Richard Branson recalls what 'transformed his life' and kickstarted Virgin brand

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Richard Branson is a symbol of the successful British businessman. He has made a fortune from his many business ventures under the umbrella of the Virgin Group.

Recently, Branson told of how an album was the catalyst behind the rise of his empire.

“48 years ago, Virgin Records released the album that transformed my life and kickstarted the Virgin brand,” Branson said.

“That album was Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells: A hauntingly beautiful album that still moves me to this day.

“After setting up our first Virgin record shop in London, we had scraped together some money and bought a rundown country house and converted it into a recording studio called The Manor.

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Richard Branson recalled the album which was the catalyst for the Virgin empire (Image: GETTY)

“One day, an engineer from The Manor rang me and said he’d heard this incredible instrumental demo tape by a teenager called Mike Oldfield,” he explained.

“We went to all the major labels and Mike received rejection after rejection. So, we decided to launch our own record label to put out this album.

“It was a huge risk because it was so different to anything else that had come before it and there was no other music like it at the time.”

Branson continued: “Tubular Bells went on to be one of the biggest selling records of the 1970s.


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“Virgin became the world’s biggest independent label, signing the Sex Pistols and the Rolling Stones.”

He added: “Virgin Record’s success helped launch other businesses such as Virgin Atlantic, and the brand grew into many other industries across the world from there.”

Today, the Virgin group controls more than 400 companies across a variety of fields.

71-year-old Branson, who is from Blackheath in London, is at the heart of Virgin, which has grown exponentially over time.

Rich list

Richest people in the UK (Image: Express)

Branson opened a chain of record stores in 1972 known as Virgin Records and later Virgin Megastores.

The Virgin Records music label grew in the 1980’s and Branson also expanded into air travel, as Virgin Atlantic was launched.

Branson continued his growth into the travel industry by setting up the Virgin Rail Group in 1997 after British Rail became privatised.

His most ambitious venture, Virgin Galactic, was founded in 2004 and sought to develop commercial spacecraft.

Branson 2

The Virgin Group owns companies in various fields (Image: GETTY)

In July of this year, Branson travelled onboard a Virgin Galactic test flight to the edge of space, indicating that commercial spaceflight could be on the horizon.

Elsewhere, Branson has also written an international best-selling book, releasing his autobiography ‘Losing My Virginity’ in 1998.

Branson has also appeared on television several times as a guest star, playing himself in shows such as Only Fools and Horses and Friends.

According to Forbes, Branson’s net worth is $4.8 million (£3.4 million).

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