UNCLE JOHN) and their records rose quickly towards the top of the pop charts, through word of mouth. Over night, the record industry began bootlegging their lps, and no further orders reached ESP. In 1968, less than 3 years after its launch, ESP was driven out of business. The new music that was the major focus of the label was ignored in the U.S., while it was celebrated in Europe and Japan, where licensing agreements were made. Bernard Stollman, who had founded ESP, continued to produce records, although his distributors had shifted to purchasing bootlegs of these recordings, and his market had vanished, He treaded water until 1974, when the label ran out of funding. Within months after ESP closed its doors, Federal anti bootlegging laws were enacted. The master tapes were stored in safe deposit boxes, where they remained for 17 years. Stollman, a lawyer, eventually found employment as an Assistant Attorney General of the State of New York, and retired in 1991. A German record company, ZYX, then licensed the catalog in 1992, reissuing all 115 titles on cd. This relationship continued for 6 years, to be followed by a brief licensing agreement with a Dutch label, CALIBRE, and subsequently with an Italian company, Abraxas. In 2005, ESP resumed manufacturing, and now, many of the titles are available from retailers in many countries or by online order directly from this web site, or by download from itunes, emusic, rhapsody, musicnet and others.
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