Branson first achieved notoriety with Virgin Records, a record label that started out with multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield and introduced bands like the Sex Pistols and Culture Club to the world music scene. Branson was knighted by the Queen for his business prowess and exuberance for the spirit of the United Kingdom. Known for his wacky exploits used to promote his businesses, Branson is keen on playful antagonisms, exemplified by his "Mine is bigger than yours" decals on the new Airbus A340-600 jets used by his airline. He has also made several unsuccessful attempts to fly in a hot air balloon around the world.
In October 2003, Branson annouced he would be teaming up with balloonist Steve Fossett to attempt to break the record for non-stop flying around the world. A new plane, the Global Flyer will be built specially for the attempt.
Branson appears in the 2002 List of "100 Greatest Britons" (sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public), alongside others ranging from Winston Churchill and Isaac Newton to David Beckham and Aleister Crowley.