What should we make of Richard Branson’s latest plans to get back on board with Virgin Records, the company he founded 40 years ago? He has confirmed that he is keen to join a bid to buy the company from EMI with Patrick Zelnick, the man who took Virgin Records to France back in the ‘80s. If he’s spending his days trying to hark back to his youth, he’s making a good job of it: some kite surfing with a nude model has set Old Beardy’s business 62-year-old mind off again like a firecracker.
The pair would be cashing in on the fact that Universal records may have to dump Virgin if it wants to buy up EMI, to comply with competition regulations. On his blog, Branson described the possible move as ‘a wonderful opportunity to recreate a dynamic independent label’, but didn’t really offer anything else, save a picture of his first ever store on Oxford Street back in the ‘70s. It’s rumoured that Branson would only be interested in a small stake in the new sold-off Virgin Records, and his French counterpart would wear the trousers in the deal.
Branson is famous for his attachment to this original brand, and has confessed that he wept when he had to sell it off to fund Virgin Atlantic’s war against British Airways. But that was 20 years ago and the record industry has changed dramatically since then. But we don’t reckon music will become the centrepiece of his business again: this seems more like a vanity purchase for the nice feeling to touch base with the business that spawned his Virgin empire.
Talking of vanity – the tycoon just last month introduced a strange new addition to his product line: ice cubes in the shape of his face and head for the bars in first class sections on Virgin Atlantic flights. The ice cubes bear uncanny likeness to Old Beardy, goatee and flowing mane included. Given his recent antics with space travel, children’s health centres and near-arrest on the north coast of France, the man is an enigma, whose next move is as unpredictable to us mere mortals as ever.
Whatever will he do next?