Founded by a very young Richard Branson in the early 70s as a mail-order retailer, they branched out into their own productions with Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells and LPs by Gong, et al - a hippie smørgasbord of music. And then the Sex Pistols. Virgin helped define post-punk, post-hippie cool, signing XTC, Magazine, The Ruts, et al, and even had indie champs Cabaret Voltaire for a while; they started the Front Line series, an attempt to repackage Jamaican reggae for rock audiences.

But over the years they became just another giant purveyor of pop, and were bought by Thorn EMI in 1992.

It was the surprise signing of the Sex Pistols that put Virgin on the road to megalomania. The Pistols brought it so much $$$ + publicity that in the late 70s and very early-80s Virgin was the musical version of post-"Reservoir Dogs" Miramax: it become a force in the industry by signing Magazine, Simple Minds and tons of other (then) New-Wave bands. But then came the 80s as we know and fear them, and Virgin turned into just another giant purveyor of pop.

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