The Stiff Records StoryStiff-front-cover-300

by Richard Balls

More Than Just A Record Label!

Told here for the first time, the complete story of the legendary Stiff Records.

  • Published: October 2014
  • Paperback – the first 1000 available in five different colour covers!
  • Includes 2 x 8 page plates sections
  • ISBN: 9780957570061
  • Price: £16.99


Available in Kindle and paperback editions from and




  • Richard talking about the book (and playing guitar!) on BBC London Tonight
  • Videos of Richard’s top ten Stiff releases over at RTE
  • Richard’s top ten Stiff releases at The Quietus

Read this fascinating book and remember when rock was fun!

Told here for the first time, the complete story of the legendary Stiff Records. Started in 1976, by maverick music entrepreneurs Jake Riviera and Dave Robinson, Stiff changed the landscape of a moribund record industry. Both men were involved in the pub rock scene and their genius was to take un-hip pub rockers, such as Ian Dury and Elvis Costello, and turn them into cool new wavers. It didn’t stop there either, with Stiff releasing the first ever punk single (The Damned’s “New Rose”), in October 1976.

It all began in a small west London shop before going global during an eleven-year rollercoaster ride of rock ‘n’ roll excess, fights, package tours and smash hit records. Stiff were amazing marketeers, with their fund of slogans, badges, use of coloured vinyl and different packaging for the same records, appealing to the completest market. Riviera left Stiff in 1977, taking Costello with him, but Robinson soldiered on, signing Madness and the Pogues, amongst others. The label went bust in the mid-1980s, but was resurrected in 2006 by Trevor Horn’s ZTT operation and is still going to this day; witness their recent success with Sam And The Womp,

Richard Balls has interviewed over 50 people who were there – both record company staff and artists. Rat Scabies, Lene Lovich, Jona Lewie, Shane MacGowan, Wreckless Eric and more, all share their memories in this celebration of all things Stiff.

About the author

Richard Balls wrote Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Life Of Ian Dury. He lives in Norwich where he works as publicity manager for the City Council, and is a passionate fan of Norwich City. He is married with two daughters.

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