Virgin

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Virgin Records (EMI owned) is a British recording label founded by British entrepreneur Richard Branson, and Nik Powell in 1972 after a period of selling discount records via their small shop in London. The name predates the record label which was set up after the music shops. The name Virgin, according to Branson (in his autobiography), arose from a colleague of his when they were brainstorming business ideas. She suggested Virgin - as they were all new to business - like “virgins”. The original Virgin logo (known to fans as the “Gemini” or “Twins” logo) was designed by British artist and illustrator Roger Dean: a young naked woman in mirror image with a large long-tailed serpent and the word “Virgin” in Dean’s familiar script.

The current Virgin logo (known informally as “The Scrawl”) was created in 1982 as a hasty doodle on a cocktail napkin; rather than hiring the graphic designer, Branson simply paid him for the napkin.

The first release on the label was the classic progressive rock album Tubular Bells by multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield in 1973 (see 1973 in music). The group Genesis recorded various albums for this record company beginning with 1983’s self-titled effort. (Virgin reissued the group’s prior albums, which had originally been released on the Charisma label in the U.K.

Although Virgin was initially one of the key labels of British progressive rock, the 1977 signing of the Sex Pistols, who had already been asked to leave both EMI and A&M, reinvented the label as a new wave outpost.

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