Leading music industry figures, radio bosses, presenters and artists have paid tribute to popular promotions executive and music manager, Rebecca Sichel-Coates (pictured with former London Records colleague Billy MacLeod).
At London, EMI and Columbia, she worked with artists including Robbie Williams, Kate Bush, Shakespears Sister, All Saints, Doves, Louise Redknapp, Geri Halliwell and Diana Ross.
Sichel-Coates, 52, died after a long illness on December 12. She leaves a partner, Lynne, and their dog Charlie.
Tim Clark, IE: Music founder, met her at EMI in 1997 and remained a friend.
“Rebecca played a very serious role in Robbie’s early success and we are indebted to her for her hard work, her wonderful ability to sell in Robbie’s music to media and her strong advice on strategy,” said Clark.
“She worked tirelessly and was always so lovely to be with,” added Williams.
Sichel-Coates began her career as secretary on Metal Hammer magazine, went on to secure a radio plugging role at Chrysalis and, in 1987, joined London Records. During her decade at the label, she became head of radio & TV and worked with Bananarama, Fine Young Cannibals and East 17.
“She was a brilliant, talented, opinionated executive who told it like it was,” said ex-London colleague Nick Raphael, now co-president, Capitol. “The record business has lost a wonderful lady.”
“She was a fierce spirit who took no prisoners,” said ex-London boss Roger Ames.
In 1997, Sichel-Coates was poached by EMI and became director of media. She stayed for 10 years and worked with the promotions team on solo careers for Williams and Halliwell, as well as campaigns for Starsailor, Corinne Bailey Rae and the Positiva label.
Rebecca played a very serious role in Robbie’s early success and we are indebted to her for her hard work
Sichel-Coates was equally popular among the on-air talent and execs in radio and TV.
“She and Tina [Skinner] took me under their wing and I will be forever grateful,” said Scott Mills. “A lovely, lovely person who always looked out for me.”
Jeff Smith, head of music at BBC Radio 2, recalled a “boozy” and argumentative first meeting at Sound City in Norwich in the ’90s.
“The mixture of self-belief and inner softness was the key to her success,” he said. “It was also the reason why all of us in radio and beyond had so much time for her and also why she will be sadly missed.”
Jess Eldridge, former Top Of The Pops producer, remembered an awkward conversation about the show’s edit of the video to Williams’ single Rock DJ.
“She was the best in the business, deeply passionate about her artists across the board and completely fair and supportive to both the record label and the TV show,” she said.
Suzi Aplin, former producer of Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, described her as an “unstoppable force of human nature”.
One of the highlights of Sichel-Coates’ career was working with Barbra Streisand during a spell as media director of Columbia.
Sichel-Coates ran Mothership Management from 2007. Clients included musical theatre’s Ruthie Henshall and Louise Dearman.
“We shared wonderful memories and she quickly became a close friend,” said Dearman.
The family have requested that anyone wishing to make a charitiable donation in memory of Sichel-Coates to donate to Marie Curie Cancer Care, Meadow House Hospice or Dogs Trust charities.
The full tributes from Sichel-Coates' friends and colleagues are below:
“She was a fierce spirit who took no prisoners.”
Roger Ames, former owner, London Records
“Rebecca was the living embodiment of a whirling dervish - an unstoppable force of human nature who blasted instant energy from every pore whenever you were in her company. With everything she did – be it a gig, an event, a TV performance, a meeting, or a phone call – she squeezed every iota of her body and soul into being in the moment and making it the absolute greatest one it could possibly be. It's far too cliched to say Rebecca lived for the moment but it always seemed to me that that's exactly what she did. Her intense zest for life trickled not simply into her wild passion and focus for music through her work and her vibrant range of artists, but for everything it seemed she chose to turn her hand to. And that razor sharp mind of hers (while terrifying if aimed in your direction in any brief moment of heat) gifted her with a brilliant wit that could both silence and triumph the funniest room. Rebecca was a very unique, special girl. I am sorry I didn't see her in recent years. Her memory is etched on my heart forever.”
Suzi Aplin, head of non-scripted TV, Fulwell 73, former producer of Friday Night With Jonathan Ross
“David Enthoven and I first met Rebecca in 1997 when she was working at EMI as director of media. We had just started to represent Robbie Williams and Rebecca was a very important person in our team. She was such fun to work with, had a great sense of humour and was completely dedicated to our cause. Rebecca played a very serious role in Robbie’s early success and we are indebted to her for her hard work, her wonderful ability to sell in Robbie’s music to media and her strong advice on strategy. I was fortunate to have remained friends with her since she left EMI - I will miss her enormously.”
Tim Clark, founder, IE: Music
“Rebecca was a force of nature and a truly beautiful person. She cared deeply about her work and showed unrelenting loyalty to her artists, her team and those who were lucky enough to work with her. There was no situation so difficult that she couldn’t see the funny side of and find a great solution too. She was also a trailblazer, ahead of her time in many ways – a fearless champion of women in music who held her own in perhaps a more challenging environment than we find today. She built a brilliant team and brought her love of life and passion for living with her every day. I am proud and privileged to have been lucky enough to have worked with Rebecca and am a better person for knowing her.”
Mark Collen, EVP, international operations, Sony Music Entertainment
She cared deeply about her work and showed unrelenting loyalty to her artists, her team and those who were lucky enough to work with her
“Rebecca was very special to me. We shared so many wonderful memories and she quickly became a close friend and so much more than just my manager. Rebecca opened up so many doors for me in my career, giving me the opportunity to experience the most incredible things and for that I will be eternally grateful. Her passion for music, her belief in me and those she worked with was beyond belief. The world will be a duller place without her dry sense of humour, bluntness and wicked laugh.”
