Robert Stigwood, an Australian-born producer, personal manager, and music executive whose work on the films “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease” made him one of the most successful promoters of the 1970s, passed away on Monday. He was 81.
Spencer Gibb, the son of Robin Gibb, one of the three brothers that comprised the Bee Gees, confirmed the death in a Facebook post, referring to Mr. Stigwood as his godfather and “the longtime manager of my family,” but did not specify where he passed away.
About His Golden Music Career
Mr. Stigwood had a golden touch in music, theatre, and film during the majority of the 1970s, understanding early on the cross-promotional power of popular music and theatrical spectacle. He handled the Bee Gees and Eric Clapton, produced “Saturday Night Fever” (1977) and “Grease” (1978), and released multiplatinum soundtracks to those films on his label, RSO.
Eight of the 19 songs that topped Billboard’s pop chart in 1978 were issued by RSO, including several from the “Saturday Night Fever” album, such as “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever” by the Bee Gees and “If I Can’t Have You” by Yvonne Elliman.
Mr. Stigwood was dubbed “the Ziegfeld of the disco era” by Newsweek. RSO’s logo, a red cartoon cow, became a ubiquitous pop-culture trademark of the era. He was one of the music industry’s quintessential high-flying entrepreneurs, conducting business by yacht or from his mansions in Bermuda, Beverly Hills, and other locations.
The First Movie That He Produced
He produced the 1975 film “Tommy,” based on the Who’s concept album of the same name, and the 1971 Broadway production of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” establishing its longhaired creators, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, as emerging rock-opera auteurs.
On Monday, Mr. Lloyd Webber paid tribute to Mr. Stigwood via Twitter, referring to him as “the brilliant showman who taught me so much.”
Robert Colin Stigwood was born in Adelaide, Australia, on April 16, 1934. His father was an electrical engineer, while his mother was a nursing care administrator. After a brief stint as a copywriter in advertising in Adelaide, Mr. Stigwood relocated to London.
What About His First Talend Agency
In the early 1960s, he established a talent agency for actors and secured a deal with EMI as an independent record producer, which was uncommon at the time. In 1966, he became the manager of the rock supergroup Cream, whose members included Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker, and was briefly affiliated with the Beatles.
The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, had merged his company with Mr. Stigwood’s, but after Mr. Epstein’s death in 1967, the group founded Apple Corps and Mr. Stigwood established the Robert Stigwood Organization and its affiliated label, RSO. Shortly after their arrival in London in 1967, he also signed the Bee Gees, who had been child sensations in Australia, and promoted rising pop talents such as David Bowie and Rod Stewart.
The Age Of Classic Entertainment
In the late 1960s, Mr. Stigwood began his theatrical career by bringing risqué Broadway classics like “Hair” and “Oh! Calcutta!” to London. He continued to work in theatre, producing “Evita” in London in 1978, written by Mr. Lloyd Webber and Mr. Rice.
Mr. Stigwood pushed down on unlicensed performances of “Jesus Christ Superstar” in the United States, especially high school productions, to maximise profits.
His First Failure In Cinema
In 1978, when his empire appeared to be unstoppable, he failed with a cinematic adaptation of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” starring the Bee Gees, Peter Frampton, and George Burns, which reportedly cost $12 million to produce and an additional $6 million to advertise.
It was panned by critics and underperformed at the box office. Also unsuccessful were the sequels to “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease.”
In 1980, Mr. Stigwood suffered another blow when the Bee Gees sued him for $200 million, claiming he defrauded them of royalties. Mr. Stigwood countersued for defamation and breach of contract, and the parties settled out of court and reconciled in public.
RSO continued to release records into the early 1980s, notably the soundtracks to “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Fame,” but was eventually acquired by the big PolyGram, which is now a division of Universal Music Group.
Mr. Stigwood was a producer of Alan Parker’s film adaptation of “Evita” in 1996. In his later years, he was routinely named as one of the wealthiest individuals in Britain by British news outlets.
What About His Networth
Robert Stigwood was an Australian film and music producer who died in 2016 with a net worth of $300 million. The value of his music publishing company, which he sold in the 1990s, is included. The Bee Gees, one of the most successful musical groups of all time, were discovered and managed by Stigwood.
In addition to managing the band Cream, he was directly involved in the development of films such as “Grease” and “Saturday Night Fever” as well as numerous theatre performances.
What About His Influence At Height Of His Career
In the 1970s, at the height of his career, Robert was possibly the most influential figure in the whole entertainment world. In addition to owning the record company RSO (Robert Stigwood Organization), which released the albums of Cream and The Bee Gees during the height of their respective popularity, he also owned their publishing rights and reaped the majority of the income generated by his films and film soundtracks. Alone, the soundtracks of “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease” sold close to 80 million albums.