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The Islander: My Life in Music and Beyond

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In the vein of Sound Man and The Soundtrack of My Life, a lyrical, warmhearted, and inspirational memoir from the founder of Island Records about his astonishing life and career helping to bring reggae music to the world stage and working with Bob Marley, U2, Grace Jones, Cat Stevens, and many other icons. Chris Blackwell, like the paradigm-shifting artists he came to supp In the vein of Sound Man and The Soundtrack of My Life, a lyrical, warmhearted, and inspirational memoir from the founder of Island Records about his astonishing life and career helping to bring reggae music to the world stage and working with Bob Marley, U2, Grace Jones, Cat Stevens, and many other icons. Chris Blackwell, like the paradigm-shifting artists he came to support over his sixty-plus years in the music business, never took the conventional route. He grew up between Jamaica and London, crossing paths with Ian Fleming, Noel Coward, and Errol Flynn. After being expelled from an elite British school for rebellious behavior in 1954 at age seventeen, he moved back to Jamaica, and within five years, founded Island Records—the company that would make an indelible mark on music, shifting with the times, but always keeping its core identity intact. The Islander is the story of Blackwell and his cohorts at Island Records, who time and again, identified, nurtured, and broke out musicians who had been overlooked by bigger record labels, including Steve Winwood, Nick Drake, John Martyn, and Cat Stevens. After an impromptu meeting with Bob Marley and his bandmates in 1972, Blackwell decided to fund and produce their groundbreaking album Catch a Fire. He’d go on to work with Marley over the rest of his career, remain his close friend, and continually champion Jamaican culture and reggae music. In the ensuing years, Blackwell worked with U2, Grace Jones, the B-52s, Tom Waits, Robert Palmer, Tom Tom Club, and many other groundbreaking artists. 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. Blackwell is a legendary as well as deeply humble raconteur, and reading The Islander is like spending a day with the most interesting man in the world.


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In the vein of Sound Man and The Soundtrack of My Life, a lyrical, warmhearted, and inspirational memoir from the founder of Island Records about his astonishing life and career helping to bring reggae music to the world stage and working with Bob Marley, U2, Grace Jones, Cat Stevens, and many other icons. Chris Blackwell, like the paradigm-shifting artists he came to supp In the vein of Sound Man and The Soundtrack of My Life, a lyrical, warmhearted, and inspirational memoir from the founder of Island Records about his astonishing life and career helping to bring reggae music to the world stage and working with Bob Marley, U2, Grace Jones, Cat Stevens, and many other icons. Chris Blackwell, like the paradigm-shifting artists he came to support over his sixty-plus years in the music business, never took the conventional route. He grew up between Jamaica and London, crossing paths with Ian Fleming, Noel Coward, and Errol Flynn. After being expelled from an elite British school for rebellious behavior in 1954 at age seventeen, he moved back to Jamaica, and within five years, founded Island Records—the company that would make an indelible mark on music, shifting with the times, but always keeping its core identity intact. The Islander is the story of Blackwell and his cohorts at Island Records, who time and again, identified, nurtured, and broke out musicians who had been overlooked by bigger record labels, including Steve Winwood, Nick Drake, John Martyn, and Cat Stevens. After an impromptu meeting with Bob Marley and his bandmates in 1972, Blackwell decided to fund and produce their groundbreaking album Catch a Fire. He’d go on to work with Marley over the rest of his career, remain his close friend, and continually champion Jamaican culture and reggae music. In the ensuing years, Blackwell worked with U2, Grace Jones, the B-52s, Tom Waits, Robert Palmer, Tom Tom Club, and many other groundbreaking artists. 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. Blackwell is a legendary as well as deeply humble raconteur, and reading The Islander is like spending a day with the most interesting man in the world.

30 review for The Islander: My Life in Music and Beyond

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tosh

    For me, Island Records during the 1960s/1970s couldn't go wrong. You had everything from Traffic to Sparks to Roxy Music, and then to Eno albums, as well as Grace Jones and forward. A lively memoir that only focuses on his work, with side attraction to the world of OO7 and Noel Coward/Errol Flynn. Chris Blackwell is the ultimate privileged insider and a remarkable record and label owner. Paul Morley did a great job in making this into a very readable book. For me, Island Records during the 1960s/1970s couldn't go wrong. You had everything from Traffic to Sparks to Roxy Music, and then to Eno albums, as well as Grace Jones and forward. A lively memoir that only focuses on his work, with side attraction to the world of OO7 and Noel Coward/Errol Flynn. Chris Blackwell is the ultimate privileged insider and a remarkable record and label owner. Paul Morley did a great job in making this into a very readable book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    John

