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Originally, Rhino was in the 1970s and 1980s a novelty song and reissue label, releasing compilation albums of Pop Music, Rock & Roll, and R&B hits from the 1950s through the 1980s. They were also known for releasing retrospectives of famous comedy performers, including Richard Pryor, Stan Freberg, Tom Lehrer, and Spike Jones. Starting in the early 1990s, Rhino transititioned into a full-fledged entertainment unit specializing in home video/DVD re-issues of television shows such as The Transformers, G. I. Joe, Jem, The Lone Ranger, My Favorite Martian, and Mystery Science Theater 3000, and compact disc releases of select artists and movie soundtracks.

Rhino started as a record shop in 1973 by Richard Foos. It became a record label five years later thanks to the effort of then-store manager Harold Bronson. Their early releases were mostly novelty records (with their first single being Wild Man Fischer’s “Go To Rhino Records”) and some punk rock singles; the difficulties involved in getting airplay and distribution for such material eventually caused Foos and Bronson to take the label in other directions. One of their earliest reissues were by acquiring the rights to the White Whale label including The Turtles. By the mid-1980s most of their releases were reissues of previously released recordings licensed from other companies. Superior sound quality (remastering of the original tapes was done under the direction of Bill Inglot) and creative packaging made Rhino one of the most respected reissue labels, getting rave reviews from music collectors, fans, and historians.

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