Revered A&R Nigel Grainge dies, aged 70

Revered A&R Nigel Grainge dies, aged 70

Revered music industry executive and entrepreneur Nigel Grainge has died aged 70 in Santa Monica, California, following complications from recent surgery, his family has announced. 

Grainge, brother of Universal Music boss Sir Lucian, began his music career in the 1970s and went on to sign and developed recording artists ranging from Sinead O'Connor to 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.

Starting out as a credit control clerk in the accounting department at Phonogram (then known as Phillips Records and would later become Mercury Records). In 1973, he was appointed label manager for all US Repertoire where he played a key role in the success of UK hits It’s Four in the Morning by Faron Young and My Ding-A-Ling by Chuck Berry.  Grainge would eventually rise to the head of A&R for Phonogram, where he signed Steve Miller Band, 10cc, Eddy Grant, Graham Parker and the Rumour, Clover (featuring Huey Lewis) and Thin Lizzy.

In 1976 Grainge formed his own label, Ensign (“N” for Nigel, “signs”), for which he signed the Boomtown Rats, The Waterboys and World Party, and Sinéad O’Connor. The label would also release many influential reggae and jazz-funk recordings. According to Billboard Magazine, of the first 50 singles released by Ensign, more than half of them charted, “a virtually unprecedented success for the UK record industry.”

A decade later, Ensign was sold to Chrysalis Records, and Grainge embarked on his next venture, a successful publishing company called Dizzy Heights, which was sold to German music company Edel in 2000.

In 2002, Grainge moved to Los Angeles where he served as a consultant to artists, publishers and record companies, as well as a highly sought after lecturer. Grainge served as a consultant on the HBO series Vinyl.

His most recent venture was a Los-Angeles based start-up, TunesMap - an innovative company dedicated to “visualising the world around your favorite music.”  The early-stage company is currently working with several major music companies.  

A lifelong Arsenal supporter, 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.

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