Universal Music Chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge has been hospitalized after testing positive for coronavirus, multiple sources exclusively told Variety. He is currently receiving treatment at Los Angeles’ UCLA Medical Center, sources said.
A UMG spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. Word of Grainge’s illness has rattled West Coast power players who attended his 60th birthday celebration on Feb. 29 in Palm Springs, multiple industry insiders said.
The likes of Apple CEO Tim Cook, veteran music manager Irving Azoff, and Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue attended the party 15 days ago as of Sunday, said sources. Symptoms of COVID-19, including fever and shortness of breath, can appear up to two weeks after infection. An Apple spokesperson declined to comment. A rep for Azoff did not immediately comment.
The event was held at La Quinta’s Madison Club, an enclave of private residences on a pristine golf course. Kris Jenner owns a $12 million, 7-bedroom mansion in the community. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West were recently linked to a land purchase nearby the matriarch, as was daughter Kylie Jenner. Additional residents include Rande Gerber and Cindy Crawford, Sly Stallone, Scooter Braun, Ray Romano and Alan Smolinsky, one of the owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Communal facilities at the Madison Club have been shut down in response to Grainge’s illness, said two people familiar with the matter. This includes the lush golf course and club house, said insiders. Management at the Madison Club did not respond to Variety‘s request for comment.
UMG’s Santa Monica, Calif., headquarters were closed late Friday after an unidentified employee — who apparently was Grainge — tested positive for the disease. All staffers were directed to leave the buildings “in an orderly manner,” although the discovery was made toward the end of the day and a source told Variety that most of the staff had either left for the weekend or were already working from home.
An internal memo obtained by Variety reads in part, “Previously, we have committed that if there were to be a confirmed case of coronavirus infection in any of our offices, we would immediately close that location. We have just been informed that there is a confirmed case of infection in an employee based in our 2220 Colorado Avenue offices. Accordingly and out of an abundance of caution, we are immediately closing all of our Santa Monica offices, and all Santa Monica staff are required to work from home until further notice.” The source added that management already had planned to close the offices next week.
Grainge, 60, who gave a rare in-depth interview to Variety in December, has been with the company for nearly 35 years and was named chairman/CEO in 2011. He began his career in 1979 at April Blackwood Music Publishing and held senior roles at RCA Music Publishing and MCA Records before joining UMG in 1986 to launch PolyGram Music Publishing UK. Within five years, he had led the fledgling division to become one of the top three publishing companies in that country. He rose through the ranks via senior roles at Polydor Records, Universal Music UK and UMG International ensued until he was named CEO in 2010, with the chairman title added the following year.
Just months after taking the helm, he led the company into one of the biggest deals in music business history by acquiring EMI’s recorded-music division — home to artists ranging from the Beatles to Katy Perry — in a blockbuster $1.9 billion transaction that vaulted UMG far into the lead as the world’s largest music company. UMG, which was recently valued at $33.6 billion and sold 10% of itself to Chinese giant Tencent, is now the largest music company in history, with five anchor labels — Capitol, Def Jam, Interscope-Geffen-A&M, Island and Republic — and a roster that also includes Taylor Swift, Drake, U2, the Weeknd and Sam Smith, as well as iconic heritage acts like the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Chuck Berry and the Motown catalog.