In 1964, Gene Rosenthal began distributing small West Coast folk labels like Arhoolie and Takoma on the East Coast, before he started his own Adelphi Records in Maryland in 1968. The initial focus of Adelphi was also contemporary folk and blues music, but Rosenthal expanded the scope of the label in the late 1970s into jazz and other genres and even purchased the
recording rights to the annual Reggae Sunsplash festival in Jamaica in the early 1980s.
The name Adelphi is a reference to both the nearby town of Adelphi, Maryland and the John Fahey song "The Downfall of the Adelphi Rolling Grist Mill." Fahey recorded his first album in a church in Adelphi, MD, and he was also the founder and owner of Takoma Records which Rosenthal was distributing.
Adelphi survived as an independent record label for almost 50 years and it still exists today, though somewhat inactive, under the helms of Gene Rosenthal.