Richard Branson, seen here at an air show in 2012, is a self-made billionaire who has a large conglomerate of businesses under the Virgin brand.
A young Branson is seen in London in 1969. At the age of 16, Branson dropped out of school and started an alternative youth magazine called Student. He and his friend Nik Powell also started a mail-order record business. It was called Virgin because they were new to the business world.
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Branson poses in one of his Virgin Megastores in 1979. His mail-order record business had evolved into a chain of successful record stores. By this time, Branson also had started his Virgin Records music label. Over the years, Virgin would sign notable artists such as the Sex Pistols, the Rolling Stones and Genesis.
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Branson reads the newspaper in a bathtub aboard his houseboat in London in 1984.
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In 1984. Branson formed the airline Virgin Atlantic. He got the idea after becoming stranded in Puerto Rico when his flight to the British Virgin Islands was canceled because of a lack of passengers. He chartered a private plane and sold tickets aboard the flight to other stranded travelers.
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Branson inaugurates his new airline on June 22, 1984.
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Branson pilots his speedboat, the Virgin Atlantic Challenger II, in New York Harbor in 1986. He zipped across the Atlantic in a record-breaking time of three days, eight hours and 31 minutes. He tried to break the record a year earlier, but his $2 million vessel sank.
Branson is seen with his wife, Joan, and their children, Holly and Sam, after they were married on the Caribbean island of Neckar in 1989. The island, part of the British Virgin Islands, was purchased by Branson and is operated as a luxury resort.
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Branson poses with his parents, Eve and Edward, at a reception in Los Angeles in 1991. His mother was a flight attendant and his father was a lawyer.
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Branson and Per Lindstrand sit in a capsule as they prepare to fly in a hot-air balloon in 1991. In 1987, Branson and Lindstrand became the first people to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a hot-air balloon.
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Branson is seen in his office in London in 1996. In 1992, he sold his Virgin Music Group to Thorn EMI. He said the sale would allow him to concentrate on his airline.
Branson fires up a Virgin balloon outside the city walls of Marrakesh, Morocco, in 1996.
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Branson cuddles with a young lion cub at South Africa's Sun City resort in 1996.
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Branson applies makeup before the launch of his Virgin Brides venture in 1996. The business combined weddings and honeymoons in a one-stop shop.
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US Coast Guard helicopters head back to the Barbers Point Naval Air Station in Hawaii after rescuing Branson and his co-pilots following a hot-air balloon crash in 1998. Branson and his co-pilots were attempting to fly around the world in a hot-air balloon. They started in Morocco and passed through Asia before eventually crash-landing in Hawaii. No one was hurt.