Music manager, promoter, and impresario Robert Stigwood died today at age 81. He's a familiar name in the music biz: That's the logo of his record company (Robert Stigwood Organisation) to the right there, which most famously released the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack in 1977. He also managed the Bee Gees and Cream, and his name pops up with regularity in the biographies of British bands from the '60s that I read as devotedly as freedom-loving jamokes holed up in bird sanctuaries clutch their copies of the US Constitution. But I've never been totally sure who exactly Stigwood was, or what he did.

Reading about him today, on the day of his death, I'm discovering that Stigwood was basically the epicenter of English rock music at a certain time period during the late '60s, as a concert promoter for the likes of the Who, as well as a record producer and manager—basically having his fingers in all available pies. He once tried to make a deal with Brian Epstein to take over the Beatles' management, but the band nixed it (after Epstein's death, they later took Allen Klein aboard, who was probably much worse).

Stigwood also got into theater and film, staging productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair, and producing films like the aforementioned Saturday Night Fever and Grease. He met his biggest failure with 1978's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, a movie still denigrated as one of the worst ever made, and which I still have never seen (but having heard Aerosmith's shitty version of "Come Together," I'm willing to trust word of mouth).

What Stigwood represents is the transformation of beat and rock music into pop culture phenomenons, as youth culture and musical expression exploded at the same time. Stigwood was there to make money from the public, and from the musicians he worked with, but he also enabled them to interact with each other—almost every group Stigwood worked with went on to be hugely successful, with wide-reaching audiences. In the '70s he expanded his scope to include cinema, trying to find the largest possible platform for the music he promoted. For better or worse, the megalith music companies that exist today were built in part by ambitious people like Stigwood.

After the jump, I'm posting some videos from acts that Stigwood worked with during his career. It's an impressive and necessarily incomplete list, including Joe Meek, Cream, the Bee Gees, and more. RIP, Mr. Stigwood.

The Tornados - "Telstar" (produced by Joe Meek)

Cream - "I Feel Free"

The Bee Gees - "To Love Somebody"

Oscar - "Over the Wall We Go" (written by David Bowie)

The Who - "Substitute"

Carl Anderson - "Superstar" (from the film Jesus Christ Superstar)

Yvonne Elliman - "If I Can't Have You" (from the film Saturday Night Fever)

Suzi Quatro - "Rock Hard" (from the Stigwood-produced movie Times Square)