Atlantic Records UK boss steps down over “offensive” Run DMC costume

"I apologise unreservedly to anyone who has been hurt"

Atlantic Records’ UK President Ben Cook has today stepped down, amid controversial rumours surrounding him dressing up as a member of Run DMC at a party.

Cook, who has been head of the major label for 12 years and has been credited as a key figure in the success of the likes of Stormzy, Ed Sheeran, Clean Bandit, Rudimental and Anne-Marie, said that he would be leaving his position after said rumours regarding his costume at a birthday party in 2012 led others to “call into question his commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion, values”.

While denying rumours about his appearance, he did admit to wearing the Run DMC costume and that it was “offensive”, as well as “apologising unreservedly to anyone who has been hurt”.



His full statement reads: 

“It is with great sadness that today I announce I am stepping down as President of Atlantic Records, UK.

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

“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.

“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.

“It has been an incredible privilege to have worked with the immensely talented artists, managers and team at Atlantic and the wider Warner family.

“I unreservedly apologise to anyone who has been hurt.”

A Warner Music Group spokesperson confirmed: “Ben Cook is leaving Atlantic UK and this will be his last week in the office.”

Music Business Worldwide report that Parlophone boss Mark Mitchell is expected to take on the role on an interim basis.

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