- Thane Tierney
American record company. It was formally established in New York, New York, by former Columbia Records chief Clive Davis in June 1974. A year to the day after having been fired from Columbia, Davis signed a deal with Columbia Pictures Industries (unrelated to his former label) to organize their music businesses, which at that time consisted mainly of the Bell label and Screen Gems Music, a publishing company. Other labels owned by the company at the time, but largely dormant, were Colgems (the successor to Colpix) and SGC.
When Davis debuted the newly-organized Arista Records (named for the New York City high school honor society of which he was once a member) in November 1974, its front-line artists included a few holdovers from the Bell era, such as Suzi Quatro, Gryphon, and Tony Orlando and Dawn, plus new signings including Gil Scott-Heron. Surprisingly, it was some of their less-heralded artists—Melissa Manchester, Barry Manilow, and the Outlaws—that would bring the label some of its biggest early successes....