The Islander – Island Records founder Chris Blackwell’s memoir showcases his musical genius within the world of reggae
The Islander is a lyrical memoir from Chris Blackwell, the founder of one of the greatest music labels of all time, Island Records. it tells the story of his astonishing life and career, helping to bring reggae music to the world stage and working with many international music icons, , including Bob Marley, U2, Cat Stevens, Grace Jones, Roxy Music, Traffic, Nick Drake, Tom Waits, Robert Palmer, Free, the B-52’s, John Martyn, and Jimmy Cliff.
Since its founding in 1959, Island Records has been home to legendary artists representing wildly divergent musical styles, yet who share the same maverick, outsider spirit of its founder, Chris Blackwell. Time and again, Blackwell and his Island cohorts identified and nurtured musicians overlooked by other labels.
Like many of these artists he fostered, Blackwell never took the conventional route. After a privileged early childhood in Jamaica—crossing paths with Ian Fleming, Noël Coward, and Errol Flynn—he was expelled from the elite British school Harrow for rebellious behavior at age seventeen. Within five years, he had moved back to Jamaica, and founded Island.
Intertwined with the story of Island is that of Bob Marley and the Wailers. After an impromptu meeting with the band in 1972, Blackwell produced the groundbreaking album Catch a Fire, formed a deep bond of mutual trust and friendship with Marley, and became known for helping to bring reggae music to the world stage. He also opened the first Jamaican boutique hotel, on the property of Ian Fleming’s former home, GoldenEye, where all the James Bond books were written.
This engaging memoir from one of the great raconteurs of the late 20th century makes for a giddy ride through some of that era’s most cutting-edge, enduring music. As Bono says, Blackwell “is an adventurer, an entrepreneur, a buccaneer, a visionary, and a gentleman.”
Available from Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster.
Chris Blackwell is the founder of Island Records, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and is credited with being responsible for turning the world on to reggae music. Blackwell spent his childhood in Jamaica and founded Island Records at the age of twenty-two. He went on to forge the careers of Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, Grace Jones, and U2, among many other high-profile acts, and produced records including Marley’s Catch a Fire and Uprising. Blackwell currently runs Island Outpost, a group of elite resorts in Jamaica, which includes Goldeneye—the former home of author Ian Fleming.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.