'The Independent Music Show Magazine' April 2019 - Page 21

Graham Sclater

Musician - Author

Music Entrepreneur - Robert Stigwood

Part Two

by Graham Sclater

A well-known name within the music industry but little known to the general public was Robert Stigwood, born in Australia in 1934 and passed away in London on 4 January 2016.

When he arrived in England he had little idea that he would be one of the most successful entrepreneurs in both music and film industries. His initial recording success, with John Leyton and his hit “Johnny Remember Me” in 1961, took him into the music business where he was involved with numerous hits by other artists. In 1966 he signed The Who to his Reaction record label and quickly followed by managing the new band, Cream.

Stigwood recorded and released a number of singles by Paul Beuselick, under the name of Oscar, with little or no success. They kept in touch with each other and Beuselick changed his name to Paul Nicholas and appeared in Stigwood’s production of the hit stage musical Hair, followed by Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease and latterly playing Cousin Kevin in Stigwood’s film version of Tommy. In 1976 Paul Nicholas went on to achieve massive recording success in his own right.

It wasn’t long before Stigwood amassed a great deal of wealth accumulation by having control of not only agency and management of artists but also production, music publishing and convert promotion.

At the end of 1966 Stigwood offered to buy NEMS from the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein but instead in January 1967 they agreed to merge their two companies. This gave Stigwood access to considerable financial resources, placing him instantly at the top of the British music business. As a result of the deal, Epstein remained the manager of the Beatles and Stigwood took responsibility for the roster of the artists signed to NEMS.

It was several weeks into his new role with NEMS that he heard the music demos of a teenage vocal group who had just returned to the UK from Australia. Weeks later he signed the Bee Gees to a five year deal. Their first single “Spicks and Specks,” which had already been a hit in Australia, failed to chart in the UK.

Fortunately, he had access to the huge financial resources of NEMS behind him and he sent the band on a massive promotional campaign around the UK, spending a rumoured £50,000 in the process. The money wasn’t wasted and within months the Bee Gees had their first international hit with “New York Mining Disaster 1941” followed by “Massachusetts”.

With the untimely death of Brian Epstein in August 1967 Stigwood left to form his own company, Robert Stigwood Organisation, taking the Bee Gees contract with him. The new company soon spawned RSO records.

Buoyed by the success and his love of drama and film he took a controlling interest in Associated London Scripts, a writers agency, from which numerous successful television series were launched and the formats sold to television companies in the USA.

His business empire continued to grow into promoting top artists including Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart and David Bowie and managing Blind Faith, Eric Clapton, and many more. He now expanded into supplying soundtracks for feature films as well as RSO producing their own films. In fact almost everything he touched seemed to achieve success. But that was briefly curtailed when the music industry took a dive in the 1970’s and many of his artists were no longer box office.

Undeterred he turned his attention back to film production and his first project in 1973 was Jesus Christ Superstar followed by the Who’s Tommy in 1975 which became one of the most successful films of that year. Stigwood had even greater plans, and he wasn’t disappointed when in 1977 he produced what was to become the biggest film in the industry of the business. Saturday Night Fever smashed all records, not only for the film, but for the double album soundtrack. The songs written by the Bee Gees became the biggest selling soundtrack album of all time and at the same time resurrected the Bee Gees musical career and started the film career of John Travolta.

RSO Films next production was adapted from his already popular stage musical Grease, once again with John Travolta and co-starring Olivia Newton-John. Staying Alive, the follow-up to Saturday Night Fever, and once again featuring John Travolta, failed to surpass the previous blockbuster.

Although he and RSO continued to produce numerous films and release music until his death he knew he could never surpass the successful heights of the seventies.

Robert Stigwood was without any doubt an innovator who changed the music scene forever and brought so much great music and wonderful films to the market which we will all continue to enjoy for a very long time.

Graham Sclater is a music publisher, record producer and author and is the CEO of Tabitha Publishing Limited.


Graham Sclater, the author of this book, spent much of the sixties living and working as a musician in Hamburg. Ticket to Ride is an account of some of the events that many English groups experienced and wished to forget. It is dedicated to the

many musicians who failed to survive the trauma and returned to England.

During the mid-sixties, at the peak of the

English group scene in Germany, dozens of groups made the short trip across the English Channel to northern Europe in search of fame and fortune. This novel follows the exploits of a naïve under-age five-piece group from the South West of England as they make the futile search for success in Germany.

Although they set out to follow the path of the Beatles, they soon fall deep into the world that their contemporaries were fortunate enough to escape.

Based predominantly on the Reeperbahn, the Red Light district of Hamburg, the group is soon dragged down, their lives affected forever by the everyday world of prostitution, sex, drugs and violence, resulting in a total breakdown of the values that they once believed in. Realising too late that they have no way out, the story charts their desperation and untimely failure.

‘Given the opportunity, I would do it all over again.’

Reg Simms - Organist - The Cheetahs.

Available from www.tabithabooks.webs.com or Amazon