Virgin Records - EMI

Virgin Records - EMI

In 2004 Mediaman promoted The Chemical Brothers on its official website, and it is still showcased today.

Virgin Records began in the early 1970's as a small, independent label based in London. Today, Virgin Records is part of EMI, the third largest music company in the world. A wide array of artists call Virgin their recording home, including: A Perfect Circle, Richard Ashcroft, Beenie Man, Ben Harper, Boz Scaggs, Blue Man Group, Blur, Chemical Brothers, David Bryne, D'Angelo, Daft Punk, Fatboy Slim, Perry Farrell, Gang Starr, Gorillaz, Janet Jackson, Lenny Kravitz, Massive Attack, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Rolling Stones, Tina Turner and Yanni. The growth of Virgin Records in the United States reflects the maverick philosophy which has characterized the entire Virgin organization since its humble begining over a quarter century ago: a devotion to seeking and embracing artists who possess the talent, vision, and passion to create something new and impactful.

Virgin Records International

Virgin UK maintains three distinct channels: The Raft is the comprehensive site focused on trance, dance, ambient, and techno (such as Massive Attack, Chemical Brothers, and EBTG. Channel 3 is the pop based site with pages for artists such as 911, Kavana and The Spice Girls. This site has a magazine type feel with an editorial "Pop Goss." Eden provides an umbrella for the websites of superstar artists such as Janet Jackson, The Rolling Stones, and Enigma. Virgin Canada features materials on favorite Canadian and international artists, with extensive downloads and links to other label sites. Virgin Denmark features artist info, news, and downloads. Virgin Germany features artist news, links, press and tour information. Virgin Italy features artist info, news, tour information, and links. The Virgin Sweden site is called Details and features release information, news, and interactive programming. You can also find material on Virgin artists at our parent EMI company sites in Brazil, Malaysia, and Japan.


Virgin Records is a British recording label founded by English entrepreneur Richard Branson, Simon Draper and Nik Powell in 1972. It was later sold to Thorn EMI, and then merged with Capitol Records in 2006 to create Capitol Music Group.

Kraut- and Prog-rock origins

Branson & Powell had initially run a small record shop called Virgin Records and Tapes on Notting Hill Gate, London, specialising particularly in "krautrock" imports, and offering bean bags and free vegetarian food for the benefit of customers listening to the music on offer. After making the shop into a success, they turned their business into a fully-fledged record label. The name Virgin, according to Branson (in his autobiography), arose from a colleague of his when they were brainstorming business ideas. She suggested Virgin - as they were all new to business - like "virgins". The original Virgin logo (known to fans as the "Gemini" or "Twins" logo) was designed by English artist and illustrator Roger Dean : a young naked woman in mirror image with a large long-tailed serpent and the word "Virgin" in Dean's familiar script. A variation on the logo was used for the spin-off Caroline Records label.

The first release on the label was the progressive rock album Tubular Bells by multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield in 1973. This was soon followed by some notable krautrock releases, including electronic breakthrough album Phaedra by Tangerine Dream (which went Top 10), and The Faust Tapes and Faust IV by Faust. The Faust Tapes album retailed for 49p (the price of a 7" single) and as a result allowed this relatively unknown band to reach number 12 in the album charts. Other early albums include Gong's The Flying Teapot (Radio Gnome Invisible, Pt. 1) (V2002) and the various artists Manor Live (V2004) album.

Post-punk rebranding

Although Virgin was initially one of the key labels of English progressive rock, the 1977 signing of the Sex Pistols, who had already been asked to leave both EMI and A&M, reinvented the label as a new wave outpost. Shortly afterwards, the Notting Hill record shop (above which the label's office was located) was raided by police for having a window display of the Sex Pistols' album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols in the window. Afterwards they signed groups like XTC, Human League, Culture Club, Gillan, Simple Minds, and less successful bands like Shooting Star, the Motors, Holly and the Italians and Fingerprintz. A short-lived subsidiary label, DinDisc, had Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and The Monochrome Set during its brief 1980-81 existence. Similarly, Virgin Front Line became one of the UK's most successful reggae labels in the late '70s and early '80s.

The current Virgin logo (known informally as "The Scrawl") was created in 1982 as a hasty doodle on a cocktail napkin; rather than hiring the graphic designer, Branson simply paid him for the napkin.

The group Genesis recorded various albums for this record company beginning with 1983's self-titled effort (Virgin reissued the group's prior albums, which had originally been released on the Charisma label in the UK).

After several false starts licensing its bands to American labels like Epic (Culture Club, Holly and the Italians & Shooting Star), Atlantic (Genesis, Julian Lennon) and A&M (UB40, Human League, Simple Minds, Breathe), Virgin Records opened up its American division, Virgin Records America, in 1987 releasing the debut album by Cutting Crew and the hit single "I Just Died In Your Arms"; other Virgin America signings included Camper Van Beethoven, Bob Mould, Warren Zevon, Paula Abdul and Steve Winwood. Virgin Records America's releases were distributed by WEA until 1992. Prior to the formation of Virgin Records America, its artists were licensed in the United States to labels such as CBS, A&M, Warner Bros. Records, and others.

Purchase by Thorn EMI

Virgin Records was sold by Branson to Thorn EMI in June 1992 for a reported US$1 billion (around £560 million), with a special non-competition clause that would prevent Branson from founding another recording company during the five years following the agreement (see the final paragraph in E.U. Merger Decission IV/M202 of 27.04.1992). It now faces competition from Branson's new label: V2 Records. Branson sold Virgin Records to fund Virgin Atlantic Airways which at that time was coming under intense anti-competitive pressure from British Airways. (In 1993 BA settled a libel action brought by Branson, giving him £500,000 and a further £110,000 to his airline).

After being acquired by Thorn EMI, Virgin launched several subsidiaries like Realworld Records, Innocent Records, blues specialty label Point Blank Records, and Hut Records, and continued signing new and established artists like 30 Seconds to Mars, Brooke Valentine (Contract ended in August 2007), Beenie Man, Korn, Geri Halliwell, The Rolling Stones, The Exies, The Smashing Pumpkins, We Are Scientists, Darren Hayes, The Kooks, Bubba Sparxxx, Sharissa, Bossman, Zeitia Massiah, Lenny Kravitz, Meat Loaf, Purple Ribbon All-Stars, Placebo, Janet Jackson (Contract ended in 2006), Daft Punk, Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Massive Attack, Neneh Cherry, Blur, the Chemical Brothers, Shape:UK, Juliet, the Spice Girls, Melanie Chisholm (1995-2003), Gorillaz, Paula Abdul, Brooke Allison, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Angela Via, The Almost, Mariah Carey (Contract ended in 2002), N.E.R.D. and recently RBD, Bizzy Bone, and Swami.


Capitol Music Group

Capitol Records and Virgin Records were merged in 2006 to create Capitol Music Group after a massive restructuring of the EMI company. Stepping down as chief executive of Capitol Records was Andy Slater, per the announcement, with Jason Flom, former executive of Virgin, taking the reins as Chairman and CEO of the newly created company. (Credit: Wikipedia).




Richard Branson

The Chemical Brothers