Aylesbury music mogul’s message: “You can never put a lid on your ambitions”

Ted Cockle with Taylor Swift
Ted Cockle with Taylor Swift

If you are passionate and knowledgeable enough you can do absolutely anything - that is the message from a former Aylesbury Grammar School boy, who is now a music industry mogul.

Ted Cockle was born in Wendover in 1972, and discovered a love of music as part of Aylesbury’s 80s and 90s scene - and now he regularly rubs shoulders with the likes of Taylor Swift, Elton John and Justin Bieber as President of Virgin EMI.

Taught chemistry by Friars founder and Grammar School teacher Robin Pike, Ted was always aware of the club’s legacy in the town.

But his experience of the musical life of Aylesbury comes after the iconic club had made its mark.

He said: “We were kids that liked clubs and dancing and came to bands in a different way.

“We were all obsessed with break dancing in Friars Square, by the infamous ducks at the children’s play area.

“All of these break dancers would all go to the ducks and get chips from the Wimpey.

“There were these two brothers called Glynn and Gary Simmonds.

“Gary worked at the Perrys garage and he had a sound system and he used to bring it to the ducks on a Saturday afternoon, Glynn was the best break dancer in Aylesbury.

“Then it all mutated into a kind of casuals and mod thing, the Garrick brothers would put on events at places like the Oakfield Scout Hut, people would drink Malibu and Coke and all the casuals and soul boys would go there.”

That was in the mid 1980s, and it was not long before Ted’s musical ear turned to hip-hop and house music too.

He said: “I first went to Ibiza in 1989 and when I was setting off there had been this massive event called Sunrise in Princes Risborough, everyone was coming back and stealing bottles of milk from the doorstep.”

Ted also started putting on his own events with a group of friends at The Wellhead Arms in Wendover, which was run at the time by farmer Edward Mogford.

He said: “Evil Eddie Richards was the DJ and he played acid house music, this was in 1989, we also put on bands like Blur, Primal Scream, The Verve and Ocean Colour Scene.

“In 1991 I saw Paul Weller at The Civic Centre and he blew my mind, I am lucky to have worked with him now.”

He added: “Aylesbury is an incredible place.

“It is big enough to attract stuff, but not big enough that you don’t have to mix with all the different tribes.

“I remember Mario the mod from Turnfurlong, things like that, you couldn’t help but hear things that other people liked.”

In 1992 Ted went away to university in Bristol, but was soon back in Aylesbury to take a job in the sales department at Sony in Rabans Lane.

Soon after he met fellow Grammar School alumi Rob Stringer at a club in Wardour Street.

Rob is now chairman of Columbia Records.

This led to a job at Epic Records for Ted where he worked for 10 years.

He later moved to Island Records where he nurtured the careers of the likes of Florence and the Machine, Amy Winehouse and Mumford and Sons.

And speaking about his current role, he said: “I have been very lucky, all I ever did was go out and listen to music and read about music, I would just go out as much as possible, there were so many things out there and I just had an appetite for it.

2When we discover new bands now I like to think that I can use references that I know from the past to help them.

“It’s about nurturing talent from that first show where there are only 30 people, to playing Hyde Park for 60,000 people.”

He added: “You should never put any lid on your ambition, and Aylesbury is perfectly placed to do these things.”