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MORE VIRGIN SACRIFICES
Cooper and Newton Depart Label as Serletic Deal Closes
In the wake of producer Matt Serletic being tapped to head Virgin comes news that Virgin America Co-Presidents Ray Cooper and Ashley Newton have left the label.

Sources said Thursday that the British duo met in New York with EMI Recorded Music Vice Chairman David Munns, where Cooper and Newton’s fate at the company was sealed. Despite earlier speculation that the pair would take on different roles within EMI, they are now said to be leaving the company outright.

Earlier this week, word surfaced that EMI chief Alain Levy was preparing to announce the appointment of Matchbox 20 producer Serletic to a high-ranking position at Virgin, placing in doubt the role Cooper and Newton would play at the company.

Rumors are now swirling that EMI Recorded Music North America Deputy President Roy Lott will take a top position at Virgin, working hand-in-hand with Serletic.

Cooper and Newton received a contract extension from Levy in November of last year.

Their partnership began in 1984 at Island Records, where Newton served as A&R Director and Cooper was Marketing Director. The pair worked with acts including Bob Marley, Robert Palmer and U2. The pair went on to form Circa Records in 1988, signing Massive Attack and Neneh Cherry. Cooper and Newton later took the imprint to Virgin UK, where they were named joint Managing Directors in June 1992, reporting to the recently deposed Paul Conroy. While at Virgin UK, Cooper and Newton were widely credited with breaking the Spice Girls.

Cooper and Newton came to America in September 1997, when Ken Berry replaced Virgin America head Phil Quartararo with the duo, whom he named Co-Presidents of the label.

Levy and Munns’ latest Virgin moves come a week after cutting Mariah Carey loose, and only six months since taking over for Ken Berry and subsequently ousting Nancy Berry. Serletic’s deal at Virgin is being negotiated by attorney Joel Katz and manager Michael Lippman.

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