The Who Sign with Warner Bros.

The band leaves their 15-year home at RCA

March 6, 1980

After fifteen years with MCA Records, the Who have switched labels, signing a multi-album deal with Warner Bros. Records for a reported $12 million. Warners would neither confirm nor deny the $12 million figure, which only includes rights to U.S. and Canadian releases, but a spokesman for the label did call it a "big money deal."

The group's contract with MCA ran out after 1978's Who are You LP. Last year's The Kids Are Alright soundtrack was released by MCA under a one-album deal, and the Quadrophenia soundtrack came out on Polydor. It had been widely speculated that the Who would sign with Polydor, their label everywhere except the U.S. and Canada, but the band's asking price (which reportedly included a $5 million unrecoupable bonus) may have been too high. According to one source at Polydor, "It would have been nice to have them, but no one around here is crying. It just wasn't worth putting the whole company in financial jeopardy for one group."

Apparently Mo Ostin, chairman of the board of Warners, was a big reason the group signed with that label. "Mo's been a Who fanatic for years," said one source. "He's always been keenly aware of them, and he's friends with Pete Townshend and their manager. When the group became available, he went after them." The Warners contract only includes rights to group albums; Townshend is signed as a solo artist to Atco, Roger Daltrey still owes one album to MCA, and John Entwistle is without a solo contract.

This story is from the March 6th, 1980 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

More Song Stories entries »