Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Tabu Records

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Parent company
Demon Music Group

Rhythm and blues

Clarence Avant

Defunct (1996)

Country of origin
United States


Tabu Records theseconddiscfileswordpresscom201302tabu201

Los Angeles, California

RCA Records (1977–1978)

Alexander O'Neal, The SOS Band, Cherrelle, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, General Caine

SOS, Hearsay, Sands of Time, On the Rise, High Priority

Tabu Productions was an American record label founded by Clarence Avant in 1975. The label, Tabu Records, focused on R&B and funk.



Avant founded the label after Sussex Records went out of business in June 1975. Tabu Record's flagship release, “Stormin'” by Brainstorm, was released in 1977. Tabu Records had a short-lived distribution pact with RCA, which lasted a year before moving to CBS Records.

The label focused on R&B and funk but expanded into other genres such as disco. Its artists included Lalo Schifrin ("No One Home", 1979) and the S.O.S. Band ("Take Your Time (Do it Right)," 1980).

Dina Andrews

The label languished in 1982, and Avant nearly lost his home in 1983 before discovering Dina R. Andrews, a young music executive who had worked for Dick Griffey's Solar Records. Andrews, who had just begun managing the duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (of the Time), met with Avant and, through her relationship with him, introduced Jam & Lewis, who produced their first recordings for Avant. Jam & Lewis went on to produce several other recordings for Avant under Dina Andrews Management.

Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis were hired to produce The SOS Band's fourth album for Tabu, On the Rise, which was certified gold on January 16, 1984. While recording in SOS's home stomping grounds in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 24, 1983, a freak snowstorm hit, grounding all flights from the city. The duo was scheduled to perform as a part of The Time in San Antonio at the Hemisfair Arena that night but couldn't make it. Subsequently, Prince, who owned and managed The Time, fired them on April 18, 1983. The duo stayed in Los Angeles and became songwriter-producers at Larrabee Studios in West Hollywood.

Working with Jam and Lewis gave Tabu a much-needed shot in the arm. They brought Cherelle and Alexander O'Neal (the original Time lead vocalist) to the label and both did well; O'Neal released his self-titled album in 1985, and Cherelle's "Fragile" hit the American R&B charts in 1984. The SOS Band had more hits with "Just The Way You Like It" in 1984 and "Sands of Time" in 1986, the album of which was certified gold on April 6, 1987. So influential was the sound that Robert Palmer covered Cherelle's "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" in 1986, and Beats International covered the SOS Band's "Just Be Good to Me" in 1990. In 1985, Cherelle and Alexander O'Neal dueted on "Saturday Love," which was a hit in the UK but caught on later with American radio. Other acts like Kid Fire and Demetrius Perry recorded on this label.

Sony era

Tabu Records, in its deal with CBS, became associated with Sony Music Entertainment in November 1987 when the Japanese group bought CBS Records. During this period, Tabu released Diamonds in the Raw by the SOS Band, which performed disappointingly. In 1991, Alexander O'Neal's All True Man was the last album Tabu Records released under the new Sony regime; it was certified gold on August 26, 1991.

A&M era

In 1991, the label resurfaced under PolyGram's A&M Records, who distributed it from 1991 until 1993, releasing four albums and about 20 singles. Avant was hired to run Motown (another PolyGram label), and, in August 1993, he brought Tabu Records under its aegis. It released collections by the SOS Band, Alexander O'Neal and Cherelle, while signing other artists such as Lucky Dube and Identity Crisis. However, this reappearance was short-lived as well.

In 1999, Seagram bought PolyGram and merged it with the MCA family of labels, which became Universal Music Group. Shortly after, Tabu Records was absorbed into A&M Records.


In 2002, Avant brought Tabu Records to EMI's reissue label the Right Stuff, which began to re-release Tabu Record's catalogue.

In 2012, Demon Music Group announced it acquired the licensing rights of the Tabu Records catalogue. The company announced the news on Facebook on Valentine's Day 2013 and released a trailer of the label's return on YouTube. The licensing agreements come with reissues of the entire catalog on compact disc as well as digital download and Vinyl. The Tabu catalogue of Alexander O'Neal and Cherrelle were made available on iTunes in Fall 2012.

Greatest-hits albums by the SOS Band, Cherelle, and Alexander O’Neal were released through Universal Music, as part of its Icon series, during 2012.


Tabu Records Wikipedia