    I was looking forward to reading this biography. He tells fascinating stories from his life that spans from the 1950's to now. Chris is the person behind so many bands\artist of renown, from wikipedia... "After discovering The Spencer Davis Group, featuring Steve Winwood, Blackwell focused on the rock acts that Island had signed. Island became one of the most successful independent labels of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s with an eclectic range of artists, including Traffic, King Crimson, Emerson, L I was looking forward to reading this biography. He tells fascinating stories from his life that spans from the 1950's to now. Chris is the person behind so many bands\artist of renown, from wikipedia... "After discovering The Spencer Davis Group, featuring Steve Winwood, Blackwell focused on the rock acts that Island had signed. Island became one of the most successful independent labels of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s with an eclectic range of artists, including Traffic, King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Jethro Tull, Cat Stevens, John Cale, Free, Fairport Convention, Nico, Heads, Hands and Feet, John Martyn, Sparks, Spooky Tooth, Nick Drake, Roxy Music, Grace Jones, Ultravox, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Robert Palmer, Marianne Faithfull, The Buggles, Etta James, Melissa Etheridge, Julian Cope, The Cranberries, Womack and Womack, U2, and others." At the heart of the book is the mystic faraway beating drum emanating from the mountain jungles of Jamaica of the indigenous inhabitants. These people saved his life and he was forever indebted.

  3. 4 out of 5

    E

    A mostly enjoyable look at the career of Chris Blackwell, founder and longtime president of Island Records (he finally sold out in the late 80s; Island is now part of Universal Music Group, one of the Big Three). The story of Blackwell's rise from a runner delivering records to jukeboxes all over southeast Jamaica to eventually heading one of the most successful independent record companies in the business is nothing short of captivating. He did everything he could to stay true to his Jamaican r A mostly enjoyable look at the career of Chris Blackwell, founder and longtime president of Island Records (he finally sold out in the late 80s; Island is now part of Universal Music Group, one of the Big Three). The story of Blackwell's rise from a runner delivering records to jukeboxes all over southeast Jamaica to eventually heading one of the most successful independent record companies in the business is nothing short of captivating. He did everything he could to stay true to his Jamaican roots while not being afraid to branch into all sorts of weird stuff. And then he signed U2. I said it was "mostly enjoyable." At times it devolves into "Then this producer made this record, then that singer recorded that album, then this person left that label to go this label, and then . . ." It is easy for the eyes to glaze over at some of these points. I recommend resorting to YouTube to hear some of the obscure acts he's writing about. Also, I could have used a lot more than only one chapter on Bob Marley and the Wailers! That was probably the biggest shock of the book. The highlight of Blackwell's career (and a highlight of music, period) deserved more. This is a book about the business. Blackwell almost never talks about his wives, his homes, or other elements of his personal life. But that's okay.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ray

    One of the best music business related biographies that I've read. I was especially impressed by his first hand account of the development of Jamaican music and his involvement from the 50-70's. This led to his signing of Bob Marley & The Wailers. There's great anecdotes about his family /business associations with Ian Fleming, Sean Connery and Errol Flynn, key Island artists- John Martyn, Cat Stevens, Free,Grace Jones, Tom Tom Club et al He is one of the rare label heads to acknowledge the infl One of the best music business related biographies that I've read. I was especially impressed by his first hand account of the development of Jamaican music and his involvement from the 50-70's. This led to his signing of Bob Marley & The Wailers. There's great anecdotes about his family /business associations with Ian Fleming, Sean Connery and Errol Flynn, key Island artists- John Martyn, Cat Stevens, Free,Grace Jones, Tom Tom Club et al He is one of the rare label heads to acknowledge the influence of non commercial music leading to production and cultural changes.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rob Sevier

    Aloof and delusional rich guy delivers a cliff notes version of his successes

  6. 5 out of 5

    Phil

    If you like books about the business side of the music industry and happen also to love performers like U2, Bob Marley, Steve Winwood, Spooky Tooth, Cranberries, Robert Palmer, and many more on the Island Records label founded by the author, then you’ll likely love this memoir. I did!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tom Meek

    Until I received a copy of this book who Chris Blackwell was. After I started reading it became apparent he was the mastermind behind the music acts, Bob Marley, U2, Cat Stevens, Grace Jones, Steve Win wood and many others, all groups I grew up listening to. Enjoyed learning who he was and learning of the many other fields he was involved in (rum, hotels and film).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rayne Jackson

