Description: Founded – 1972 – Records

Known For: Origin – Germany.

Location: Germany


Website: Arista Nashville

Other Links: See below:


Arista Records

An American record label. It was a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment and operated under the RCA Music Group. The label was founded in 1974 by Clive Davis, who formerly worked for CBS Records (which would become Sony Music Entertainment). Until its demise in 2011, it was a major distributor and promoter of albums throughout the United States and United Kingdom.

After being fired from CBS Records, Clive Davis was hired by Columbia Pictures to be a consultant for the company’s record and music operations. Assuming the presidency of this division in late 1974, Davis would fold the various Columbia legacy labels (Colpix Records, Colgems Records, and Bell Records) into a new entity named Arista Records, ultimately buying a percentage of the company from Columbia Pictures. The label was named Arista after New York City’s secondary school honor society (of which Davis was a member at Erasmus Hall High School).

In early 1975, most of the artists who had been signed to Bell were let go, except David Cassidy (left for RCA Records), Tony Orlando and Dawn (left for Elektra Records), and The 5th Dimension (departed for ABC Records). Others, such as Suzi Quatro and Hot Chocolate, were farmed out to the Bell/Arista-distributed label, Big Tree.

Several Bell acts, such as Barry Manilow, the Bay City Rollers, and Melissa Manchester moved to Arista. The British Bell label kept that name for a couple of years before changing its name to Arista. The label was immortalized in the 1978 Rockpile song “They Called It Rock,” in the lyric, “Arista says they love you/But the kids can’t dance to this.”

Besides boasting such big name stars as Manilow and Dionne Warwick; one of the pivotal moments in Arista’s history was the signing of Aretha Franklin in 1980, after her long relationship with Atlantic Records ended. The label’s most significant acquisition, however, came in 1983, when Davis signed Warwick’s cousin Whitney Houston. Houston would eventually become Arista’s biggest selling recording artist, with sales of 55 million units in the U.S. alone—according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Subsidiary imprint labels

Arista had an imprint label in the 1970s called Arista Novus, which focused on contemporary jazz artists. It distributed two other jazz labels, “Arista Freedom,” which specialized in avant-garde jazz and, until 1982, GRP Records, which specialized in contemporary jazz and what came to be known as smooth jazz. A country music division, Career Records, was merged into the Arista Nashville division in 1997. Arista Austin was used in the late 1990s as a country label. Additionally, Arista was the North American distributor of Jive Records from 1981 until 1987. During the 1990s, Arista also distributed the Logic, Rowdy and Heavenly labels.

Acquisitions, sell-offs

Looking to stave off bankruptcy, Columbia Pictures sold Arista to German-based Ariola Records in 1979. After Ariola purchased General Electric’s RCA Records in 1986, the combined company was renamed Bertelsmann Music Group, though Arista’s US releases would not note BMG until 1987.

Into the 1980s, Arista continued its success, including major UK act Secret Affair. Over the years it acquired Northwestside Records, deConstruction Records, First Avenue Records, and Dedicated Records in the UK. In 1989, Arista entered into a joint venture with Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Babyface in the creation of LaFace Records record company of TLC, which it fully acquired in 1999. In 1993, Arista also entered into a joint-venture with Sean “P. Diddy” Combs to form Bad Boy Records. Arista acquired Profile Records, the home of Run-D.M.C. and Poor Righteous Teachers, in 1997.

Milli Vanilli Controversy

In 1989, Arista signed a German-based duo named Milli Vanilli, consisting of Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan, and released its wildly successful multi-platinum debut album (which had been previously released in Europe the year before), Girl You Know It’s True, the same year in the U.S. and Canada. The album became a success, was certified sextuple platinum in the United States, and charted five top-ten singles, three of which peaked at number one. In 1990, the duo won two American Music Awards and a Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

Despite their success, rumors began to surface about the duo, and were confirmed later that year, when Milli Vanilli’s svengali producer and manager, Frank Farian, publicly revealed that the two hadn’t performed a single note on their album. Carol Decker, the lead singer of the short-lived group T’Pau, in an interview after a performance on MTV, said that the two were using a Synclavier and not singing at all.

This revelation caused a firestorm in the music industry, as recording artists, particularly pop acts that heavily relied on electronic processing and over-dubbing (what they referred to as “studio magic”), were now under scrutiny and subsequently forced to cut back on lip-synching to show that they were authentic. Milli Vanilli’s Grammy Award was subsequently revoked.

Clive Davis promptly released the duo from its contract and deleted the album and its masters from their catalogue—making Girl You Know It’s True the largest-selling album to be deleted. A court ruling in the U.S. allowed anyone who had bought the album to get a partial refund.

In response to the scandal, Arista’s position was that the company had been completely unaware of Morvan and Pilatus having not themselves recorded their album. In a post-debacle interview, Morvan defended himself by saying, “[Before Milli Vanilli] I was working at a McDonald’s. What would you have done?”

The impact on the label was in no way insignificant. Arista sales suffered across the board with only one release that was certified Gold, KLF “Justified and Ancient” that entire year.

