Ray Cooper, a former Virgin Records America Co-President, who helped to launch the Spice Girls to international fame, died on July 28th in Guildford, England. He was 69.
According to Variety, Cooper had been suffering from primary progressive aphasia, a rare neurological condition which affects the ability to speak, read and understand language.
Cooper started his industry career as a sales rep for Transatlantic Records, where he was eventually promoted to Sales Manager. Other early label jobs included roles at Anchor Records, and Jet Records, where he helped to establish Electric Light Orchestra.
In 1980, he shifted to Island Records as a sales director and then marketing director, handling a roster tht included U2 and Bob Marley. While at Island, he met his future Virgin Records co-president Ashley Newton, and in 1986 the two partnered to launch Circa Records in the U.K.
Circa would serve as a home to numerous influential artsts, including Massive Attack, Nenah Cherry, and Fluke but in 1995, it was acquired by Virgin and the two founders were named as Co-Managing Directors of the U.K. company.
Under the Virgin banner, Cooper and Newton would go on to sign artists such as Daft Punk, The Spice Girls, and the Verve, Variety noted.
Cooper left Virgin in 2002 and launched a Los Angeles-based management company Zama Media Management and tried to capture lighting in a bottle a second time with the Chinese girl group Twelve Girls Band.
Per Variety, Ray is survived by his domestic partner Philippa, sister Pam, daughter Becky, grandsons James and Jack, step-daughter Liana and son Christopher-Robin.