Derek MacKillop has been tapped as exec veep/general manager of Elton John’s Rocket Records. MacKillop becomes the highest ranking exec at the label, which has its marketing, promotion and retail efforts provided by Island Records.
MacKillop will oversee all aspects of the label’s operation, while also working closely with the Island staff to promote, market and publicize the artists on the Rocket roster.
“The appointment of Derek MacKillop is exciting and important for the future of Rocket,” said John. “His creativity and experience in recording and management will mean that our artists will be getting the best person for the job. I am delighted to have him as I respect and admire his judgment.”
Long John association
Island Records prexy Johnny Barbis has had a long association with John’s Rocket imprint, having shepherded the label’s releases while he was prexy of Island and later when the label followed him to his post as chief of A&M Associated labels.
Barbis regained the Island helm last year when label founder Chris Blackwell ankled due to a dispute with Polygam prexy/CEO Alain Levy. Barbis and former EMI Records chief Davitt Sigerson were later named prexy and chairman, respectively.
“Johnny and I are delighted to be working with Derek in this new capacity,” said Sigerson.
MacKillop joins Rocket after a four year run as creative manager at John Reid Enterprises, the company owned by John’s former manager. The singer recently severed ties with Reid.
In addition to working closely with John, MacKillop co-produced the megahit live show “Lord of the Dance” with its star Michael Flatley.
Prior to his association with John, MacKillop ran his own management company, Middle Brow Management, where he worked with Lloyd Cole, among others.
“I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to run Rocket Records, and I am looking forward to being part of Davitt and Johnny’s team at Island and Polygram,” said MacKillop.
Rocket Records bowed in 1973 in the U.K. and the United States with an artist roster that included Neil Sedaka, Kiki Dee and Cliff Richard.
The label was deactivated in the early ’80s but was reopened in 1995 when John signed a multi-album deal with Polygram and Island Records.
Ironically, John left Universal’s music empire — then dubbed the MCA Music Entertainment Group — three years ago in favor of Polygram. The former’s acquisition of Polygram will return John to the fold.
In addition to John’s latest, “The Big Picture” released earlier this year, Rocket has on the boards the fall release of “Elaborate Lives: The Legend of Aida,” an Elton John/Tim Rice collaboration boasting a superstar lineup.