Reconstructing Arista

At the end of 2000, following its 25th anniversary, BMG pushed Davis out as label head[citation needed] and promoted L.A. Reid as its new President and CEO. Under Reid, the label had success with newer acts such as Avril Lavigne and Pink, as well as legacy acts like TLC and Usher. Reid, however, seemed to lose focus when it came to promoting its established acts such Whitney Houston and Toni Braxton, both of whom had been the label’s biggest sellers over the years. Reid’s extravagant spending, meanwhile, caused the company to lose money.

After the formation of the joint venture of BMG and Sony Music Entertainment (the former CBS Records) in 2004, Reid was let go. Arista, always an independently managed label at BMG, was merged with J Records in August 2005 and began operating under the newly formed RCA Music Group—of which Davis had become CEO, and thus again became in control of Arista. The Arista label has continued to be used for new releases, while its reissues are released through Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings. Also, as a result of the Sony-BMG merger, Arista once again became related to Columbia Pictures, which is fully owned by the Sony Corporation of America (through Sony Pictures Entertainment) – who would buy out BMG’s share in 2008.


During the summer of 2011, the RCA Music Group underwent a restructuring which saw the elimination of the Arista name later on that year, along with sister labels Jive and J. RCA Records will now start releasing all RCA Music Group releases under RCA Records.

Arista Nashville will continue to operate under Sony Music Nashville and will not be affected by the closing of Arista Records.

Arista Nashville

Main article: Arista Nashville

In 1989, Arista Records launched Arista Nashville, which specializes in country music artists. In 1995, Arista Nashville launched a subsidiary label known as Career Records, the roster of which at the time included Brett James, Tammy Graham, and Lee Roy Parnell. Currently, Arista Nashville falls under the wing of Sony Music Nashville, hosting such artists as Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Ronnie Dunn and Jerrod Niemann.




  1. Jump up ^ “CPI Tabs Davis to Expand Line”

    Billboard on Google Books (June 1, 1974). Retrieved March 18, 2011

  2. Jump up ^ “The New Record Company: Arista Records”

    Billboard on Google Books (November 23, 1974). Retrieved March 18, 2011

  3. Jump up ^ RIAA sales statistics [1]
  4. Jump up ^ “Arista/Freedom Records Listing”

    . Jazzdiscography.com. 1998-04-26. Retrieved 2011-12-17.

  5. Jump up ^ PARELES, JON (November 20, 1990). “Wages of Silence: Milli Vanilli Loses A Grammy Award”

    . The New York Times. Retrieved 12 February 2012.

  6. Jump up ^ Halperin, Shirley (2011-10-07). “RCA Records’ Peter Edge and Tom Corson on Why the Label Downsized and its Place in Sony’s Big Picture (Q&A)”

    . The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2011-12-17.

  7. Jump up ^ Christman, Ed (2011-08-23). “RCA’s New Executive Team Named Under CEO Peter Edge Amid Layoffs (Update)”

    . Billboard.biz. Retrieved 2011-12-17.

  8. Jump up ^ “Unveiling The New Look RCA Records”

    . FMQB. 2011-08-23. Retrieved 2011-12-17.

  9. Jump up ^ Halperin, Shirley (2011-10-07). “RCA’s Peter Edge, Tom Corson on the Shuttering of Jive, J and Arista”

    . Billboard.biz. Retrieved 2011-12-17.

  10. Jump up ^ “Quick Takes: RCA closes subsidiaries”

    . Los Angeles Times. 2011-10-08. Retrieved 2011-12-17.

  11. Jump up ^ http://www.sonymusic.fr/labels/

List of former Arista Records artists


A Flock of Seagulls (Jive/Arista US)
Ace of Base (Americas/Japan}
Air Supply (outside Oceania and Canada)
The Alan Parsons Project
Sasha Allen (Divine Mill/Arista)
Keith Anderson (Arista Nashville)
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
Asleep at the Wheel (Arista Nashville)
Sherrié Austin (Arista Nashville)
Automatic Black
Alicia Keys


Babylon A.D.
Bay City Rollers
Jeff Black (Arista Austin)
Black Rob (Bad Boy/Arista)
Blackhawk (Arista Nashville)
Blood Donor
The Blues Band
Angela Bofill
The Bogmen
BoneCrusher (So So Def/Arista)
BR549 (Arista Nashville)
Brand Nubian
The Braxtons
Anthony Braxton
Toni Braxton (LaFace/Arista)
The Brecker Brothers
Shannon Brown (Arista Nashville)


Camp Lo (Profile/Arista)
Blu Cantrell
Eric Carmen
Jason Michael Carroll (Arista Nashville)
Deana Carter (Arista Nashville)
The Church (outside Oceania)
Ciara (Futuristic/Arista)
Clipse (Star Trak/Arista)
Jim Collins (Arista Nashville)
Sean “Diddy” Combs (Bad Boy/Arista)
Kristy Lee Cook (Arista Nashville)
Deborah Cox
Crash Test Dummies
Rob Crosby (Arista Nashville)


