August 20 – CBS Figured There Was Gold In Those Stones

The rich got richer! Rolling Stones signed a contract with Columbia/CBS Records this day in 1983 after spending years with Atlantic. The contract was worth at least $28 million (their biographer Murray Nelson says it was more like $50 million.) Whether 28 or 50 mil, it was the biggest contract any musician had signed to that point, topping Kenny Rogers’ previous record $20 million with RCA.

The contract was reportedly for four new albums and allowed them to keep using their own “Rolling Stones” label . Mick, Keith and the lads gave them two before jumping to Virgin Records in the ’90s. Both 1986’s Dirty Work and ’89’s Steel Wheels did fairly well- both were top 5 hits and platinum in the U.S., Steel Wheels hit #1 in Canada. However, it would seem unlikely Columbia got their money back on them alone. The real goldmine for them though was obtaining the rights to all the previous Stones’ work and being able to reissue them. Fans might not have noticed the change; even though signed to CBS the records and CDs had the Stones’ own “big lips” label on them. They were one of the few acts prominent enough to be on Columbia and not have their records sporting the traditional orange markings of that company.

In the ’90s they signed to Virgin Records but their last album, Blue and Lonesome in 2016 was on Polydor Records, distributed by Universal. That one by the way was their 11th #1 album in their homeland and won them a Grammy Award for Best Blues album… but with the state of music sales, is currently their only regular album not to have gone gold or better in the U.S. Will we see another new Stones album? Time will tell. Although there are no apparent immediate plans for one, the band recently wrapped up a European tour marking their 60th anniversary as a group.

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6 thoughts on “August 20 – CBS Figured There Was Gold In Those Stones

  1. To me, “Steel Wheels” was a real highlight, following the “Undercover” and “Dirty Works” albums. As much as I generally dig the Stones, I have mixed feelings about the two latter albums, espeically when it comes to “Undercover” and Mick Jagger’s apparent attempt to embrace a more contemporary ’80s sound.

    As for new music by the Glimmer Twins, who knows. I thought their single “Living in a Ghost Town” from April 2020 wasn’t bad. Just in case folks may not have heard it, here is a link to a YouTube click.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. oh yeah, thanks … I had forgotten about that track but it was quite good . I’m quite different than a lot of people when it comes to RS… I admire their durability a great deal but not really that into their traditional sound – ‘Satisfaction’ etc. I did like some of their more adventurous sounds like ‘Undercover of the Night’, ’emotional Rescue’ and ‘Harlem Shuffle’. ‘Steel Wheels’ was a pretty decent album overall.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. I think WB got money out of REM on first 3 (Green, Out of Time, Automatic For the People..) but didn’t prosper on next 3 or 4. Columbia- like I said, lost probably upwards of $20m on the new Stones albums. But probably evened out by catalog sales on ‘Exile…’, ‘Goats Head…’ and so on.

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