Nigel Grainge Dies: Signed Geldof, Thin Lizzy, 10cc

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Nigel Grainge (photo from Grainge’s website)

As a music executive whose career began in the 1970s, Nigel Grainge played an important role in establishing the careers of such popular music stars as Sinead O’Connor, Bob Geldof (with the Boomtown Rats), Thin Lizzy and 10cc. Grainge died yesterday (June 11) in Santa Monica, Calif., from complications of surgery. He was 70.

The London-born Grainge’s career began in 1970 as a clerk in the accounting department of Phonogram London (then known as Philips Records). He stayed with that company until launching Ensign Records in 1976. Among the other artists he signed at the two companies were the Waterboys, World Party, the Steve Miller Band, Eddy Grant and Graham Parker and the Rumour, among many others.

During the late ’70s Ensign had numerous U.K. Top 20 hits with British R&B, jazz-funk, dance and reggae 45s before the label shifted into a “contemporary acts” signing policy.

According to Billboard magazine, of the first 50 singles released by Ensign, more than half of them charted, “a virtually unprecedented success for the U.K. record industry.”

Nigel Grainge (r.) with Robert Plant (Photo from Grainge’s website)

Since 1995 (and his sale of the label to Chrysalis), Grainge ran a publishing company, Dizzy Heights (also sold, to Edel, in 2000).

Related: The world of radio promotion

In 2002, Nigel relocated to Los Angeles where he consulted with artists, publishing and record companies. According to a bio on his website, a recent visitor was Robert Plant, who was considering several of the songs for new projects, including a follow-up to his successful LP with Alison Krauss.

Grainge’s most recent venture was a Los-Angeles based start-up, TunesMap, a company dedicated to “visualizing the world around your favorite music.”

Grainge also served as a consultant on the HBO series Vinyl.

Watch the video for the Boomtown Rats’ “I Don’t Like Mondays”

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