Lucian Grainge — chairman/CEO of Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company — will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next Thursday (Jan. 23). Fittingly, the ceremony will take place in front of the historic Capitol Records building; Capitol is one of the several Universal-owned labels under Grainge’s domain.
Universal, recently valued at more than $33 billion, is home to thousands of artists, ranging from Taylor Swift, Drake, U2, The Weeknd and Sam Smith to iconic heritage acts like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elton John, Chuck Berry and the Motown catalog, to name but a few.
The London-born Grainge, who started his career at April Blackwood Music at the age of 19, has been with UMG since he was 24 —nearly 35 years — rising through the ranks until, when he replaced Doug Morris as chairman and CEO early in 2011, there were no rungs left to climb. He 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. Grainge joined UMG’s Polydor in 1993, rising to managing director of the British record label in 1997. He was subsequently appointed deputy chairman, and then, in 2001, chairman and CEO of Universal Music UK and earned the same title at UMG International in 2005, gaining oversight of global operations outside the U.S. He was appointed CEO of UMG in 2010, with the chairman title added the following year.
Grainge’s accolades beyond the running of UMG include an honorary doctor of music degree from the Berklee College of Music, the Spirit of Life Award from City of Hope, the Recording Academy’s President’s Merit Award and a knighthood in 2016 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II — and, as of Jan. 23, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.