Ben Cook, the president of Atlantic Records and the man who first signed Ed Sheeran, has quit his job following controversy over his choice to wear a Run DMC costume to a birthday party.

Cook announced the move in a statement that saw him claim that untrue rumours about the costume, which he wore seven years ago, had circulated to such an extent that he felt he had to step down.

“Seven years ago, at a birthday party where guests were asked to come dressed as their favourite musical icon, I came as a member of Run DMC,” he said. “Late last year rumours began to circulate about my appearance at that event, many of which are simply untrue.”

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He continued: “As a consequence of this, I readily agreed to disciplinary actions by my employer last year. Since then however, allegations surrounding the party have continued to be made against me.

“I have therefore come to the conclusion that I should make this statement and step down, with immediate effect.” 

“While my intention was to honour a musical hero, I recognise my appearance was offensive and I made a terrible mistake,” he added.

Cook was the first to sign Ed Sheeran to a record deal in 2011, and also successfully signed Stormzy to Atlantic in 2018. He has similarly been instrumental in developing the careers of acts including Jess Glynne, Charli XCX and Wiley.

He became president of Atlantic Records in 2014, following stints at Atlantic subsidiaries Ministry of Sound and Asylum.

In his absence, Parlophone Records co-president Mark Mitchell will temporarily assume his role.

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