Business News Industry People

Former Virgin Records boss Ray Cooper dies

By | Published on Wednesday 1 August 2018

Richard Branson is among those to have paid tribute to Ray Cooper, the British record industry veteran who died last weekend, aged 69. Over his long career, Cooper had stints running Virgin Records in both the UK and the US, and also worked at Island Records, Transatlantic Records, Anchor Records, Jet Records and his own Circa Records label. Artists he worked with along the way included U2, the Spice Girls, the Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson and many more.

Branson said Cooper was “an extraordinary delightful individual and an incredible talent”, adding that “Virgin Records would never have grown into the music force it became without him. Much, much love to his family”.

During his time at Virgin Records, Cooper worked in tandem with Ashley Newton, with whom he had co-founded Circa Records, and who now runs Universal’s Capitol Music Group division in the US. He has also paid tribute to his former colleague, saying: “I had the wild good fortune to be both a close friend and business ally with this vibrant, fearless, talented and kind man”.

He went on: “Together, across several decades and labels, Ray and I were blessed to be consistently in the orbit of immensely important music – but like everyone around him, I was forever surrendering to his ridiculously sharp and eccentric sense of humour. We literally laughed through the ages and I will miss him more than words can express”.

Artists Cooper worked with have also paid tribute following his passing, included Victoria Beckham. She said earlier this week: “I am saddened to hear of the passing of Ray Cooper. Ray’s guidance, support, creative and marketing ideas from the very beginning were invaluable to the success of The Spice Girls. It was obvious to all who spent time with Ray that he was not only a favourite to his team, but also a favourite to artists and their managers. Ray had passion for life and his work and it showed in his many successes. I will be forever grateful to Ray Cooper”.

Although he stepped back from full-time roles in the music industry after leaving Virgin in 2002, Cooper continued to consult on entertainment industry projects. Announcing his passing, his family confirmed that in more recent years he had been living with progressive primary aphasia, a condition that affects the brain’s ability to communicate. Memorial events are now planned for London and LA later this year.