Recorded music business veteran John Preston has sadly passed away aged 67, prompting a flood of tributes from across the industry.
John, who died on Sunday (19 November) following a brief illness, worked within the business for three decades, beginning his career at Bruce’s Record Shops in Scotland in the mid-seventies.
In 1977 He moved to EMI Records in artist development, working with Kate Bush before joining Decca.
From there, he became managing director of Polydor Records UK from 1984 to 1985 before moving to the same role at RCA Records UK for a further four years. He then took up the post of BMG Entertainment from 1989 to 1998.
John was also a long-standing member of BPI Council for much of the nineties, including two years as BPI Chairman (1996 – 1997). He was additionally a trustee of the music industry charity The BRIT Trust for four years.
Many iconic artists emerged under his leadership at various record labels over the years, including Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, M People and Take That.
On hearing the news of his sad passing, the recorded music industry has come together to offer their profound condolences to John’s widow Roz and to his close family.
Annie Lennox said: ‘It’s very challenging to write about John in the past tense. His passing seems premature and untimely. I’m barely processing this very sad news through the qualities that immediately spring to mind as I think of him with much affection.
‘He was kind, thoughtful, highly intelligent, compassionate, gentle, humorous, supportive, trustworthy, loyal, decent and honourable. It’s unusual to encounter these attributes in people working at the top of an industry known more for it’s hard driven cut- throat competitiveness.
‘John had a deep passion for music. His heart and soul remained intact. He was a thoroughly good man – a rare diamond. Dave and I appreciated everything he did, for and with us. We can only extend our heartfelt deepest sympathy to Roz – his life partner and greatest love.’
Andy Heath, UK Music chairman, added: ‘John Preston always had a smile about him and it was always a pleasure to be with him. He was always courteous, correct but a formidable negotiator behind that bonhomie. For a man who held exalted positions in the music industry, he maintained a wonderful relationship with artists that he worked with. I remember at a party thrown for him, the Eurythmics reformed for that one night and anyone who works with world-famous artists knows what a compliment that is.
‘I was so saddened and shocked at the news of his death. We have lost a great ambassador for our industry and a very bright, intelligent and witty executive, he will be greatly missed. Our thoughts go to his wife Roz and all his friends and family.’
Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI & BRIT Awards, said: ‘We’re so very sorry to learn of John’s passing. As former colleagues who had the privilege of working with him and who held him in the very highest regard, we share the profound sense of loss with his wife Roz, and with his close family and friends, to whom we extend our profound condolences.
‘John was a luminary who contributed hugely to our industry – leading some of its most dynamic record labels with his pioneering approach at a time of remarkable growth and success for the industry. In the process he helped to launch and develop the careers of iconic artists and talented young music executives.
‘We will also always be grateful for the direction he helped to give the BPI as its chairman and as a council member, and for his important work as a valued trustee of The BRIT Trust in the charity’s formative years. He will be greatly missed.’