Island Records founder Chris Blackwell to release autobiography


Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, one of the early houses of King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Jethro Tull, Free, Traffic and many more, will release his autobiography in June.

The Islander: My Life in Music and Beyond will be published by Nine Eight Books on June 2.

Blackwell grew up in Jamaica and, after being educated at Harrow School in England, eventually landed a job as a jukebox manager in Jamaica, which brought him into contact with the country’s music scene.

He founded Island Records in his early twenties, with a $10,000 start-up company provided by his parents and named after Alec Waugh’s novel. island in the sun. His early musical forays were all tied to the local music scene, but in 1964 he produced Millie Small’s over of My pacifier boywhich was a huge hit and helped establish Island Records.

The label flourished after Blackwell discovered the Spencer Davis band with Stevie Winwood, and in the 70s and 80s also featured artists like Roxy Music, John Martyn, John Cale, Nico, Fairport Convention and Spooky Tooth, and later Ultravox, Grace Jones, Buggles and U2.

The label has never forgotten its association with reggae and has notably brought Bob Marley and a host of other artists to the world’s attention.

Blackwell sold his stake in Island in 1989, and the labels now sit under the Universal umbrella. More recently, he has been involved in the management of elite resorts. In 2009, Music Week named Blackwell the most influential figure in the UK music industry for the past 50 years.

The release of the islandr coincides with Blackwell’s 85th birthday.

“It’s been over sixty years since I started Island Records,” says Blackwell. “It seems like a good time to write about the people and musicians I’ve worked with and the places I’ve loved. It’s been quite a journey.”

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Chris Blackwell

(Image credit: Nine Eight Books)

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