A night of tears and music
- By Richard Branson -
- Feb 14, 2012
I received a Lifetime Industry Award from the Grammys the other night and whilst the evening was a bitter sweet event I thought I'd share my acceptance remarks. Perhaps they'll bring a smile or two during this sad time:
"Since I hadn’t seen Clive Davis for a number of years, he and Neil had Jane Fonda ring me to ask if I was free to accept this award tonight. He hadn't realised that my memories of Jane were rather painful.
Most people who get circumcised sensibly do it as babies. I did it when I was 21.
And even more foolishly, I watched the film Barbarella with Jane Fonda in it the very next day – and ended up splitting my stitches!
Anyway, I am delighted to accept this award on behalf of all the wonderful people who built Virgin Records to be the most successful independent -- and artist friendly -- record label of its time. Good to see a lot of the old faces here including the very special Phil Quartararo.
The Rolling Stones: one story Keith Richards didn’t tell in his book was when he was recording at our Manor Studios one day. There was a loud knock at the door. I went to open it. There was a gigantic black guy standing at the door brandishing a gun demanding to come in to see if his wife was in bed with Keith. Whilst I was assuring him he was mistaken, I saw his naked wife with a naked Keith running across the lawn behind him.
The Sex Pistols had their fair share of stories. The British police decided to prosecute us for calling the album Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols. They said bollocks meant balls and therefore the album was indecent. I rang up a linguistics professor at the local university and asked him for the real meaning of bollocks. Bollocks, he told me, was the nickname given to priests in the 18th century since they were apt to speak a load of rubbish. So the literal meaning of the album was Never Mind the Priests Here’s the Sex Pistols. I asked him if he could be our chief witness. He agreed. He then mentioned he happened to be a priest himself. I asked him if he would be kind enough to wear his dog collar. Which he did. And on THIS occasion, the Sex Pistols were acquitted.
When Bob Marley died, I went to Jamaica to sign up Peter Tosh. He refused to see me so I sat outside his house for three days until he finally took pity on me and let me in. He had the biggest box of ganga I’d ever seen. He rolled one foot spliffs and put me through a three day initiation before finally agreeing to sign with Virgin. His album was called, appropriately, Legalize It. And speaking of which, 25 years later, I’m part of the Global Drug Commission who are advocating treating all drugs as a health issue, not a criminal issue, and asking for the decriminalization of all drugs. People need to be helped, not locked up. There are more black people in American prisons today on drug charges than there were slaves in America when slavery was abolished. I believe the music industry should play its part in getting America’s discriminatory and archaic laws changed.
Anyway, thank you Neil and the Academy, and thank you Clive for all you have done for the industry.
And thank you Whitney for your lovely voice and your time with us – you will be missed."
By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group