Excerpt: When Richard Branson Signed up the Rolling Stones
One memoir is more than enough for most people - ask Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui - but Richard Branson is hardly most people. The business magnate, whose Virgin Group controls more than 400 companies in widely different sectors, has just published his second memoir, Finding My Virginity.
The roughly 480-pager details his considerable personal and professional exploits (with a hilarious “Seventy Five Close Shaves” section in the end that chronicles, well, the entrepreneur’s close shaves with mortality) with much humour by an author who prides himself on “effervescence, cheekiness and great service.”
The Quint presents an excerpt from Finding My Virginity that immortalises Branson’s journey with the legendary Rolling Stones - right from his 16-year-old self’s interview of Mick Jagger to signing a deal with the band that led to the album Voodoo Lounge.
Like a Rolling Stone
Emboldened by the success of V and FreeFest, in late 2012 we were at work on a deal to bring The Rolling Stones back to the stage. I have always loved Mick Jagger and the boys for their attitude as much as their music. Our histories have often overlapped. I was a very nervous sixteen-year-old when I first interviewed Mick for Student magazine. I can vividly remember walking to his home at 48 Cheyne Walk, my hands shaking as I carried a primitive tape recorder two feet by two wide to record the encounter. He rarely did interviews and seemed to have agreed to do it out of respect for the audacity of a spotty teenager daring to ask in the first place. It wasn’t my finest piece of journalism, but it made me love The Stones even more.
When Virgin Records got off the ground my number one target was always The Stones, and we got close to signing them on several occasions. In 1975 the band’s manager, Prince Rupert Loewenstein, tried to fob me off by demanding $3 million. I called his bluff by saying we would offer $4 million. After rushing across Europe and calling every distributor I had ever come across, I cobbled the money together. Prince Rupert was impressed, but we had started a bidding war and eventually lost out to EMI, who upped their bid to $5 million.
It put me on the band’s radar, though, and they started to record at our Manor Studio in Oxfordshire. When Keith decided to go solo, we brought him to Virgin to release his albums Talk Is Cheap and Main Offender.
When The Stones came back on the market in 1991, I was determined not to miss out again. There were rumours in the industry that they were past it, but I was convinced they had a good ten years left in them – even that guess has proved to underestimate Mick and co.’s longevity. We worked out a deal that gave us rights to their formidable back catalogue as well as releasing their fantastic album Voodoo Lounge. At the signing party above Mossiman’s restaurant, I couldn’t stop grinning, and Mick looked pretty pleased, too.
(Extract taken with permission from Penguin Random House for Richard Branson’s Finding my Virginity)
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