|Parent company||Warner Music Group|
|Distributor(s)||Rhino Entertainment (in the U.S.)|
WEA International Inc. (outside the U.S.)
|Country of origin||U.S.|
ATCO Records is an American record company and label founded in 1955 as a division of Atlantic Records. It was devised as an outlet for productions by one of Atlantic's founders, Herb Abramson, who had returned to the company from military service. It was also intended as a home for acts that did not fit the format of Atlantic, which was releasing blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, and soul. The Atco name is an abbreviation of ATlantic COrporation. Atco also provided distribution for other labels, including RSO Records, Volt, Island, Modern, Ruthless, and Rolling Stones Records.
For most of its history Atco was known for pop music and rock and roll, but during its early years it produced some jazz albums. These included Harry Arnold, Betty Carter, King Curtis, Herb Geller, Roland Hanna, and Helen Merrill.
Atco's rock era began with Bobby Darin and The Coasters. In the early 1960s Atlantic began to license material from international sources, leading to instrumental hit singles from Jorgen Ingmann, Acker Bilk and Bent Fabric. Starting in the mid-1960s, Atco moved into rock-and-roll with Sonny and Cher, Buffalo Springfield, Vanilla Fudge, and Cream.
In 1964 Atco released a single in the US by The Beatles, "Ain't She Sweet" (flip side "Nobody's Child", with lead singer Tony Sheridan), which had been recorded in Hamburg in 1961. With lead vocals by John Lennon, "Ain't She Sweet" reached #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in August 1964. Atco also released an album entitled Ain't She Sweet which featured the other two tracks by Sheridan and The Beatles from the Hamburg session and filled out by eight other songs covered by The Swallows.
In 1966 Atco released "Substitute" by The Who. The song was issued through an arrangement with UK Polydor Records because of the dispute The Who was having with their producer, Shel Talmy, and their contract with US Decca Records and UK Brunswick Records. This would be the only Who recording to appear on Atco, although Pete Townshend and John Entwistle would eventually sign to Atco as solo artists, and Roger Daltrey later signed a US solo deal with Atlantic.
Atlantic de-emphasized Atco in the mid-1970s, using the label mostly for hard rock acts and some British and European bands. In the mid-1970s Atco issued early albums from AC/DC. Starting in 1978, AC/DC releases were issued on Atlantic until their contract with the label ended in the 1990s.
In 1980 Atco's visibility rose with strong chart performances from Pete Townshend's Empty Glass album and the song "Cars" by Gary Numan. The last #1 hit on Atco was "If Wishes Came True" by Sweet Sensation in 1990. In 1991 Sylvia Rhone merged Atco with Atlantic's fledgling EastWest Records America label and briefly operated the combination as Atco-East West Records America. By 1994 the Atco name was dropped and the label continued operating as EastWest Records America, which then switched to sister label Elektra Records for distribution. Since then the Atco name and logo appeared only on reissues of old material like through Elektra. As of mid-2005 its most recent release (in a joint venture with Rhino Records) was the soundtrack of the Bobby Darin biopic Beyond the Sea, which starred Kevin Spacey and featured his renditions of Darin's songs.
In 2006, Warner Music Group reactivated Atco Records in conjunction with Rhino Entertainment. Scarlett Johansson, Keith Sweat, and Art Garfunkel were among the first artists signed to the label. Garfunkel issued Some Enchanted Evening on January 30, 2007. Johansson issued Anywhere I Lay My Head on May 20, 2008. Queensrÿche released its American Soldier album on Atco on March 31, 2009. The New York Dolls released its album Cause I Sez So on Atco on May 5, 2009.
The following is a list of artists who have recorded for Atco Records.