A new fund to support young musicians and others interested in entering the music industry has been launched in memory of former BMG chairman John Preston.
The John Preston Memorial Fund has been set up by his widow, Roz Preston, in association with the Liam Colgan Music Fund, a charity based in the Highlands of Scotland, who will manage it on her behalf.
The John Preston Memorial Fund will initially launch two annual awards for music graduates at the University of the Highlands and Islands along with two awards open to all young musicians and songwriters across the Highlands & Islands.
Iain Clark, former drummer with Uriah Heep and now chairman of the Liam Colgan Music Fund, said: “I worked with John some years ago when he was chairman of one of the European pioneers in digital music distribution companies. He was one of the most kind, decent and honourable people I’ve ever met and we went on to become good friends. I was honoured to help his widow Roz set up this memorial fund in John’s name.
“John was also a proud Scot, who I’m sure would have been delighted that this Fund is supporting young people in this remote area of Scotland. Many people simply don’t see past the stunning landscapes and natural beauty of this region but in isolated, rural areas like this, many young people often feel disconnected to the wider world. We want to give young people here, many of whom are genuinely talented and keen to get into the music business, access to the opportunities and support available to their urban counterparts, to help them pursue their ambitions. It’s something I know John would have supported 100%.”
John Preston started his career working in an Edinburgh record store, before moving to London where he worked first for EMI and later became MD of Polydor Records and then RCA before being appointed chairman and CEO of BMG Entertainment. He was also chairman of the BPI.
During his 25-year career, he worked with the likes of David Bowie, Take That, Whitney Houston, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, whilst Simon Cowell was among the many executives given early breaks by Preston.
Preston died suddenly in November 2017 after a short illness.
Annie Lennox described him as “a rare diamond”, while Alison Wenham said: “John was one of the industry’s giants, an inspirational boss”.
Throughout his career in the music industry, John was committed to finding and supporting emerging talent
BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor called Preston “a luminary who contributed hugely to our industry – leading some of its most dynamic record labels with his pioneering approach, at a time of remarkable growth and success for the industry”.
Roz Preston said: “Throughout his career in the music industry, John was committed to finding and supporting emerging talent, both among artists and business people in the music industry. He would be honoured that this Memorial Fund in his name will go towards creating awards for music students and others from across the Highlands and Islands who dream of a career in music.
“I’m really grateful to Iain and the Liam Colgan Music Fund for helping to establish this fund in John’s name to support young people keen on pursuing a career in the music business, something he would have been delighted to see.“
Any former colleagues and friends interested in donating to the John Preston Memorial Fund can do so c/o the Liam Colgan Music Fund at www.liamcolganmusicfund.com, or by contacting Iain Clark at email@example.com.