Tessa Watts

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Tessa Watts
Born Stephanie Siddons
(1945-10-25)25 October 1945
Bedfordshire, UK
Died 13 May 2014(2014-05-13) (aged 68)
Nationality British
Occupation Producer and Record Company Executive
Years active 1972–2014
Awards Palme d'Or

Tessa Watts (25 October 1945 – 13 May 2014)[1] was an English music video and music film producer. She worked with artists including Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Phil Collins, Beyoncé, INXS, and George Michael.[2] She is best known for her work at Virgin Records, and with MTV International.

Watts' career started at Virgin Records, where she was one of the original members of the Virgin team. She has been credited as suggesting the company name Virgin – as all the company's members were "virgins" to business.[3]

As Press Officer at the record company for bands including the Sex Pistols, her work plunged Virgin into the mainstream of the punk rock era.[4] Soon taking over all production at Virgin Records, she commissioned over 1,500 music videos, including Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" video. "Sledgehammer" (1987) is the most awarded music video of all time, and won Best Video Awards in the UK, Europe (including at Cannes) and the USA.[5] In 1999, it ranked at number four on MTV's 100 Greatest Music Videos Ever Made, and has also been declared to be MTV's number one animated video of all time.[6] MTV later announced that it is the most played music video in the history of the station. The video was partly animated by Academy Award winner Nick Park (of Wallace and Gromit fame); the video was Park's first job at Aardman Animations.[7]

In 1986, Watts set up the programming department for the European launch of MTV.[4] Three years later, she received a Grammy Nomination for producing Mike + The Mechanics' acclaimed music video for "The Living Years".[8][9]

In 1989, Watts was named managing director of Propaganda Films (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) in London, working with directors including David Fincher and Michael Bay.[2] In 2002, she began working with Sanctuary Records Group as the director of production. She was recruited by Metropolis Group in 2006 as an Executive Producer for the company's broadcast production division.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Watts divorced rock journalist Michael Watts, formerly of music magazine Melody Maker in 2008, with whom she has a son and a daughter, film executive Sophie Watts.[11][12] Following her divorce she moved to near Pau, France. She died of pancreatic cancer on 13 May 2014.[1]


  1. ^ a b Watts, Michael (18 May 2014). "Tessa Watts obituary". theguardian.com. 
  2. ^ a b IMDB. "Tessa Watts Filmography". Retrieved 8 January 2011. 
  3. ^ The Independent (24 May 2013). "Forty Years of Virgin". The Independent. Retrieved 24 August 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Tessa Watts and Nathan Joseph, Nathan Joseph – Renaissance Man.
  5. ^ MTV Video Music Awards (1987). "Video Music Awards". MTV. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  6. ^ MTV. Top Ten Animated Videos Countdown. 28 June 1998. Transcript at http://www.outpost-daria.com/ts_top10.html
  7. ^ Nick Park at Brit Movie, Nick Park Brit Movie.
  8. ^ Chicago Tribune (12 January 1990). "Grammy Nominations Break With Tradition". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  9. ^ IMDB. "Tessa Watts". Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  10. ^ Week, Music (6 June 2006). "Metropolis strengthens broadcast and digital divisions". Music Week. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  11. ^ Melody Maker (February 1978). "Michael Watts reports from the German film set where David Bowie is making Just A Gigolo". Melody Maker. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  12. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3685694/ IMDB