Louise Dearman, artist and management client
“Rebecca was very much a force of nature on all levels. When I first started working in TV and she was head of promotions at EMI, I have to admit that she scared the living daylights out of me. Whilst working on Top Of The Pops there was no feeling quite like seeing her number coming up at 8.01pm right after the live show came off air and knowing that she wasn't happy. The time that really stands out is when we made an edit on the Robbie Williams Rock DJ video that she hadn't approved (that definitely wasn't my favourite conversation ever). On the other hand, she was the best in the business, deeply passionate about her artists across the board and completely fair and supportive to both the record label and the TV show, which isn't always an easy thing. Over the years we became good friends - she loved to have fun and had a wicked sense of humour that always kept me laughing. Her strength and determination were a huge inspiration for me both professionally and personally and I'll miss her enormously.”
Jess Eldrigde, talent producer (Top Of The Pops)
“I first met Rebecca in 1989 when I was a trainee producer at BBC Radio 1 and she was running radio promotion at London Records. She was plugging Pete Tong’s FFRR label at the time and, as a huge dance music fan, I immediately warmed to her. Throughout my career, at Kiss FM, and then back again at Radio 1, Rebecca remained a key contact. Ultra-professional and willing to go that extra mile, I will always remember her as a supremely passionate advocate for her artists and their repertoire and great fun too. Many benefited from her enthusiasm and energy - and she was a great role model for women in the music industry. She will be sorely missed.”
George Ergatoudis, head of music, Apple UK and Ireland
Many benefited from her enthusiasm and energy - and she was a great role model for women in the music industry
“Rebecca was always a friendly face whenever I came into the EMI office in the early 2000s, she was an absolutely lovely and kind person, with a wicked sense of humour. I enjoyed her company very much. She was also brilliant at her job, a force of nature in a world that was still very much dominated by the old guard. We will all miss her very much.”
“When I joined Radio 1, I wasn’t even aware of pluggers. It didn’t happen to me in commercial radio. Rebecca was the first person to advise me on how fun/weird/scary it could be. She and Tina took me under their wing and I will be forever grateful. A lovely, lovely person who always looked out for me.”
Scott Mills, BBC Radio 1
"I met Rebecca at London Records in the mid-‘90s - she was a brilliant, talented and opinionated executive who told it like it was! Her passing at such a young age is a tragedy. The record business has lost a wonderful lady."
Nick Raphael, co-president, Capitol
“I first met Rebecca back in the early ‘90s when she was at London Records and I was a producer at Radio 1. She had brought a band, Faith No More I think, to perform at Radio 1’s very first Sound City event in Norwich. We had a boozy night after the show with the team and to be honest we all argued a lot, so it was an odd introduction, but those arguments were due to her strong will and view about things. I believe it was that hard-headedness and self-motivation which served her well throughout her career, tempered with the fact that, as I discovered over the years working with her, she was such a lovely and kind person. That mixture of self-belief and inner softness was in my opinion the key to her success, it was also the reason why all of us in radio and beyond had so much time for her and also why she will be sadly missed.”
Jeff Smith, head of music, BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music
“Rebecca was one of the first people I got to know when I started on Radio 1. From the off, she supported me and always made it clear that If I needed any help that I could contact her at any time. As well as everything she did for me professionally (so much to mention), Rebecca will always be an important influence in my family life. Right at the start of my relationship with Ria, Rebecca took us on a night out to see Wicked and of course got us to meet the cast. I know she would be really proud that we are now married. We'll always look back on times with Rebecca with fond memories. She is an inspiration in how to live life to the full. We would like to thank her for everything.”
Chris Stark, BBC Radio 1, and Ria Stark, Wisebuddah
When she organised her own funeral, it was her way of having it done right and getting the last word in!
“I first met Rebecca back in the ‘90s when I was working on Never Mind The Buzzcocks. She was a force of nature and a plugger you would fear! Though, once you got behind the layers she was very funny, passionate and hard-working - she wanted the best for her artists. Over the 20-odd years we knew each other, we shared many moments/memories working on various TV shows with her artists, some of them good some of them not. But we always so got to see the funny side at the end of the day. Strength and determination was always a strong point for Rebecca during the later years, so when she organised her own funeral it was her way of having it done right and getting the last word in! Rebecca will be sadly missed, especially her laughter.”
Sam Taylor, talent producer (The X Factor, Friday Night With Jonathan Ross)
“Rebecca was always someone to look up to and be inspired by. When I was a plugger at Parlophone in the late ‘90s, she was this force of nature I was in awe of – a gold standard of a promotions person. This was even more apparent when I became a fledgling radio programmer. She always had time for me, spoke zero BS and had that remarkable ability of being a bit scary and super warm simultaneously. You knew not to piss her off, but at the same time you always knew she was there for a cuppa and some advice if you ever needed it. When she left the majors and set up her own thing, I would see her regularly for breakfasts in the West End and just talk about music – her enthusiasm and belief in the new acts she was helping then was infectious, powerfully genuine and so memorable. She really was one of the best. RIP Rebecca.”
Mike Walsh, deputy programme director/head of music, Radio X
“I liked Rebecca a lot, she worked tirelessly and was always so lovely to be with.”