Starmaker Ronnie Gurr swaps music for a pop at politics

Ronnie Gurr with Boy George and a model of the Culture Club frontman
Ronnie Gurr with Boy George and a model of the Culture Club frontman
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AS a music industry guru, he is used to rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in pop.

But the man who masterminded the rise to fame of acts including Culture Club and Simple Minds is now turning his attention to the slightly more mundane world of East Lothian Council.

Former Virgin Records executive and PR man Ronnie Gurr, 52, is planning to run as an SNP candidate at next year’s election.

The father-of-two, who lives in Haddington, said he had no concerns over the change of pace. “Politics is part of everybody’s lives so I don’t see it as being a huge departure,” said Mr Gurr, who also gave Welsh chart-toppers Stereophonics their big break.

“I don’t think there’s a direct translation of skills but if I’m lucky enough to be voted in I’ll be delighted to represent the people of the ward.”

He added: “I’ve been lucky to make a career working in music since I was 18 years old. On the first day at Virgin Records I had been told we’d signed a new band and I’d have to get them in to write up a biography for the press.

“The singer was due to come in the following afternoon and so at about 2pm the next day I came back from lunch to find Boy George lying on my desk in full make-up using my trim phone. He had just appeared on the scene and it was an extraordinary sight to come back to from your lunch.”

Mr Gurr’s career began in music journalism in the 1970s when as a teenager he launched his own punk fanzine before freelancing for NME and Record Mirror.

Soon he earned a job handling press queries for Bob Geldolf’s Boomtown Rats and Simple Minds at Arista Records in London.

In 1982, at just 23 years old, Virgin Records came knocking and the budding music mogul scored a lucky break promoting Culture Club. He went on to kickstart the careers of acts including Blue Nile.

By the 1990s, Mr Gurr had taken up a position with Sony’s Columbia Records, where he signed Indie band Kula Shaker and worked with the likes of Alison Moyet and Michael Ball.

Soon he was back working as creative director at Branson’s new music label V2, where he is credited with signing Stereophonics.

Mr Gurr has been a music industry consultant for the last five years and was appointed to the British Council’s creative industries advisory committee in 2004.

He recently arranged for 13 Scottish acts to play at the South By South West music conference in Austin, Texas.

He is also the chair of Burnsong, a charity aimed at promoting Scottish songwriters.

Mr Gurr will vie for the one of the three North Berwick coastal ward seats at the May local elections.