Take That in concert.... for 13-year-old's birthday party
By JAMES TAPPER and ELEANOR MAYNE
Last updated at 20:35 02 December 2006
It was the kind of showbiz coup very, very few people could hope to pull off - persuading two of Britain's best-known groups, Take That and the Sugababes, to perform for an audience of just 200 party guests.
But then the host was Lucian Grainge, the boss of Britain's largest record label and one of the most respected moguls in pop.
His glamorous black-tie party, at London's exclusive Nobu Berkeley restaurant, was to celebrate the bar mitzvah of his 13-year-old son Elliot.
But behind the fabulous party was a poignant story. Each of the guests knew that Mr Grainge had raised his son alone after his wife Samantha suffered a tragic accident during the birth, falling into a coma as her brain became starved of oxygen.
She survived, and remains in what her parents describe as a 'waking coma', able to hear and sense her surroundings but unable to speak.
Yet despite - or perhaps because of - the tragedy, Mr Grainge has determinedly worked his way up from nothing to become chairman and chief executive of Universal Music Group's international division while raising Elliot on his own - earning the admiration of friends and colleagues.
So the 45-year-old music mogul and proud father - who joined the music industry as a teenager, plugging records to radio stations - wanted to make his son's coming-of-age celebration a sensational event.
He picked one of London's most exclusive restaurants, popular with Roman Abramovich, Christina Aguilera and Victoria Beckham, and invited guests including X Factor impresario Simon Cowell, who once called Mr Grainge 'the most talented executive in the British pop industry'.
Not all Mr Grainge's friends could be there last Saturday. U2's Bono sent a video message, as he had when Mr Grainge married his second wife Caroline in 2002, as did Eminem and Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
The highlight of the evening was the performance from Take That, a band who owe their revived career in part to Mr Grainge's belief in them. One music industry executive said: "There are few nicer men in the industry. He has tremendous energy and enthusiasm. The problem with his wife hit him hard, but he's very robust."
Mr Grainge met Samantha, a solicitor, in 1992 and they married in January 1993. But in November that year, tragedy struck.
Samantha's parents, Mervyn and Edwina Berg, paid tribute to their daughter, whom they visit every day at her nursing home.
Edwina said: "Samantha is in a waking coma. She can hear and is aware of her surroundings, but she can't talk or communicate. She can't see and she can't move. It is like being in a dream - or a nightmare.
"Sometimes when we joke about something that happened in her past she seems to laugh. But she won't have memories since the accident."
Her father Mervyn said: "She was the most effervescent and outgoing person that you could meet. She loved the fact she was going to be a mother. She was a beautiful girl in love with life."
Top: Samantha Grainge. Below: Lucian Grainge and his second wife Caroline