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Arista Records is an American record label that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony BMG, and operates under the RCA Records Group.

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. The label was named Arista after New York City’s secondary school honor society (of which Davis was a member). In early 1975, most of the artists who had been signed to Bell were let go, including Tony Orlando and Dawn and the Fifth Dimension. Others, such as Suzi Quatro and Hot Chocolate, were farmed out to the Bell/Arista-distributed label, Big Tree. Several acts, such as Barry Manilow, the Bay City Rollers, and Melissa Manchester moved to Arista.

In order to stave off bankruptcy, Columbia Pictures first sold its Screen Gems-Columbia (Colgems) music publishing to EMI in 1976 and then sold Arista to German-based Ariola Records in 1979. By 1986, after Ariola purchased General Electric’s RCA Records, the combined company was renamed Bertelsmann Music Group (though Arista’s US releases did not note BMG until 1987.)

Into the 1980s, Arista continued its rocket ride of success.

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