LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson on Tuesday recalled an era of sex, drugs, and rock’n roll as he added a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to his list of accomplishments.
Branson, 68, the maverick British businessman behind Virgin Group ventures into airlines, record stores and space travel, unveiled his star with the help of singers Lance Bass and Ben Harper - two of the many musicians he signed to his Virgin Records label.
“Running a record company can be a lot of fun, and yes, it did involve sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll,” Branson said.
Branson, who was knighted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth in 2000, regaled crowds of well-wishers at the Hollywood ceremony with tales of taking Janet Jackson in a hot air balloon ride to entice her to sign with Virgin, giving British singer Boy George a refuge when he was trying to kick a heroin habit, and encountering Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards naked.
Branson said he was especially delighted to sign the Rolling Stones to Virgin Records in 1992.
“That night, I’m told, we had a party that none of us can remember,” quipped Branson, wearing a black leather jacket, jeans and open necked white shirt.
Branson founded Virgin Records in 1972, choosing the name because he lacked business experience. It went on to sign some of the biggest names in music, including the Spice Girls, the Sex Pistols and Roy Orbison, before being sold in 1992 to fund Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airways venture.
Branson also opened Virgin Megastores, selling music, games and DVDs around the world, before most were closed about 10 years ago due to the rise of digital music.
“This man is such a dreamer and has inspired so many of us,” said Bass, a member of former boy band NSYNC. “Please, never stop dreaming.”
Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Sandra Maler