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The RSO Records logo

RSO Records was a record label, formed by rock and roll and musical theatre impresario Robert Stigwood in 1973[1]. The "RSO" stands for the Robert Stigwood Organisation. The company's main headquarters were at 67 Brook Street, in London's Mayfair. It underwent four distribution stages: first by Atlantic Records, then as an independent label, then by Polydor Records, and finally by Polygram Records.

RSO managed the careers of several superstars (Bee Gees, Yvonne Elliman, Eric Clapton, Andy Gibb, and, as a record label, released the soundtracks to Fame, Sparkle, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Times Square, Grease (over 25 million copies sold worldwide), and Saturday Night Fever (over 30 million copies sold worldwide). The release of the latter two albums made RSO one of the most financially successful labels of the 1970s.

As successful as the label was financially, the independent label produced successes on the pop charts never before seen by the recording industry. By one point in 1978, the label boasted an unprecedented 6th consecutive #1 single on the Billboard (US) pop charts, holding the top spot for 21 consecutive weeks. With singles releases from the Grease album ("You're The One That I Want", and the title track) and another huge Andy Gibb smash (Shadow Dancing), RSO would log a further 10 weeks at the #1 position, giving the label a record 9 in one calendar year (it just missed a 10th, as the Bee Gees release "Too Much Heaven" was held from the top spot until January 6, 1979). This feat remains unduplicated by any record label to date.

As high as the label was flying in 1978, the disastrous commercial and critical failure of RSO's movie version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band crippled the company. The woes of this monumental failure were only somewhat offset by the middle of 1979, as the Bee Gees album, "Spirits Having Flown", went on to eventually sell nearly 20 million copies (with the album producing three further #1 singles that each sold more than 1 million copies in their own right). By 1981 Stigwood had ended his involvement with the label, which was absorbed into Polygram a few years later.

Contents

Label variations

  • Atlantic-owned label: Tan label with small logo
  • Independently owned label: Tan label with larger logo
  • Polydor-owned label: Tan label with large logo, Polydor logo at bottom perimeter of label
  • Polygram-owned label: Silver label with large logo
  • RSO Top Line reissue label: White label with gold or silver star, very small logo at top of label between TOP and LINE

Trivia

The chyron of the RSO logo is seen during the end credits of Tommy, Saturday Night Fever and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

In the Sgt. Pepper's movie, the organization is represented as "Big Deal Records".

RSO re-released the early albums of the Bee Gees and Eric Clapton, as well as the Blind Faith album; all were previously available from the parent label Polydor Records, and would be re-reissued by Polydor after RSO folded. RSO also reissued the entire Cream catalogue; the band's first two albums were originally released by Stigwood's first label, Reaction Records.

References

See also

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