Darcus Beese

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Darcus Beese OBE (born 1969) is a British music executive and the former president and Chief Executive Officer of Island Records from his appointment in 2018 till his departure on 3 February 2021.[1] During his time at the label, he signed several top musicians including Amy Winehouse and Jessie J.[2] Beese, who has been described by Music Week as "one of the great A&R people of his or any other generation", relocated to New York City as president of Island Records USA, effective on 1 July 2018.[3][4]


Darcus Beese grew up in Fulham, London — the son of Barbara Beese and Darcus Howe[5] — and has said: "The music in my household growing up was definitely a mixture of reggae, soul and calypso. My father was from Trinidad and my mother was of mixed heritage. So, yeah, my upbringing musically ranged from soca to reggae."[6] Leaving school early, Beese worked in a hairdressing salon before eventually being employed in 1993 as a tea boy in the promotions department at Island Records,[7] where he progressed upwards through various jobs,[8] including A&R Director, and in 2008 co-president of the label, until in 2013 he became president of Island Records.[2] Among his key signings have been Amy Winehouse,[9] Jessie J, Taio Cruz, Florence & The Machine,[10] Mumford & Sons,[10] Dizzee Rascal, and Rizzle Kicks.[2]

In May 2018 it was announced by Universal Music Group (UMG) that Beese was to become President of Island Records USA, taking over from David Massey, and relocating to New York.[11][12][13] Describing Beese as someone who "has impeccable creative instincts and takes a long-term view of artist development", the Chairman and CEO of UMG, Sir Lucian Grainge, said: "Few in the music industry have Darcus’s track record of creative and commercial success.... I'm excited to support him in signing, developing and breaking many more artists."[11]

In February 2021 it was announced that Beese was leaving the label and returning to the UK "for personal reasons and to pursue new career opportunities".[1]


In 2013, Beese was made an Honorary Fellow of Falmouth University.[2]

Beese was honoured as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours list 2014 for services to the UK music industry.[14]

In 2016, he was named European Executive Of The Year by MUSEXPO Europe.[15][16]

In 2011 and 2015, The Guardian named Beese to their list of the most important people in the British music industry.[10][17]


  1. ^ a b Ingham, Tim (3 February 2021). "Darcus Beese leaves Island Records". Music Business Worldwide.
  2. ^ a b c d "Darcus Beese OBE | Honorary Fellow", Falmouth University, 2013.
  3. ^ Sutherland, Mark (24 May 2018), "The Big Interview: Island Records' Darcus Beese", Music Week.
  4. ^ Newman, Melinda (24 May 2018), "Darcus Beese Set to Start as U.S. President of Island Records on July 1", Billboard.
  5. ^ Miles, Marianne (8 April 2017), "Forever Fearless: Darcus Howe – Rest in Paradise", The British Blacklist.
  6. ^ Houghton, Ash, "Behind the Music: Darcus Beese OBE (Island Records)" Archived 1 May 2017 at the Wayback Machine, SBTV.
  7. ^ "OBE for Island Records boss who turned Amy Winehouse into a global star", Daily Express, 14 June 2014.
  8. ^ Lindvall, Helienne (15 July 2012)l, "Island Records' Darcus Beese: You sign what makes you excited", The Guardian.
  9. ^ NME News Desk (30 June 2015). "Amy Winehouse's ex-A&R man says 'Amy' should make people feel 'embarrassed' for 'murdering her'". NME. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  10. ^ a b c Sullivan, Caroline (29 January 2015). "Down with Debrett's: an alternative guide to UK music's most influential". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Darcus Beese Named President of Island Records", Universal Music Group, 24 May 2018.
  12. ^ Music Business Worldwide, "Darcus Beese Named President of Island Records In New York", Music Business Worldwide, 24 May 2018.
  13. ^ Halperin, Shirley, and Jem Aswad (24 April 2018). "Darcus Beese of Island Records U.K. to Take Helm at U.S. Label", Variety.
  14. ^ "Island Records President Darcus Beese Awarded OBE", The Voice, 17 November 2014.
  15. ^ Sutherland, Mark (13 September 2016), "The Big Interview: Island Records' Darcus Beese", Music Week.
  16. ^ "Island President Darcus Beese wins European Executive Of The Year", Island Records, 21 September 2016.
  17. ^ Fullerton, Jamie (26 May 2011). "Adele named most powerful person in music by The Guardian". NME. Retrieved 10 April 2017.

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