Atlantic Records UK president Ben Cook is out after 12 years at Atlantic Records.
On Tuesday, Cook admitted to dressing up as a member of Run DMC seven years ago, and announced his departure due to the “offensive” costume.
“It is with great sadness that today I announce I am stepping down as President of Atlantic Records, UK,” he said in a statement (via Variety). “Seven years ago, at a birthday party where guests were asked to come dressed as their favorite musical icon, I came as a member of Run-DMC. Late last year rumors began to circulate about my appearance at that event, many of which are simply untrue. While my intention was to honor a musical hero, I recognize my appearance was offensive and I made a terrible mistake.”
A photo of Cook in costume has not surfaced online, but many presume he wore blackface, prompting his exit from the company.
“As a consequence of this, I readily agreed to disciplinary actions by my employer last year,” he continued. “Since then however, allegations surrounding the party have continued to be made against me. Moreover, they have been used against a wonderful company and the label I love. I have therefore come to the conclusion that I should make this statement and step down, with immediate effect.”
Cook added that he is “devastated” by this mistake, which has “called into question my commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion, values which I have championed throughout my career.”
“I have learned a great deal from this event and will resolutely continue to champion these values moving forward,” he concluded. “It has been an incredible privilege to have worked with the immensely talented artists, managers and team at Atlantic and the wider Warner family. I unreservedly apologise to anyone who has been hurt.”
Warner Music Group, Atlantic Record’s parent company, confirmed Cook’s exit, saying in a statement, “Ben Cook is leaving Atlantic UK and this will be his last week in the office.”
Cook helped launch careers of artists such as Ed Sheeran, Cardi B, and worked with artists such as Janelle Monáe, Bruno Mars, and more.
In 2014, he was named President of Atlantic Records UK. At the time he said, “For over 60 years Atlantic has been one of the world’s most iconic labels. To be appointed to run the company is an honour and I’m very excited to build on the successes that Max [Lousada] and the team have had.”
A rep for Rev Run could not immediately be reached for comment.
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