Passings: Nigel Grainge, Founder of Ensign Records

by Paul Cashmere, Noise11


Nigel Grainge, the founder of Ensign Records, has died at age 70 following complications from surgery.

Grainge is the brother of Universal Music CEO Sir Lucian Grainge. Nigel founded Ensign and signed Sinead O’Connor, The Waterboys then World Party to gather a catalogue of artists that continue to this day.

Karl Wallinger of World Party said in a statement, “I must say that I had some sad news today. Nigel Grainge who ran Ensign Records and signed the Waterboys and World Party has passed away age 70. I loved playing back the stuff I had been doing when he came up to Woburn whilst I was making Goodbye Jumbo. Along with his label buddy, Chris Hill, they made it really fun and music history refernce-crazy-mad loud-voiced evening meals in local restaurants when it really would have been sensible for other guests to have been wearing headphones to avoid the total racket those two made when they were talking and arguing about music….Because they had such a wide view of where it all came from, and such amazing enthusiasm when they liked what they heard, it was a real turn on playing them the tunes. If they got the groove and it turned them on, they gave great ear!! Ensign was a great place to be – The wheels turned gently and smoothly by Doreen, our very own mother goose. It was a great label. Everybody needs to have an Ensign records…. Great times. Thanks so much Nigel! RIP”.




Grainge’s biggest hit to date was Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2U.


Grainge also signed Australia’s Flash & the Pan for Europe.


He sold the company in 1984 to Chrysalis but continued to run the label into the ‘90s until Chrysalis was sold to EMI.

Nigel’s most recent venture was as Special Advisor for the TV series Vinyl for Mick Jagger and Martin Scorcese.

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