I didn’t expect to hear abou Island Records during presentation about rum destileries but hey, there we go …
Blackwell revisited his family’s legacy in Jamaica’s banana, coconut, and rum export industries in 2009, when, at the age of 72 years, he introduced his own brand of rum, “Blackwell Black Gold“, onto the alcohol market. The beverage is made from Jamaican sugar cane, water, and yeast, and aged in American oak barrels.
Christopher Percy Gordon Blackwell born in London.
Is expelled from elite public-school Harrow in northeast London and moves back to Jamaica.
Nearly dies of exhaustion after a boating incident. Saved by Rastafarians.
Starts up Island Records in Jamaica, the first LP getting catalogue number CB22 from his initials and age.
Gets a job as production assistant for the first James Bond film Dr. No, filmed in Jamaica. Forced to choose between the film or music industry. A soothsayer guides him to the latter.
After moving back to London two years earlier to risk everything on music, he gets an international hit with the 16 year young Millie Smalls’ My Boy Lollipop.
Island Records part-finances the first international Jamaican film The Harder They Come. The soundtrack, performed by lead-actor Jimmy Cliff, creates a buzz around reggae in the US.
Bob Marley and The Wailers’ Catch a Firecomes out. It sells a bare 14,000 copies in the first year.
Releases Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Exodus. The record goes into the Billboard Top 20 and makes Bob Marley a superstar.
Builds Compass Point studio near the Bahamas’ capital Nassau. Soon Island artists like Grace Jones and Robert Palmer as well as international stars like AC/DC, the Rolling Stones, and David Bowie travel here to record with head producer Alex Sadkin.
Signs Irish rock group U2, who don’t make much of a splash at first.
Bob Marley dies and Cat Stevens announces that he won’t be recording music again. Chris tires of the industry.
U2’s fifth album, The Joshua Tree, becomes the UK’s fastest ever selling record and tops the Billboard chart for nine weeks in a row.
Chris sells Island Records to Polygram for 262 million dollars. He still remains until 1997 as A&R.
Buys land around Ian Fleming’s old villa Golden Eye and opens his first Jamaican luxury hotel of the same name.
Starts up independent film and music company Palm Pictures, which distributes semi-alternative films like Dig!, Sex & Lucia,and The Basketball Diaries.
Is inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Bono pays tribute.
Island Records celebrates 50 years with not only a BBC documentary but also a book, both titled Keep On Running.