Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born 18 July 1950) is an English businessman and investor. He is best known as the founder of Virgin Group, which comprises more than 400 companies. At the age of sixteen his first business venture was a magazine called Student. In 1970, he set up a mail-order record business. In 1972, he opened a chain of record stores, Virgin Records, later known as Virgin Megastores. Branson's Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s, as he set up Virgin Atlantic and expanded the Virgin Records music label. According to the Forbes 2014 list of billionaires, Branson is the seventh richest citizen of the United Kingdom, with an estimated net worth of US$4.9 billion. (read more on wikipedia ...)
Links To Peel
Richard Branson's first appearance on radio was on Peel's "son of Night Ride" show of 18 June 1969, when he publicised his magazine Student. When Branson moved into record retailing at the start of the 1970s, his Virgin Records shops and his full-page ads for Virgin's mail-order service in Melody Maker and other pop papers were filled with the records Peel played on his shows - including US and European imports not easily found elsewhere. Sales of LPs to Peel's audience were crucial to Virgin's initial success, and at the time the company cultivated a hippyish image. When the Virgin label began, Peel played many of its early releases on his programmes and also featured sessions by Virgin artists such as Robert Wyatt, Ivor Cutler and the bands Henry Cow and Slapp Happy.
In an exclusive interview given to digital arts service The Space in 2012, Sir Richard Branson admitted that were it not for John Peel's decision to play Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells on his BBC Radio One show Top Gear, the album would not have been a global smash and the rest of the Virgin empire would never have happened.
Branson had invited John Peel to dinner to listen to the recording and would recall that 'He said it was one of the most important albums he'd ever heard'. Peel subsequently treated BBC Radio One audiences to side one of the LP on his programme (legend has it that he played the album in its entirety, but there has been no evidence from playlists that he did that). At the time, the DJ described Tubular Bells as 'certainly one of the most impressive LPs I've ever had the chance to play on the radio, really a remarkable record' and dubbed it 'an incredible start' for the fledgling Virgin Records label.
After the success of Mike Oldfield, Virgin signed such controversial bands as the Sex Pistols (one of Peel's favourites at that time), which other companies were reluctant to sign. It also won praise for exposing the public to such obscure avant-garde music as Faust, Can and Tangerine Dream who were also regularly played by Peel.
Peel in the 80s tried to get the BBC and Virgin to release the Peel Sessions, but neither the BBC nor Richard Branson were interested. In the end, Peel's business partner Clive Selwood took the initiative and released the sessions on the independent Strange Fruit label. Nonetheless in the 90s, Branson paid respect to Peel on This Is Your Life, and after Peel's death, Branson's Twitter account declared:
- "John Peel played music he loved. If he hadn’t played Tubular Bells, @Virgin would not exist."