Tributes have been paid to form BMG Entertainment chairman John Preston, who has died after a brief illness. He was 67.

He worked in the music industry for three decades most prominently during the 1980s and 1990s boom time for the UK biz, when he was managing director of Polydor Records UK (1984–1985), managing director of RCA Records UK (1985-1989) and then chairman of BMG Entertainment (1989–1998).

Annie Lennox said: “It’s very challenging to write about John in the past tense. His passing seems premature and untimely. I’m barely processing this very sad news through the qualities that immediately spring to mind as I think of him with much affection. He was kind, thoughtful, highly intelligent, compassionate, gentle, humorous, supportive, trustworthy, loyal, decent and honourable. It’s unusual to encounter these attributes in people working at the top of an industry known more for it’s hard driven cut- throat competitiveness.

“John had a deep passion for music. His heart and soul remained intact. He was a thoroughly good man – a rare diamond. Dave and I appreciated everything he did, for and with us. We can only extend our heartfelt deepest sympathy to Roz – his life partner and greatest love.”

Dave Stewart added: “In addition to being an amazing business leader, John Preston became one of my great friends. The thing about John is that he understood artists. I remember when Annie and I first started working with him, he was such a fan and was delighted to hear me say we would have an album to release on 1st May. I told him we were going in the studio the next day. John said ‘can I hear the demos?’ and I replied, ‘no, we haven’t written any songs yet’. From that moment on he understood the Eurythmics were a different kettle of fish. We delivered the album exactly on time and it was full of hits.

“When John retired, Annie and I sprang a surprise on him for his leaving party. It was a tiny little place in Kensal Road, upstairs at Cobden Working Men’s Club. We were hiding and as we came on stage, he started crying. He used to cry a lot but it was such a sweet thing because he was a really sensitive person. That made it very easy to connect with him as an artist. Artists felt akin to him even though he was a CEO and steered a big ship. He had a gentle side to him that was actually quite rare in such a tough business. This is a really sad moment for me.

“John was one of these people who wanted to enjoy his life and live for every moment. He spent five years building a yacht with his wife Roz that they called Sweet Dreams. They sailed it all over the place. Some people come through your life and you move around, but the great moments with John and Roz stick in my mind forever.” 

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