TL;DR If you got this article via Google because you’ve been offered rock memorabilia supposedly signed by a former Virgin Radio employee, then if it’s the person I’ve written about here, it’s probably FAKE.
In the last couple of months, I’ve had two separate emails to my blog asking me about:
In each case, the person emailing me, was doing so because they had found this blog, and contacted me as someone who had worked at Virgin Radio. They hoped I might be able to say for certain whether I knew this man.
They had bought supposedly signed albums, with the story that he had worked at “Virgin Radio Studios” between April 1996 and May 2006.
Well I worked at Virgin Radio (which was never referred to as “Virgin Radio Studios” by anyone who worked there) from late 1996 until 2014, and never knew such a person.
Virgin Radio had less than 100 employees in the station, and most people knew most people – not least because we all drank at the same pub together and went on our legendary “Weekend Aways” together. I certainly knew all our production team.
Here’s an example of the kind of thing that is being used to “authenticate” the memorabilia.
And just to be sure, when I didn’t recognise the names, I consulted a large group of old Virgin Radio colleagues to double check. Nobody recognised the name. So this wasn’t someone I’d somehow overlooked or forgotten.
Other artists seem to include David Bowie, the Ramones, Pink Floyd and Bruce Springsteen. Now possibly, over time, some of these did come into the studios for interviews from time to time. And people in programming teams absolutely on occasion took the opportunity to get photos or autographs (always being professional). But not on a mass scale as far as I’m aware. And nobody by this name.
After the second email came in, I started Googling.
This listing shows a sold “signed” Pink Floyd album for around $600.
A pretty much identical “authentication” yet with a slightly different name. The copy of the auction listing says:
My friend, Les Evenson, worked at Capital Radio, Virgin Radio and Trident Studios in London for much of the ’70s and ’80s and so he was able to get a number of album sleeves signed by bands when they came in for sessions or interviews.
Well that contradicts the note above that says he worked at Virgin between 1996 and 2006 (which he didn’t). And of course, Virgin Radio only started in 1992, so he couldn’t have been there in the 70s or 80s.
Here’s a forum discussion from eBay in 2011. There seem to be people offering surprisingly well paid jobs to front up sales in their own names rather than those who were doing the actual selling. That seems incredibly suspicious to start with.
About us, I retired from my job with EMI just over a year ago after a 45 year carer in the music industry, I worked for many other company’s over the years including the BBC, Virgin, and Live Nation (who I still do contract work for). Over this time I have put together a large collection of autographed record’s and other items.I have now joined forces with two former work colleagues both of whom still work in the industry to sell in what seems to be a quickly growing market.
About The Job, All the work would be from home so you will need your own computer and internet. The job involves listing selling a variety of items to collectors around the world. If you are self motivated and work efficiently earning can be up to £500 per week for around 15 hours work. To start with you would need to sell on Ebay so to this end you need to have your own Ebay & Paypal account’s both in good standing, you will find that it is possible to quickly build your own data base of buyers who you can then sell to directly. It is possible to start from scratch if you don’t have an Ebay account but it will take longer to achieve a good level of earnings.
If you are interested please send a email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the heading “NEXT STAGE” Please include your Ebay name your score and percentage. Please do not include any questions on this email, If we feel we can offer you a position I will send you an email telling you how everything works and at that point please feel free to ask any questions you may have.
Thanks Again and I look forward to hearing from you.
Now he’s worked for EMI and Live Nation, as well as Virgin Radio, the BBC, and Capital. But why does he need others to sell in their name? Why can’t he do it himself? That seems astonishingly dubious.
Here’s another sale made on another auction site, this time in 2018 for a Bob Marley album.
The autograph was acquired by Mr. Les Evenson.
Les started working in the music industry in London in the 1960s. He started work for Kit Lambert at Track Records, as he was in a Band at the time he thought this would be a great way to get in with the right people but soon enough he realised he would never make it as a musician.
In the early 70s he got a job a EMI taking demo records out to radio stations and record shops. After about a year he managed to get a job as an assistant to George Martin, mainly working at Abbey Road Studios.
In the min 70s he took a job at Virgin Records and was in charge of a number of record shops, he then began getting artists to come into his shops to sign records and promote their new albums.
In 1996 Les took charge of press and PR for Virgin Radio in London, he set up and oversaw every guest appearance for 10 years. He would also go to 1000s of concerts and do promo signings and tie in’s with the station.
A few more jobs there, including working for George Martin no less! Hmm.
He’s now claiming that he worked for press and PR for Virgin Radio. No he didn’t. He’s got the wrong sex for Virgin Radio’s then head of PR for a start.
It doesn’t take much more Googling to get to this discussion on an autograph collectors’ forum. Commenters there reckon our forger has a series of other pseudonyms. I can’t say definitively, but it all looks very suspicious.
Here’s another “authentification” on a very recent eBay listing for a Queen promo card.
The same generic font, but a different name – missing from the top of the eBay listing. So he also worked as a concert promoter in the mid-nineties – when he was apparently also at Virgin! What a busy individual.
Carl Kenny seems to be another name he’s using. His real one?
Someone on the Autograph Magazine website also got sent this:
Backstage Passes NHS COVID-19 DONATION SALE
Hi, I have decided to sell some of my autographed Vinyl Records in order to raise some money for the NHS during these tough times.
100% OF THE MONEY WILL GO TO THE NHS. I WILL BE DONATING THE TOTAL AMOUNT AT THE END OF APRIL VIA VIRGIN MONEY GIVING (THEY DO NOT TAKE A PERCENTAGE THEY DONATE 100% OF THE MONEY)
Stealing money that people thought was going to NHS charities would surely be utterly reprehensible.
This person is making hundreds of pounds from every sale they make, and there seems to be little that can be done to stop them.
So if you’re offered signed music memorabilia by someone pertaining to be this gentleman or someone else claiming to work at Virgin Radio, particularly signed album covers or other memorabilia, supposedly by some rock greats, beware. Especially if they come with the sort of “authentication” I’ve described here. They are very likely, in my opinion, to be fake.
Don’t touch them with a barge pole.
“This person is making hundreds of pounds from every sale they make, and there seems to be little that can be done to stop them.”
You could perhaps call 101 or report it to the Met online?
I’m not the one who’s a victim of a crime, so I probably can’t. But I have directed one correspondent to the UK’s National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre – https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/