Four decades ago, a young entrepreneur and an even younger musician kick-started what has become one of the most iconic entertainment brands in the world. Richard Branson, previously the founder of the Notting Hill-based Virgin Records and Tapes (for all your prog-rock needs), continued to build his empire by starting his own record-label in 1972, turning it into a multi-million pound business that was responsible for putting European progressive, new-wave and pop hopefuls well and truly on the global map of popular-culture.
It's a well-known fact that the even-younger musician mentioned previously, Mike Oldfield, recorded "Tubular Bells", a two-part ambient-folk epic that became Virgin Records' very first release in 1973. The label's roster swelled to include Tangerine Dream, Henry Cow, Faust, Gong and the like before an historic event dragged Britain spitting and screaming out of the mire of seventies boredom - punk.
The Sex Pistols, love 'em or hate 'em, spearheaded a wave of the new-wave, the disenchanted, the disaffected and, ultimately, the most imaginative artists of the era. Aside from signing the Pistols and, eventually, John Lydon's more resilient project PiL (more of them later), Penetration, XTC, The Ruts (soon-to-be Ruts DC), Devo, Magazine and (personal faves) Fingerprintz all vied for teenagers' pocket-money in the late '70s to early '80s, including mine.
It didn't stop there - Virgin Records was also at the forefront of mainstream electronica and roots reggae (with its earlier Front Line imprint). The Human League and Culture Club rubbed shoulders with The Mighty Diamonds, Peter Tosh, U-Roy, I-Roy and chart-toppers Althea and Donna. No pop, no style? Not a bit of it - Virgin were way out in front (although several smaller 'indies' at the time were arguably far more consistent - just ask Mute, 4AD, Rough Trade and Factory).
Later, they gave us the Spice Girls, Massive Attack and some of the artists you're about to read about. Oh and Megastores, Airlines, Media etc - but that's another story.
To celebrate 'forty years of disruption', Virgin Records 40 will gather together several past, present and future luminaries of pop for a set of shows in and around the capital.
Thus, Emeli Sandé with Professor Green, Bastille, Simple Minds, Heaven 17 and Soul II Soul will all appear in concert at Camden's KOKO during November, performing tracks from their various catalogues while provoking memories and good times.
Tickets are on sale now, at various prices.
Previously announced and earlier shows featuring Laura Marling (Bethnal Green), Jake Bugg (Brixton), CHVRCHES (Shepherd's Bush) and Boy George (also KOKO) have sold out but there are still tickets available to see PiL line-up with The Selecter in Shepherd's Bush on 21st October, priced at £28.50.