Island Records founder Chris Blackwell will release a memoir on June 7 via Gallery Books. “The Islander: My Life in Music and Beyond,” co-written with Paul Morley, will tell the life story of the man whose musical intuition led to the international embrace of reggae and of the iconic singer and songwriter Bob Marley.
Blackwell is himself a longtime resident of Jamaica, having grown up on the island, where his family held privileged roots, and interacting with the likes of Ian Fleming, Noel Coward and Errol Flynn. His first hit was in 1964 when Millie Small covered a 1956 song called “My Boy Lollipop.” Blackwell brought the young singer to England and her single went on to sell millions of copies.
Island was founded in 1959, and Blackwell went on to sign U2, Cat Stevens, Grace Jones, Roxy Music, Traffic, Nick Drake, Tom Waits, Robert Palmer, the B-52’s and Jimmy Cliff, among other artists. But it was his discovery of Marley and the Wailers in 1972 that would lead to seminal albums and songs and help inspire a global movement to uplift the underrepresented.
“It’s over 60 years since I started Island Records, it seems a good time to write about the people and the musicians I’ve worked with and the places I’ve loved,” said Blackwell in a statement. “It’s been quite a trip.”
Indeed, Blackwell’s travels are the stuff of legend and include ownership of the Jamaican resort Goldeneye, where James Bond author Ian Fleming once lived, part of a group of vacation spots under the banner Island Outpost.