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Ask Richard: What was the first record you bought?

By | Richard Branson | Founder at Virgin Group

Thank you to everyone who submitted such fantastic questions to me this month for my LinkedIn newsletter. It was difficult to pick just one question, but when Joe Gorman asked: ‘What was the first record you bought?’, I went on quite a trip down memory lane. 

The first record I bought was Bachelor Boy by Cliff Richard in 1963 (for music lovers with taste, I hasten to add that I was only 13!). I still remember all of the lyrics and I find myself singing it in the car from time to time! This record sparked a great love of vinyl, which ultimately led to the launch of Virgin Records. I was also pleased to discover Bachelor Boy was released on EMI Records, which Virgin Records now operates as an imprint of!

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The Virgin Records story began by selling mail-order records in the classified pages of Student magazine in 1970. My friends and I grew tired of how expensive and limited it was to buy records on the high street, so we used the mail order system to sell cut price records and source artists that weren’t stocked in the big stores. The demand was so high that we opened up a bricks and mortar store on Oxford Street in London, and really shook up the retail experience! The store became a community where people could meet up, listen to records, and discover underground artists. We quickly earned a reputation as an industry disruptor, which is still a big part of Virgin’s DNA to this day. From the stores, we turned Virgin Records into the world’s biggest independent record label and really established Virgin as a challenger brand.

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