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Ben Cook Steps Down as President of Atlantic Records U.K. Over Run DMC Party Costume

"I recognize my appearance was offensive and I made a terrible mistake," he said.

Ben Cook has stepped down with immediate effect from his post as president of Atlantic Records U.K. His surprise and sudden exit from the frontline Warner label — home to Ed Sheeran, Stormzy and Twenty One Pilots — follows disciplinary actions over the exec dressing up as a member of Run DMC at a party seven years ago.

In a statement Cook said: “It is with great sadness that today I announce I am stepping down as President of Atlantic Records, U.K.” 

“Seven years ago, at a birthday party where guests were asked to come dressed as their favorite musical icon, I came as a member of Run DMC. Late last year rumors began to circulate about my appearance at that event, many of which are simply untrue. While my intention was to honor a musical hero, I recognize my appearance was offensive and I made a terrible mistake.”


Cook went on to say, “As a consequence of this, I readily agreed to disciplinary actions by my employer last year. Since then however, allegations surrounding the party have continued to be made against me. Moreover, they have been used against a wonderful company and the label I love. I have therefore come to the conclusion that I should make this statement and step down, with immediate effect.”

He added: “I am devastated that this mistake has caused upset and has called into question my commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion, values which I have championed throughout my career. I have learned a great deal from this event and will resolutely continue to champion these values moving forward.”

Cook unreservedly apologized to anyone who has been hurt by his actions. 

A spokesperson for Warner Records confirmed that Cook is leaving the label and “this will be his last week in the office.” Warner sources say Parlophone co-president Mark Mitchell will take on the leadership of Atlantic on an interim basis.

Cook was promoted to president of Atlantic U.K. in 2014 following his successful six-year tenure as president of Asylum Records U.K. where he was responsible for signing and helping develop the careers of Ed Sheeran and BRIT Award-winning dance act Rudimental, among others.

He originally joined Atlantic Records in 2007 as managing director of the Asylum imprint, which he re-launched the subsequent year. Prior to joining Atlantic Records, Cook was head of the record label division of British independent Ministry of Sound.