Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson became one of the richest men in the world while maintaining a public persona as a cheerful daredevil, attempting to break world records with sailboat and hot-air balloon crossings. Richard Charles Nicholas Branson was born in 1950, the son of a barrister and a child welfare advocate. In the late 1960s, he founded a youth-themed magazine called The Student, and then started a mail-order discount record retail business called Virgin Records, which advertised for free in his magazine's pages. The first Virgin Records shop opened in 1970 in London's Oxford Street, specializing in obscure and imported records catering to the progressive rock niche; Branson and business partner Simon Draper started the label Virgin Records in 1972 with a similar musical bent. But with the advent of punk in 1976, Virgin Records successfully rebranded itself as one of the key British punk and post-punk labels, starting with Branson's signing of the Sex Pistols after the band's loutish behavior got them kicked off two more established labels.