    Loved this book

  9. 4 out of 5

    Aydee

    Overall enjoyed reading this. The book includes a few chapters on working with specific artists (Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, Grace Jones, U2 amongst a few others) which was interesting to read how Chris began to work with them and their styles when creating albums. There are some chapters at the beginning discussing the start of Island Records that were mainly paragraphs of many names only mentioned a couple times that was a little disorienting for me but other than that, I enjoyed this. Review base Overall enjoyed reading this. The book includes a few chapters on working with specific artists (Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, Grace Jones, U2 amongst a few others) which was interesting to read how Chris began to work with them and their styles when creating albums. There are some chapters at the beginning discussing the start of Island Records that were mainly paragraphs of many names only mentioned a couple times that was a little disorienting for me but other than that, I enjoyed this. Review based on an ARC received in a Goodreads giveaway.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eric Sutton

    I read the review of this book on The Guardian's website and immediately ordered it through Audible, not so much because the review is standout but because I love so many artists Blackwell signed and worked with: Bob Marley, Nick Drake, Cat Stevens, Traffic, Tom Waits. The Guardian critiqued Blackwell's lack of writing his personal life, sticking strictly to the music business (I guess the "and Beyond" in the title refers to his ventures into film and real estate?); still, it was a really enjoya I read the review of this book on The Guardian's website and immediately ordered it through Audible, not so much because the review is standout but because I love so many artists Blackwell signed and worked with: Bob Marley, Nick Drake, Cat Stevens, Traffic, Tom Waits. The Guardian critiqued Blackwell's lack of writing his personal life, sticking strictly to the music business (I guess the "and Beyond" in the title refers to his ventures into film and real estate?); still, it was a really enjoyable listen, full of entertaining anecdotes, chance encounters, and insanely-cool experiences with some of the twentieth-century's greatest artists, many of whom he took a mere chance on signing. Blackwell seems like a relatively humble person - he speaks openly of his privilege but also of his efforts to promote Jamaican music and do his best to give back to the country of his birth. He also isn't afraid to admit when he makes a mistake, upsets an artist or agent or takes a gamble that doesn't pay off. The book runs chronologically but he often moves back in time to contextualize first meeting or hearing of an artist or to fill in the necessary gaps detailing place and circumstance, thus the book reads fairly smoothly and is easy to follow. On the surface it seems like Island Records is (was - Blackwell sold the company in the late '80s or early '90s, though they still carry some great artists) a pretty amazing company, in that Blackwell, even when he signed more high-profile acts, stuck with them through thick and thin and seemed to really promote the idea of creating albums, not hit singles. The best part of the book, however, is the stories. Blackwell's refusal to drop Nick Drake from Island's catalogue because he so believed that one day Drake would be discovered, only for Volkswagen to feature "Pink Moon" in a late-90's commercial, which catapulted the gentle singer to posthumous fame, is my personal favorite. I love reading postcolonial fiction, and Blackwell as postcolonial musical troubadour spreading Jamaica's reggae to the masses - conflicted over compromising Marley's spiritual/rebellious nature in the face of commercial pressure for his more peaceful songs - made for rich storytelling. For fans of behind-the-scenes takes on musical giants as well as for audiophiles, as there is so much about studio work and production also.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Glen Helfand

    Island Records mogul Chris Blackwell's music industry memoir has one of the worst opening lines ever: "I am a member of the lucky sperm club." Ooph! He means to come out and say up front that he's a man of privilege, a white Brit who grew up in colonized Jamaica. It is an important admission, one he makes just once more in this book, which thankfully doesn't discuss sperm again (it is ironic because his mother is referenced more than his father-- who divorced). This is a book about the music bus Island Records mogul Chris Blackwell's music industry memoir has one of the worst opening lines ever: "I am a member of the lucky sperm club." Ooph! He means to come out and say up front that he's a man of privilege, a white Brit who grew up in colonized Jamaica. It is an important admission, one he makes just once more in this book, which thankfully doesn't discuss sperm again (it is ironic because his mother is referenced more than his father-- who divorced). This is a book about the music business, and as such, Blackwell has great stories to tell about his rise into the business--so much of it tied to his youth in Jamaica where he met Ian Fleming, Tyrone Power, and Noel Coward- all friends of mom--and the illustrious artists he worked with at Island Records. He found himself a niche as a big indie, a label for misfits, if you could call the label that supported Stevie Winwood, B-52s, Grace Jones, Roxy Music, U2, and most importantly, Bob Marley little. He describes his passion and instincts for various musicians he supported, some more known than others. (As a Roxy Music fan, I was disappointed they rated just a page, but they just weren't a band that he was so engaged with-- someone else must have signed them, there's not the backstory of Marley or Cat Stevens who get their own chapters.) It's an engaging read, al that music lore of the era before streaming (he goes back to his start in the jukebox trade). Blackwell does come across as a nice guy, but he doesn't really talk much about intimate relationships. Wives and girlfriends are mentioned only in passing, his kids are termed "the livestock" in a very brief mention. But he's also known for his privacy. He's a businessman, first and foremost, and one with some degree of integrity-- and glamor. A perfect beach read, preferably on an island.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jem Aswad

