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Island Records founder Chris Blackwell to publish autobiography

Chris Blackwell
(Image credit: Murphy & Hershman & Fifty Six Hope Road Music-Ltd.)

Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, an early home to the likes of King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Jethro Tull, Free, Traffic and many more, will publish 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 got a job managing jukeboxes back in Jamaica, which brought him into contact with the country's music scene.

He founded Island records in his early 20s, with a $10,000 start-up provided by his parents and named after Alec Waugh's novel Island In The Sun. His early musical forays were all related to the local music scene, but in 1964 he produced Millie Small's over of My Boy Lollipop, which was a huge hit and helped establish Island Records.

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

The label never forgot its association with reggae and notably brought Bob Marley and a host of other artists to worldwide attention.

Blackwell sold his stake in Island in 1989, and the labels now sit under the Universal umbrella. More recently he's been involved in elite resort management. In 2009 Music Week named Blackwell the most influential figure in the last 50 years of the British music industry.

The release of The Islander coincides with Blackwell's 85th birthdays.

“It’s over sixty years since I started Island Records, says Blackwell. "It seems 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 trip."

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Chris Blackwell

(Image credit: Nine Eight Books)
Jerry Ewing
Jerry Ewing

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock, as well as sleevenotes for many major record labels. He lives in North London and happily indulges a passion for AC/DC, Chelsea Football Club and Sydney Roosters.