Ed Sheeran's label president Ben Cook steps down over 'offensive' Run-DMC costume

The man who gave Ed Sheeran his first record deal has stepped down following controversy over an old Run-DMC costume. (Photo: Luigi Rizzo/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Music exec Ben Cook has stepped down from his role as president of Atlantic Records over a Run-DMC outfit he wore at a party seven years ago.

Cook, who gave Ed Sheeran his first record deal, said in a statement that it was with "great sadness" that he made the announcement.

“Seven years ago, at a birthday party where guests were asked to come dressed as their favorite musical icon, I came as a member of Run-DMC,” Cook shared.

"Late last year rumors began to circulate about my appearance at that event, many of which are simply untrue."

Ben Cook of Atlantic Records (pictured in 2014 with singer Marina Diamandis) announced his exit. (Photo: David M. Benett/Getty Images for Warners & GQ)

Run-DMC were a hip-hop group comprised of Joseph "Run" Simmons, Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels and the late Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell who found fame in the 1980s with a string of hits including “It’s Tricky” and “Walk This Way.”

Cook added that while he intended to "honor a musical hero" he had made a "terrible mistake" with his "offensive" appearance. It is unclear if his costume involved blackface.

Run-D.M.C. at the 1988 Grammy Awards. (Photo: Gary Gershoff/MediaPunch/IPX)

"As a consequence of this, I readily agreed to disciplinary actions by my employer last year. Since then however, allegations surrounding the party have continued to be made against me. I have therefore come to the conclusion that I should make this statement and step down, with immediate effect."

A statement from Atlantic's parent company, Warner Music, said: "Ben Cook is leaving Atlantic U.K. and this will be his last week in the office."

They also confirmed his position would be filled by Parlophone boss Mark Mitchell on an interim basis.

Cook (with Rita Ora in 2016) experienced fallout over his Run-DMC costume. (Photo: Dave M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Warner Music)

Cook had held his role since 2014 after a six-year stint as president at Atlantic imprint Asylum Records U.K., where he helped develop Sheeran's career.

He had originally joined Atlantic Records in 2007 as managing director of Asylum.

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