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BLOOD ON HIS HANDS

Guy Hands’ thoughtless dismantling of Britain’s most storied record company is the subject of a new book, Eamonn Forde’s The Final Days of EMI: Selling the Pig (Omnibus Press).

The chapter titles alone—the first is “Chicken Salad and Chicken Shit?” and the last is “Putting the Old Girl Out of Her Misery”—give us a clear idea of the author’s view of Hands and Terra Firma’s ransacking of the home of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Coldplay and so many other important acts. At least we know the sad story has a happy ending thanks to Sir Lucian Grainge and his caring, systematic restoration of the iconic brand.

Damien Morris, a former EMI staffer, has reviewed the book in The Guardian, and it’s a good read on its own.

“If the dismemberment of Britain’s biggest music company in 2011 was a cultural tragedy, then private equity buccaneer Guy Hands wore the bloodied gloves,” Morris writes. “When his company, Terra Firma, took over EMI, it was still the home of blue-chip acts such as Queen, Kate Bush, David Bowie, Coldplay, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Like many private equity outfits, Terra Firma specializes in leveraged buyouts of underperforming companies, which it puts back in the black and sells on for profit. Hands was a master of the pre-crash universe.

“Over the past 15 years, Eamonn Forde has built a reputation as one of the music industry’s most authoritative commentators. The Final Days of EMI, his first book, is an unsparing, follow-the-money inquest into the label’s ill-starred encounter with Hands. It’s primarily a business tale, but it says so much about 21st-century Britain and how we arrived where we are now.”

Read the review here, and buy the book here.

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