It was London’s most star-studded farewell party. Rock superstars, political heavyweights and tycoons came together to say goodbye to Lucian Grainge, who is heading to New York to become global chief executive of Universal Music, the world’s biggest record label.
Within music, Grainge, 49, is revered.Simon Cowell describes him as “the most talented music industry executive in the British pop industry.”
Grainge is currently chairman of Universal Music outside America. He has been associated with platinum discs galore. Amy Winehouse, U2, Duffy, Girls Aloud, Eurythmics, Eminem, Lady Gaga and Mika all owe their success to him. He has advised Labour and the Tories on tackling CD piracy, and was involved with the Digital Britain report.
Last night, in the ballroom at the Mandarin Oriental, Pixie Lott giggled with Gabriella Cilmi, while rock heavyweights Brian May and Roger Daltrey traded stories. Other guests included members of Stereophonics, Kaiser Chiefs, Girls Aloud and Westlife, Ronan Keating, Duffy, Lord Mandelson, Simon Fuller, Jay Kay, and Sir Philip Green. Bob Geldof delivered a funny, expletive-strewn speech. Scissor Sisters, Enrique Inglesias and Jamie Cullum performed. Guests lined up to praise Finchley-born Grainge who joined Universal in 1986.
Andrew Lloyd Webber described him as a “great man”, while Amy Winehouse revealed she called him “Uncle Lucian”.
X Factor judge Louis Walsh said: “Lucian is a one-off. He can tell if a song’s going to be a hit — and that’s a gift.”
Grainge said: “What an emotional night. But it doesn’t feel like the end of something — it feels like a new beginning.”