The music industry suffered its equivalent of a credit rating downgrade after Adele, hailed as the saviour of pop after winning six Grammy awards and selling 17 million albums, revealed that she now intends to depart the stage.

The all-conquering singer, whose earlier heartbreak fuelled her best-selling 21 album, said she would take up to five years off in order to focus on her relationship with boyfriend Simon Konecki, an old Etonian charity fundraiser.

Adele, 23, told US Vogue : "I am f****** off for four or five years. If I am constantly working, my relationships fail. So at least now I can have enough time to write a happy record. And be in love and be happy." She may choose to retire from showbusiness altogether. "And then I don't know what I'll do. Get married."

Whilst an extended career-break might complete the Tottenham singer's joy, it could prove disastrous for the struggling music industry. Adele's dominance of the charts generated a 1.4 per cent increase in US album sales last year, reversing years of decline. Adele's UK album sales pushed the market share of British artists to their highest levels for 15 years, the BPI said.


Her record companies, the UK independent label XL and their Stateside partner Columbia, part of the Sony Entertainment group, are anticipating a third blockbuster Adele album next year.

Like Amy Winehouse before her, it was what Adele described as a "rubbish relationship", which inspired the 21 album.

Some industry figures believe Adele could follow the example of Kate Bush, who retired from public performance and retreated into domesticity, emerging every seven years or so to present a new album. But as Adele told Vogue : "I love a bit of drama. That's a bad thing. I can flip really quickly."

- Independent