Ed Sheeran’s record company boss quits Atlantic over Run DMC costume

Ed Sheeran’s record company boss quits Atlantic after wearing Run DMC costume to fancy dress birthday party in ‘terrible mistake’

  • Ben Cook is credited with giving Ed Sheeran his first record deal
  • He dressed up as a member of Run DMC at a birthday party seven years ago 
  • In a statement he said he had made a ‘terrible mistake’
  • Cook added new allegations have prompted his departure from Atlantic 

Ben Cook, who gave Ed Sheeran his first record deal, has announced he’s resigned as president of Atlantic Records.

It comes after Cook admitted to causing offence by dressing up as a member of Run DMC for a birthday party, seven years ago.

Cook said in a statement that he was previously reprimanded by the label for dressing as a member of the American hip-hop group, but that new allegations about his appearance have prompted his departure from the label.  

Ben Cook, (centre right) who gave Ed Sheeran (right) his first record deal, has announced he’s resigned as president of Atlantic Records

Cook, who had been at Atlantic for 12 years and was appointed president in 2014, said he’d made a terrible mistake. 

‘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.

Cook, (left pictured with Charli XCX right) had been at Atlantic for 12 years and was appointed president in 2014. In a statement he admitted to causing offence by dressing up as a member of Run DMC for a birthday party, seven years ago, and said it was a huge mistake

Cook, (left pictured with Charli XCX right) had been at Atlantic for 12 years and was appointed president in 2014. In a statement he admitted to causing offence by dressing up as a member of Run DMC for a birthday party, seven years ago, and said it was a huge mistake

‘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,’ the statement read.  

Cook first worked at Atlantic’s sister company Asylum Records, where he discovered Sheeran and, along with colleague Ed Howard, gave him his first record deal. 

Cook first worked at Atlantic's sister company Asylum Records, where he discovered Sheeran (pictured). Over the years he has also worked closely with music stars including Clean Bandit, Rudimental and Anne-Marie

Cook first worked at Atlantic’s sister company Asylum Records, where he discovered Sheeran (pictured). Over the years he has also worked closely with music stars including Clean Bandit, Rudimental and Anne-Marie

Over the years he has also worked closely with music stars including Clean Bandit, Rudimental and Anne-Marie.

Cook also helped to bring grime star Stormzy to the label last year as part of a joint venture with the rapper’s own Merky Records outfit.

A statement from Warner Music, the parent company of Atlantic, said: ‘Ben Cook is leaving Atlantic UK and this will be his last week in the office.’

Parlophone co-president Mark Mitchell will step into the leadership role on an interim basis following Cook’s departure.