Universal Music Group's Lucian Grainge Says George Michael, Status Quo's Rick Parfitt 'Touched Millions'
In a statement sent to Billboard, the label's chairman, Lucian Grainge, writes, "Their music touched the lives of millions around the world."
George Michael, whose body was found on Christmas morning, was an English singer, songwriter, and record producer who rose to fame with the group Wham! in the '80s and later found success as a solo artist, selling over 100 million albums and winning two Grammy Awards. He was 53.
Rick Parfitt, guitarist for the band Status Quo, died Saturday (Dec. 24) in Spain at age 68.
In his letter, Grainge calls Michael "one of the most influential talents of his era" and says, "Rick was not just a brilliant musician, he was warm and kindhearted."
Read the full letter here:
I’m sad to say that last week we lost Rick Parfitt, and just yesterday, George Michael. These two great artists both recorded for our labels at various stages in their careers, helped shape the course of music history, and through their music touched the lives of millions around the world.
George Michael first found fame as a member of Wham! I have to confess that in 1981, as a young publisher I tried -- and failed -- to sign him. Thirty years later, David Joseph and I were fortunate enough to bring George into the UMG family to work with him on some singles projects, and later, in 2014, on what would become his final album, Symphonica. Over the course of a truly remarkable career, George became one of the most influential talents of his era, garnering critical and commercial success, blending the joy of pop with serious and important messages of social justice.
Nearly 50 years ago, Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi formed Status Quo. After recording 16 albums for our Vertigo label, they joined Polydor in the early 90’s where I had the honor of working with them. Rick’s work as a performer and songwriter earned the band legions of devoted fans around the world, sold more than 100 million albums and singles and spent a combined 500 weeks on the UK album chart. Along the journey, Rick and the band established themselves as members of England’s rock royalty, and -- among many honors -- earned both the opening slot at London’s Live Aid and a Brit Award for their Outstanding Contribution to the British Music Industry. Rick was not just a brilliant musician, he was warm and kindhearted.
Each in their own way, George and Rick brought joy, solace and inspiration to so many people. So even as we mourn their passing, we should be thankful for the amazing and unique music they gave us.