My friend Andy Ross, who died at the age of 65 after cancer treatment, was a hugely respected music industry executive. He’s worked with some of the biggest names in the industry and was instrumental in the famous Blur vs Oasis chart battle of the 1990s, when Britpop groups released new singles on the same day in a race for popularity. first place.
The eldest son of Ian Ross, an oil industry cartoonist, and Marlene (née Bates, now Williamson), secretary of London Management entertainment company, Andy was born in Upper Norwood, south London, and won a scholarship to Dulwich College. . He and I met in 1977 in Leicester, where he was studying social and economic history at university, while I was at university. His band the Disco Zombies was looking for a singer and I was looking for a band.
We became enthusiastic sparring partners, champions of sarcasm and irony, Andy using his imitative skills to amuse. We moved to London and he got a job in a record store in Forest Hill, followed quickly by a stint as manager of the bookies next door.
He launched the independent label South Circular Records with our single Drums Over London in 1978; his words are far too clever for our own good. Andy was obsessed with music, always enthusiastic for something new, and could pick out a track with the briefest listen.
He wrote under the pseudonym Andy Hurt and joined me in the mid-80s at Sounds magazine, where he excelled at wordplay and later coined the phrase ‘shoegazing’ to describe bands staring at their feet. rather than the public. He was introduced to (former Teardrop Explodes member) Dave Balfe, who recognized Andy’s understanding of how songs work and teamed up with him in 1986 on Food Records, which became one of the biggest great “indie” labels of his time.
They went on to strike a groundbreaking deal with EMI and had huge success with artists such as Jesus Jones, Diesel Park West, Shampoo, Dubstar and Idlewild. Most famously, Andy discovered Blur in March 1990, after seeing them play at the Powerhaus in Islington the previous November – he persuaded them to change their name from Seymour to Blur. The band would go on to sell millions of records worldwide.
The label released 100 consecutive top 100 singles, an outstanding achievement, and their list earned numerous records and No. 1 awards. Andy loved the art of the song, and his advice and pontifications on how they should sound have inspired a multitude of bands. He remained at Food until EMI/Parlophone took full control in 2000.
When the label started, he met Helen Potter, and they had a wonderful 30-year relationship, enjoying traveling and socializing with their huge circle of friends.
The Disco Zombies had been coming together for the past few years and we played our last show at Dublin Castle pub in Camden in 2018, getting a little older, not wiser. Andy was also involved in running the group, loved football and quizzes – he even appeared on Only Connect – and did a show on Boogaloo Radio in north London.
He is survived by Helen, whom he married in 2004, his parents and his brother, Simon.