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NIGEL GRAINGE,
1947-2017

Nigel Grainge, the founder of Ensign Records who signed and developed Sinead O'Connor, The Boomtown Rats, Thin Lizzy and many others, died Sunday in Santa Monica of complications from recent surgery. He was 70.

Grainge, the older brother of Universal Music Group CEO Sir Lucian Grainge, created Ensign Records in 1977 after a seven year stint at Phonogram, where his jobs included managing all U.S. repertoire and Head of A&R. While there he signed Steve Miller Band, 10cc, Eddy Grant, Graham Parker and the Rumour and Thin Lizzy.

At Ensign—“N” for Nigel, “signs”—he signed Bob Geldof’s Boomtown Rats, The Waterboys and its offshoot created by Karl Wallinger, World Party, as well as O’Connor whose debut I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got would sell 12m copies worldwide.

More than half of the label’s first 50 singles charted, which was deemed an unprecedented success for the U.K. record industry.

Grainge sold Ensign to Chrysalis Records in 1984 and stayed on, running the label until 1995 when EMI purchased the imprint. He left to create a publishing company, Dizzy Heights, which was sold to the German music company Edel in 2000.

In 2002, Grainge left his native London, where he was a rabid Arsenal fan, for Santa Monica where he worked as a consultant to artists, publishers and record companies. His most recent venture was a Los-Angeles based start-up, TunesMap, a company dedicated to “visualizing the world around your favorite music.” 

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