Businessman funds a drive for stardom

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The Independent Online
TO THE bands of spotty 19-year-olds flogging up and down the M1 to gigs in pursuit of a recording contract and pop superstardom, Edward Belgeonne would appear to have a few unfair advantages, writes Ian MacKinnon.

No battered Transits for him. But when you already have a large house in Sussex, run a successful mobile phone business, and have made a million-or-so pounds selling another company, you can afford to adopt a different approach.

Yet Belgeonne, 31, insists that he is not merely some rich businessman who has made his pile and is now turning his attentions to the pop world to buy himself a little success there, too.

He has, however, spent more than pounds 1,000 making 500 demo CDs - comprising a cover of the Louis Armstrong classic, Wonderful World, and a few of his own compositions - in an attempt to win a deal with a record company.

The logic is that, with his band, Gone Tomorrow (as in: here today . . . ), Belgeonne can use the expertise he acquired in business to gain a foothold in the music industry.

'If we can get some airplay and more publicity, then we will have removed any risk for a record company which would normally have to shell out a lot of money with no guarantee that they'll get it back,' Belgeonne said.

Risk is a concept that he is all too familiar with. In three years he built up the first company, Connexions, a mobile phone service provider, from one desk and one telephone to the point that it was sold in 1989 for pounds 2.5m. Some of that capital was sunk in a second company, Emtel Europe, whose telephone subscriber base is to be sold at the end of the month, netting about pounds 1.5m.

Belgeonne will remain firmly at the helm of the remaining part of the firm, but he will have time in future for his music.

(Photograph omitted)