Joined: Feb. 2000
||Posted: Mar. 31 2011, 20:39
Just received from Virgin's PR Department........
Embargoed for 1 April 2011
Richard Branson and the Tubular Belle Aid Irate Mike Oldfield Fans
“Days in the Bahamas are generally clear, calm, and downright heavenly,” said Mike Oldfield, describing what it is like to wake up every day in an island paradise. “Walks on the beach, a swim in the sea, picking up a guitar, playing catch with my sons. Downright idyllic. ” On 30 March, however, his perfect day was rudely interrupted. “It was just horrible! Just horrible! Frightening!” exclaimed Oldfield, describing the day’s events. Not a hurricane nor earthquake, but a plane-load of irritated fans, who two years later still fuming over Tubular Bells the Ultimate Edition, descended upon the sleepy island like a Klingon Bird of Prey. Richard Branson, founder and CEO of the Virgin Group, was in the lead. But why?
Back up two years. In June 2009, Tubular Bells, a record that launched the career of young Mike Oldfield as a musician and Richard Branson as an entrepreneur (today the Virgin Group boasts 300 companies), was released as box set called Tubular Bells Ultimate Edition. There was a limited version of the Ultimate Edition comprising 300 copies, which included a certificate signed by Oldfield. The limited version was available by special order through an online store for an increased price. So far, so good. Except there was a mix-up with the distributors, which resulted in several copies going to the Amazon.com store rather than to the proper one. To complicate matters, the vinyl records themselves looked to be on the losing side of a game of Frisbee. Many fans were upset—they had paid extra to have a signed certificate. Other fans were quite happy, i.e., those ordering regular Ultimate Editions only to end up with a signed certificate.
Universal Music, Mike’s record company, did the best they could to make up for the mayhap. At no time was Oldfield ever implicated in the mix-up—according to all sources he had promptly signed and returned the certificates as specified.
“Imagine my mortification when here we are—my wife snapping pictures of jellyfish, the kids building a tubular bell sand castle, and me throwing a Jarre vinyl to the dog (he is great at catching those things! ) —when a plane cruises over our heads so close that you could see the spinach in the teeth of the Tubular Belle girl! [Editor’s Note: The “spinach” was probably a product of seagulls.] When I saw that bucket of bolts Tubular Belle aircraft, I knew immediately who it was. Branson just doesn’t know when to quit!”
“For the last two years, every facet of the Virgin Group has received massive complaints," according to Branson. "All companies within the Virgin Group have had their products boycotted—everyone from the airlines to mobile phones to Mates. One irate Mike Oldfield fan threw her mobile at a customer service person and landed him in hospital,” said Branson. “This thing went viral! They seem to have no idea that the Virgin Group no longer has any association with Mike Oldfield. In fact, I blame him for the plummeting of Virgin stock nearly a year and a half ago—our Group has always done well in any global recession, so that [the recession] was just not to blame. It was that Mike Oldfield.”
Having had enough, Branson decided to take matters into his own hands—or plane, as the case may be. Tubular Belle emerged from retirement to spirit a fleet of invading fans to tell Oldfield how they felt. After getting an apology from Oldfield and a signed starfish, the group continued on to Branson’s private island—indeed, 40 lucky Mike Oldfield fans will spend the next week in their own paradise. “It is much cheaper to fly 40 fans to the Islands than it is to have them and their friends boycotting Virgin.” Did this appease the fans? Not all of them. “Oldfield’s dog chased me into the water and I got sand in my eyes,” said one. Another one was disappointed not to get a vinyl. There just isn’t pleasing some folks. Oldfield declined further comment, except to say that he wishes he were still with Virgin so he could leave them all over again. He then seemed to tap a message in Morse Code on a piece of driftwood.
Jeff of SFP Photography captured a picture of the Tubular Belle landing at Nassau International Airport, The Bahamas. Thanks to Jeff for granting permission to include.
"No such thing as destiny; only choices exist." From: Moongarden's "Solaris."