Ashley Forbes, A&R Administrator at EMI Records and a veteran of the label, has died following a long illness.
Forbes was a highly popular figure within and beyond EMI, where she worked for over 32 years in its various iterations (including Virgin Records, Virgin EMI, and now EMI Records).
The Scottish executive worked closely with artists across those three decades including the Spice Girls, the Chemical Brothers, Queen, Emeli Sandé and Bastille.
Ashley Newton, the former co-Managing Director of Virgin Records UK & Co-President Virgin Records America, told MBW: “I had the extreme good fortune of working with Ashley Forbes when I joined the Virgin Records management team back in the 90s. To avoid any name confusion, she adopted the moniker of Forbsie and christened me as her very first ‘Chiefy’.
“Loyal, passionate, hilarious and utterly dependable — not only was she totally brilliant at her A&R Admin job but she possessed really good creative instincts and I valued her opinion immensely during that magical era for the label. Forbsie was much loved by all those in her orbit and will be hugely missed by so many. What a legend.”
“Forbsie was much loved by all those in her orbit and will be hugely missed by so many. What a legend.”
Rebecca Allen, President of EMI Records today, commented: “We are all so incredibly sad that our wonderful colleague and friend, Ashley Forbes is no longer with us. Ashley was the heart of the label for over 32 years, and during this time she touched so many lives, both professionally and personally.
“Speaking to the team today, it has been incredible to hear their heartfelt stories, their love for Ashley was beyond that of a work colleague. She was a friend to so many of the team, always leaning in with her kindness, always putting others first, she was simply remarkable.
“Our label family will feel empty without Ashley in it, our hearts will be heavier, but as a label will strive to continue to achieve the excellence that she stood for. Her dedication to this label, to our artists, to the teams around her was exemplary. Our deepest thoughts go to her family and to her friends. She has gone too soon and we will miss her so much.”
“Ashley was the heart of the label for over 32 years, and during this time she touched so many lives, both professionally and personally.”
Rebecca Allen, EMI Records
And David Joseph, Chairman & CEO of Universal Music UK, wrote in an internal Universal memo: “In all her time at the heart of the A&R team at Virgin and EMI – Head of A&R Admin doesn’t fully reflect the magnitude of her importance – Ashley always saw her role as making things happen for other people. It was never, ever about her. It was always about the music.
“Ashley was genuinely the heart of the label and always there for anyone who needed her – countless artists but for so many colleagues also. Generosity and creativity were what made her such a wonderful, unforgettable person.”
“Ashley always saw her role as making things happen for other people. It was never, ever about her. It was always about the music.”
David Joseph, Universal Music UK
A&R consultant and former EMI/Virgin Records exec Chris Briggs commented: “Ashley was unassuming, selfless and authentically funny. A proper grown up, sensitive and kind. Came from a place where people cared about doing things the right way. Had everyone’s respect. Will be impossible to replace. A one off, never to be repeated, super bright, unique individual. She had incredible attention to detail. Read the meeting room brilliantly. Knew exactly how much you had spent recording and how likely you were to miss your deadlines. Where every tape and hard drive was located. She just wanted the music to be as good as it could be, without any desire to take credit for anything.
“She was also one of my best friends in the music industry. She would not welcome all this attention. I still wonder – did I thank her enough? It was a privilege to work with her through the EMI dramas at Wright’s Lane. I cannot believe we will never meet for dinner ever again.”
“She just wanted the music to be as good as it could be, without any desire to take credit for anything. She was also one of my best friends in the music industry.”
Forbes won a Music Business Worldwide A&R Award in 2016 for her professional achievements. The loud reception to her win across that room in London spoke volumes about the esteem in which she was held.
“The news about Ash is absolutely devastating,” said Bastille’s Dan Smith. “She was such a bloody wonderful person, so kind and funny, and a real constant for a lot of people in an ever-changing industry. I always loved getting to see her to have a massive hug and a catch up in the office.
“Ash worked across every bit of music we released since signing and we will all miss her terribly. I wish there could have been an opportunity for us all to have let her know how much we loved her and how brilliant she was.”
“She was such a bloody wonderful person, so kind and funny, and a real constant for a lot of people in an ever-changing industry.”
Dan Smith, Bastille
The Chemical Brothers and their management said in a statement: “One of a kind… Part of the fabric of Virgin Records, there for us ever since we walked through the door at Kensal Dock all those years ago. We will miss you Ash. Love, Robert, Nick, Tom & Ed.”
Emeli Sandé said: “I’m deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Ashley Forbes. She was such a special person. Always full of joy, genuine care and encouragement. I enjoyed working with her so much, I will miss her dearly. There is no doubt that her legend will live on in the hearts of everyone lucky enough to have known her and to have been touched by her kindness and sincerity.”
Everything But The Girl’s Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn commented: “She was a beacon of honesty and humour in a business often known for the exact opposite.”
And KT Tunstall said: “Music life will never be the same without Ash. She’s been like a sister at the Label to me. I spent such a memorable night with her at her friends’ home in LA a few years ago and I’ll never forget all the joy surrounding her. It was so good to see her loving life without all of us lot to worry about. Peace and love Ash, we’ll always miss you.”Music Business Worldwide