The year is 1973 and rock and roll is king. Richie Finestra is the owner of a record label called American Century. Due to his label's struggles, Richie is planning to sell it to Polygram and cash out. One night changes Richie forever when he sees a band that is so loud it causes the building to fall in on itself. After surviving the collapse, Richie is changed and attempts to revive American Century by finding new acts to sign.
As he tries to resurrect his music label, he faces incredible changes including his alcohol use. He becomes embroiled in the murder investigation of a radio station owner whose body is found buried. If the police catch on to Richie's involvement, it may spell the end of his life and his label. Richie also battles against a failing marriage, as his wife grows tired of the constant reappearance of his alcohol problem. Because of his decision to back out of the Polygram deal, Richie finds himself in hot water with his staff and partners at American Century. That tension puts them all at odds with each other and hampers their ability to find new acts for the label.
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Zak constructs a dangerous plan to bring down Richie; Kip's excesses threaten an important Nasty Bits gig.
After an unsettling visit with Devon and the kids, Richie weighs his options as the heat surrounding the Buck Rogers murder case is turned up. Thrown out of her aunt’s townhouse, Jamie crashes with Kip as the Nasty Bits finish their record and do a photo shoot. At American Century, Maury Gold pitches a ‘50s compilation LP, while Zak tries to fund a band for his wedding singer, Gary, aka “Xavier.” Clark and Jorge bond over an Indigo tune.
Richie grows desperate and approaches Galasso about a loan; Kip gets a crash course in the blues from Lester.
Looking to raise cash for his label, a newly sober Richie flies to LA with Zak, hoping to sell the company jet to Lou Meshejian, a rival record exec. After attending a beachfront party teeming with many of Lou's music clients, Richie and Zak head to Las Vegas in hopes of somehow convincing Elvis Presley and his manager, Colonel Parker, that the King should ditch his label and sign with American Century.
Devon seeks refuge at the Chelsea Hotel with Ingrid, a friend from her Warhol days. Meanwhile, Richie falls into a deeper well of drugs and depravity, enabled by Ingrid’s nihilistic boyfriend, Ernst. Andrea Zito rejoins American Century and immediately outlines her plans to revive the label. Kip follows an unlikely path towards recruiting Alex, a new lead guitarist for the Nasty Bits. Zak allows his raw emotions to surface at the end of his daughter’s Bat Mitzvah.
Devon joins Richie for dinner with Hannibal and Cece to help keep an important client in-house. Meanwhile, Kip is in danger of sabotaging a gig opening for the New York Dolls if he doesn't shake up the band; Richie tries to poach a known talent from a rival; and Jack gets a new job after a tense meeting with Julie.
Richie feels embarrassed at a record producers' banquet whilst a junior A&R rep attempts to court Alice Cooper.
At a record producers' banquet honoring Maury Gold, Richie is embarrassed when the emcee, rival record exec Jackie Jervis, makes a joke about the failed German Polygram deal. Later, Maury and mob cohort Corrado Galasso pay a visit to American Century to probe a detective's recent inquiry, and Joe Corso drops by to pitch Richie a demo by his banquet date, Nora.
With German Polygram executives in town to complete the deal for American Century, Richie delivers a bombshell that shocks the prospective buyers, as well as his partners, Zak Yankovich, ACR's head of promotions, and Skip Fontaine, head of sales. When the dust settles, the Germans storm out of the ACR offices, leaving Richie to face the ire of Zak, Skip and company attorney Scott Levitt.
The series opens in New York City in 1973. Richie Finestra, president of American Century Records, along with his partners, agree to sell his struggling company to German Polygram, in a deal that includes an impending distribution agreement with Led Zeppelin. But a disastrous meeting indicates the sale is going south.
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