Rolling Stones Records
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Rolling Stones Records is the record label formed by the Rolling Stones members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman in 1970, after their recording contract with Decca Records expired. It was first distributed in the United States by Atlantic Records subsidiary Atco Records. Beginning in 1973 it signed a distribution deal with Atlantic Records. In 1986 Columbia Records started distributing it. In the UK, it was distributed by EMI. The label was initially headed by Marshall Chess, the son of Chess Records founder Leonard Chess. It was discontinued in 1992 when the band signed to Virgin Records, but the tongue-and-lips logo remains on all post-1970 Rolling Stones releases.
In its original concept, the label was thought of as a way for members of the Rolling Stones to release solo albums. The first album to be released was Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka in 1971, and is widely credited with being the first world music LP. In 1972 the label released Jamming with Edward!, a collection of tracks recorded by Jagger, Wyman, and Watts with Nicky Hopkins and Ry Cooder in 1969.
Bill Wyman released his albums Monkey Grip in 1974 and Stone Alone in 1976. Wyman found out that he couldn't get proper attention from the promotion and sales people, as the Rolling Stones had albums due out shortly after both releases, and the label concentrated on the band's albums. Wyman ended up going to A&M Records for further solo efforts.
Unlike Apple Records, Grunt Records, Purple Records or Swan Song Records (the vanity labels of The Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin respectively), Rolling Stones Records never made much of an effort to sign outside artists. Kracker, a Cuban rock group produced by Rolling Stones' producer, Jimmy Miller, was the first outside act to be signed to Rolling Stones Records in 1973. Kracker, along with Billy Preston, opened the show for the Stones during their 1973 European Tour.
In 1973, Mick Jagger listened to songs John Phillips, formerly of The Mamas & the Papas, had written before an English cricket match they were attending on holiday. That evening he signed Phillips to a contract on Rolling Stones Records and booked studio time in London's Olympic Studios. Jagger and Richards were producers for the album; Mick Taylor and Ronnie Wood also contributed. The initial sessions began a six-year recording odyssey. Jagger got increasingly dissatisfied with the project and the Richards/Phillips partnership as progress on the recording front was made very slowly while a lot of Richards' and Phillips' time was taken up by heavy drug use. Jagger reported to Ahmet Ertegün, then head of Atlantic Records, that he could not see the album ever getting completed. Atlantic cut off money for further recording and mixing in 1979 and the recordings were left unfinished. Ertegün in particular thought it lacked marketability and had no first single to release. As reported in Phillips' biography, Papa John, hundreds of thousands of dollars had been spent recording in both London and New York. For decades illegal copies of the album known as Half Stoned or Phillips '77 circulated amongst bootleg traders and Rolling Stones fans. Eventually the record was officially released in 2001 under a Virgin/EMI imprint Eagle Records as Pay Pack & Follow.
In 1978 Rolling Stones Records signed Peter Tosh, a former member of Bob Marley's band The Wailers, to a contract. His first album for the label, Bush Doctor, which featured Jagger on the track "Don't Look Back", was moderately successful. Despite further moderate success, Tosh would later exit the label in 1981, citing lack of promotion and a personal feud with the Rolling Stones.
The 1980s onwards - the end
Jagger released his first solo albums, She's the Boss and Primitive Cool in 1985 and 1987 respectively, through a newly conceived partnership between Rolling Stones Records and CBS Records (now Sony Music). Thus the trademark Rolling Stones logo was affixed to each record and the label "Rolling Stones Records" was also printed on each new release, which angered Keith Richards. In fact, through the 1980s and early 1990s, "Rolling Stones Records" continued to be printed on the labels of all new releases up through Flashpoint (1991). However, as the back catalogue has been shifted to Virgin/EMI, these markers are the last vapour trails of Rolling Stones Records. In 2008, the group switched distribution of Rolling Stones Records back catalogue material as well as new material to Polydor Records in the UK, and Interscope Records in the US (both imprints of Universal Music Group, also distributor of their pre-1971 catalogue as UMG is the distributor for ABKCO Records).