Atco Records

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Atco Records
Parent company Warner Music Group
Founded 1955
Founder Herb Abramson
Distributor(s) Rhino Entertainment
(In the US)
WEA International Inc.
(Outside of the US)
Genre Various
Country of origin United States
Official website

ATCO Records is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group, currently operating through WMG's Rhino Entertainment.

Company history[edit]


Original logo

Atco Records was founded in August 1955 as a division of Atlantic Records.[1][2] It was devised as an outlet for productions by one of Atlantic's founders, Herb Abramson, who had returned to the company from military service. It was also intended as a home for acts that did not fit the format of Atlantic, which at the time was only releasing blues, jazz, and R&B/soul. The Atco name is simply an abbreviation of ATlantic COrporation.

Atco's biggest acts during its early years were Bobby Darin and The Coasters. In the early 1960s Atlantic began to license material from international sources for release on Atco, leading to instrumental hit singles from such acts as Jorgen Ingmann, Acker Bilk and Bent Fabric. Starting in the mid-1960s, Atco became a force on the burgeoning rock scene, with American acts such as Sonny and Cher, Buffalo Springfield and Vanilla Fudge. A relationship with manager Robert Stigwood brought The Bee Gees and Cream to the label.

In 1964 Atco released a single in the United States by The Beatles, "Ain't She Sweet"; (flip side "Nobody's Child," with lead singer Tony Sheridan), which had been recorded in Hamburg in 1961. With lead vocals by John Lennon, "Ain't She Sweet" reached #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in August 1964. Atco also released an album entitled Ain't She Sweet which featured the other two tracks by Sheridan and the Beatles from the Hamburg session and filled out by eight other songs (Beatles and other British Invasion numbers) covered by The Swallows.

In 1966 Atco released a single in the USA by The Who. "Substitute" b/w "Waltz For A Pig" was issued through an arrangement with UK Polydor Records, due to the dispute the Who was having with their producer Shel Talmy and their contract with US Decca Records and UK Brunswick Records. This would be the only Who recording to appear on Atco, although Pete Townshend and John Entwistle would eventually sign to Atco as solo artists.

Atco has also provided distribution for other labels, including, but not limited to, the following: Robert Stigwood's RSO Records, Volt Records, Island Records, Modern Records, Rolling Stones Records, and Ruthless Records.

In the mid-1970s, Atco issued early albums from the Australian group AC/DC. Starting in 1978, AC/DC releases were issued on Atlantic until their contract with the label ended in the 1990s.

Twilight years[edit]

Atlantic de-emphasized Atco in the mid-1970s, using the label mostly for releases by hard rock acts and some British and European bands. In 1980 Atco's visibility rose with strong chart performances from Pete Townshend's Empty Glass album and Gary Numan's "Cars". The label's roster became more diverse again in the 1980s. The last number one hit on Atco was "If Wishes Came True" by Sweet Sensation in 1990. In 1991, Sylvia Rhone merged Atco with Atlantic's fledgling EastWest Records America label and briefly operated the combination as Atco–East West Records America. By 1994, the Atco name was dropped and the label continued operating as EastWest Records America, which then switched to sister label Elektra Records for distribution. Since then, the Atco name and logo appeared only on reissues of old material through Elektra. As of mid-2005, its most recent release (in a joint venture with Rhino Records) was the soundtrack of the Bobby Darin biopic Beyond the Sea, which starred Kevin Spacey and featured Spacey's renditions of Darin songs.


In 2006, Warner Music Group reactivated Atco Records in conjunction with Rhino Entertainment. Scarlett Johansson, Keith Sweat, and Art Garfunkel were among the first artists signed to the label. Garfunkel issued Some Enchanted Evening on January 30, 2007.[3] Johansson issued Anywhere I Lay My Head on May 20, 2008. Queensrÿche released its American Soldier album on Atco on March 31, 2009.[4] The New York Dolls released its album Cause I Sez So on Atco on May 5, 2009.

Atco Records artists[edit]

The following is a list of artists who have recorded for Atco Records.


  1. ^ John Broven. "Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock 'n' Roll Pioneers". p. 68. Retrieved 2016-01-21. 
  2. ^ Galen Gart (1990). First Pressings:The History Of Rhythm and Blues, volume 5, 1955. Big Nickel. pp. 90, 91 & al. ISBN 0-936433-05-1. 
  3. ^ [1] Archived January 3, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ [2] Archived March 13, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ [3][dead link]

External links[edit]