Da Brat (So So Def/Arista)
Da King & I (Rowdy/Arista)
Clint Daniels (Arista Nashville)
Linda Davis (Arista Nashville)
Taylor Dayne
Deep Dish (deConstruction/Arista)
Diamond Rio (Arista Nashville)
La Diferenzia (Arista Latin)
DJ Quik (Profile/Arista)
Dream (Bad Boy/Arista)
Dreams So Real
Ian Dury


Dave Edmunds
The Elevators
Enuff Z Nuff
Eurythmics (US)
Faith Evans (Bad Boy/Arista)
Every Mother’s Nightmare
Exile (Arista Nashville)


Radney Foster (Arista Austin)
Aretha Franklin
From Zero


Gary Glitter
Global Communication (Dedicated/Arista)
Goodie Mob (LaFace/Arista)
Ruben Gomez (Arista Latin)
Tammy Graham (Career/Arista Nashville)
Grateful Dead


Haircut One Hundred
Hall & Oates
Anthony Hamilton (LaFace/Arista)
Havana Mena (Heat Music)
Fidel Hernández (Arista Latin)
Taylor Hicks
Whitney Houston
Rebecca Lynn Howard (Arista Nashville)
The Hollow Men
Huang Chung (before they changed their name to Wang Chung)
Jennifer Hudson
Phyllis Hyman


Icicle Works
Iggy Pop
Illegal (Rowdy/Arista)


Brett James (Career/Arista Nashville)
Alan Jackson (Arista Nashville)
Jermaine Jackson
Rob Jackson (Divine Mill/Arista)
Flaco Jiménez (Arista Texas)
Carolyn Dawn Johnson (Arista Nashville)
Jon and Vangelis


K-9 Posse
Robert Earl Keen (Arista Texas)
Kelis (Star Trak/Arista)
Kenny G
The Kinks
The KLF (US/Canada)
Koffee Brown (Divine Mill/Arista)


Latin Quarter
Kenny Lattimore
Avril Lavigne
Annie Lennox (US)
Blake Lewis
Linda Lewis
Alison Limerick
The Limit
Jeff Lorber
Lupe Fiasco
Lyte Funky Ones
Lisa Lopes


M People (non-US)
Craig Mack (Bad Boy/Arista)
Mama’s Boys (Jive/Arista)
Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
Ma$e (Bad Boy/Arista)
Hugh Masekela (Jive Afrika/Arista)
Melissa Manchester
Barry Manilow (Arista/RCA)
Sarah McLachlan (Nettwerk/Arista)
Meat Loaf (outside US/Canada)
Robert Miles (deConstruction/Arista)
Milli Vanilli (US/Canada)
The Monkees
Abra Moore (Arista Austin)
Chanté Moore
Dude Mowrey (Arista Nashville)
Lennon Murphy


Naughty by Nature
Nerf Herder
Peter Nero
Next (Divine Mill/Arista)
Night at Church
Willie Nile
No Mercy
The Notorious B.I.G. (Bad Boy/Arista)
Tina Novak

Tony Orlando & Dawn
OutKast (LaFace/Arista)
Billy Ocean


David Pomeranz
Graham Parker
Ray Parker Jr.
Alan Parsons
The Partridge Family
Lee Roy Parnell (Career/Arista Nashville)
Jamal (Rowdy/Arista)
Phyllis Hyman
Prince (NPG/Arista,one album deal)


Qkumba Zoo


Natasha Ramos
Real McCoy
Lou Reed
Mille Reyes
Nydia Rojas (Arista Latin)
Run-D.M.C. (Profile/Arista)


Gil Scott-Heron
Secret Affair
Shyne (Bad Boy/Arista)
Carly Simon
Simple Minds
Sister 7 (Arista Austin)
Sky (Canadian band)
Heather Small
Patti Smith
Spiritualized (Dedicated/Arista)
Lisa Stansfield
Al Stewart
Jermaine Stewart
Angie Stone
Straitjacket Fits


T.I. (LaFace/Arista)
Tha’ Rayne (Divine Mill/Arista)
Carl Thomas (Bad Boy/LaFace/Arista)
Marlo Thomas
Thompson Twins
Three Times Dope
Pam Tillis (Arista Nashville)
TLC (LaFace/Arista)
Too Ni¢e
Total (Bad Boy/Arista)
The Tractors (Arista Nashville)
Tanya Tucker
Dwight Twilley Band
Ryan Tyler (Arista Nashville)
Travis Porter


Usher (LaFace/Arista)


Phil Vassar (Arista Nashville)
Mario Vazquez


Loudon Wainwright III
Butch Walker
Steve Wariner (Arista Nashville)
Jennifer Warnes
Dionne Warwick
Warp 9
Whodini (Jive/Arista)
Calvin Wiggett (Arista Nashville)
Michelle Wright (Arista Nashville)



YoungBloodZ (Ghet-O-Vision/LaFace/Arista)




The Muppet Show
Saturday Night Live (1970’s)