A raft of leading music industry executives and artists have been paying tribute to the late Nigel Grainge, who has died at the age of 70 following complications from recent surgery.
The revered A&R executive and entrepreneur, brother of Universal Music boss Sir Lucian Grainge, was famed for signing and developing several international acts, including the likes of Sinead O'Connor, The Boomtown Rats, Thin Lizzy, The Waterboys, 10cc, World Party, Steve Miller Band, Eddy Grant, The Blue Aeroplanes, and Graham Parker & The Rumour, among many others.
He is survived by two daughters, Heidi and Roxie; a sister, Stephanie Grainge; two brothers, Sir Lucian Grainge and Justin Grainge; and a grandson, Jasper.
Since news of his death was announced, many have taken to social media to pay tribute to Grainge, including Bob Geldof, Eddy Grant and MMF co-chairman Stephen Budd.
Geldof said: "One of the greatest record men ever. He lived by and for music. He lived IN it. He had impeccable music taste. How many times would I play him some new track and sit trepidatiously as before a headmaster waiting for the verdict. It would often just take 5 seconds before the withering "SHIT. NEXT" or just ocassionally "brilliant. It's a smash". Or even more rarely a clutched head and " I don't BELIEVE it!!!!" - the highest approbation. He loved Irish bands. This is the man who signed Thin Lizzy and was Phil's friend. He signed Sinead. He signed The Waterboys and a thousand other songs you heard and know because he could spot them and make them hits. He saw and heard The Rats at Cork University. After the show he just talked about RnB, the Blues - music. He shepherded us young naifs through the record making process and guided these loud mouthy kids from Dun Laoire all the way to Number One. Who else would have spotted there was something more than bravado there? Certainly not the Irish press at the time. He remained a great friend and an invaluable musical sounding board. I was meant to have lunch with him next week. Now I won’t.”
“I must say that I had some sad news today," said Karl Wallinger, World Party. "Nigel Grainge who ran Ensign Records and signed the Waterboys and World Party has passed away age 70. I loved playing back the stuff I had been doing when he came up to Woburn whilst I was making Goodbye Jumbo. Along with his label buddy, Chris Hill, they made it really fun and music history refernce-crazy-mad loud-voiced evening meals in local restaurants when it really would have been sensible for other guests to have been wearing headphones to avoid the total racket those two made when they were talking and arguing about music….Because they had such a wide view of where it all came from, and such amazing enthusiasm when they liked what they heard, it was a real turn on playing them the tunes. If they got the groove and it turned them on, they gave great ear!! Ensign was a great place to be – The wheels turned gently and smoothly by Doreen, our very own mother goose. It was a great label. Everybody needs to have an Ensign records…. Great times. Thanks so much Nigel! RIP.”
The following was posted on Facebook by Chrysalis chief executive Jeremy Lascelles: “We are all desperately sad to have heard the news of Nigel Grainge’s passing. It had been a real joy to reconnect with Nigel in the past year since we became the effective custodians of his iconic label Ensign Records, discussing with him all the great signings he made, including of course Sinéad O’Connor and The Waterboys. He unearthed from his vast collection a variety of demos, out-takes and alternative versions that were a joy to listen to. More than anything else it was such a pleasure, as in years past, to hear him talk with knowledge, passion and enthusiasm about the music he cared for. Those were the qualities that guided him through his career. He should be an example and inspiration for all people, young and old, who make their living working with this precious commodity that he loved so much. Nigel we will miss you.” - Jeremy Lascelles and all at Chrysalis Records
Ian McNabb also posted on Facebook: “Very sad to hear of the passing of Nigel Grainge. Another one of the old school music business people have left us. Nigel and his like were music fans and believed in their artists, and stuck with them through thick and thin. They took chances and signed acts because they believed in their talent, and believed the public would appreciate them as much as they did. They didn't drop them at the first sign of trouble. Nigel was in the MUSIC business not the music BUSINESS. R.I.P. I x”
Nigel Grainge was, and remains, one of the very best record executives I have encountered in the Music Business.May his beautiful soul R.I.P
— Eddy Grant (@Eddy_Grant) June 12, 2017
Gutted to hear that Nigel Grainge died. One of the nicest and funnest men in music and so full of life when I saw him over recent years RIP.— Stephen Budd (@stephenbudd) June 12, 2017
We're sorry to learn of Nigel's passing & offer our condolences to his family & friends and thanks for his contribution to music https://t.co/0h98fMKeZX— bpi music (@bpi_music) June 12, 2017
Helped discover & sign Sinead O'Connor, The Boomtown Rats, Thin Lizzy, The Waterboys & many, many more. Sad news. https://t.co/LifRBuImU2— Alan Swan (@alanswan) June 12, 2017
Nigel was an outstanding A&R Man; he had passion,extraordinary knowledge & was great company. Probably owned the coolest record collection— nick stewart (@colonelstewart) June 12, 2017