    Rock-porn of the highest order - take it from someone who's read way too many music biographies. What makes this one different is the fact that unlike contemporaries like Ahmet Ertegun and Clive Davis, Blackwell stayed out of the spotlight, which may have been less due to British modesty than an astute business move for a white man who made his fortune on Black music. While there's definitely some curious exclusions and presumably more than a little revisionist history, it's absolutely brilliant Rock-porn of the highest order - take it from someone who's read way too many music biographies. What makes this one different is the fact that unlike contemporaries like Ahmet Ertegun and Clive Davis, Blackwell stayed out of the spotlight, which may have been less due to British modesty than an astute business move for a white man who made his fortune on Black music. While there's definitely some curious exclusions and presumably more than a little revisionist history, it's absolutely brilliantly written — that's entirely down to co-writer Paul Morley; Blackwell has said he didn't write a single paragraph — and includes a jaw-dropping number of not just anecdotes but musical insights as well, which range from how the swinging drums are the magic ingredient of "Whiter Shade of Pale" (a hit Blackwell decided not to sign and release because he wanted to focus on Traffic) to how the B-52s — who Blackwell DID sign — "had enough ideas to build their own reality, which they then inhabit.” Of course, there are many scenes from Swinging London, anecdotes about Bob Marley and U2, an so much more. It's up there with Patti Smith's "Just Kids" and Elton John's "Me" among the all-time greatest music memoirs.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ginni

    Predictably, given my age and musical tastes, this was a great read. I particularly enjoyed the first part, as it related the early years of Island Records, the time when I was most switched on to popular music. I can remember singing along to ‘My Boy Lollipop’ in an Irish cinema - probably one of the last to put the lyrics up on a screen and encourage the audience to join in. I can remember dancing madly to Free’s ‘All Right Now’ in 1970. Traffic, Stevie Winwood, Procul Harum, the Spencer Davis Predictably, given my age and musical tastes, this was a great read. I particularly enjoyed the first part, as it related the early years of Island Records, the time when I was most switched on to popular music. I can remember singing along to ‘My Boy Lollipop’ in an Irish cinema - probably one of the last to put the lyrics up on a screen and encourage the audience to join in. I can remember dancing madly to Free’s ‘All Right Now’ in 1970. Traffic, Stevie Winwood, Procul Harum, the Spencer Davis Group....the list goes on. And then Bob Marley and the Wailers.... There is not much about Chris Blackwell’s personal life - probably wise, as the throwaway remarks tend to be ‘Xxx - my wife at that time....’ I rather lost count of the number of wives and girlfriends - but hey, he was a good looking guy, with charisma, money and a glamorous lifestyle - the rock and roll lifestyle - the amazing properties in Jamaica....and he does appear to have stabilised as he grows older; he is now 84.... It becomes apparent that the great sadness in his life was the premature death of Bob Marley, the person who he felt closest to in so many ways. Worth a read if you can remember the Sixties and Seventies musical scene.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Luis Cuesta

    I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. "The Islander" is compelling autobiography built around the rise of the Island Records founder who became as much of a legend as the music acts he championed. Chris Blackwell starts his memoir writing how it felt to be born into white Jamaican aristocracy in the 1930's and attending Harrow, one of the finest boarding schools in class-conscious Britain. When he launched Island Records in 1958 it was with seed money from his parents and it took some ti I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. "The Islander" is compelling autobiography built around the rise of the Island Records founder who became as much of a legend as the music acts he championed. Chris Blackwell starts his memoir writing how it felt to be born into white Jamaican aristocracy in the 1930's and attending Harrow, one of the finest boarding schools in class-conscious Britain. When he launched Island Records in 1958 it was with seed money from his parents and it took some time to make it a successful business. After that Blackwell devotes long, fascinating chapters to different stars including Cat Stevens, Bob Marley or U2, but also many other iconoclastic artists and bands that over the years somehow belonged at Blackwell’s label and nowhere else, including glam-prog legends Roxy Music and Brian Eno, Robert Fripp’s King Crimson, Grace Jones, and the B-52s. My favorite chapters are the one about his first great discovery, white English musician Steve Winwood, and the one about the Wailers where his passion for the Black music of Jamaica makes him stand out. After signing Bob Marley, Blackwell's main legacy will be putting reggae music in the same league as the best rock acts of the 1970's and the 1980's.

  15. 5 out of 5

    John Watts

    Ummm....ultimately disappointing. As the book progressed I found myself beginning to like Mr Blackwell less and less. An interesting tale about how a privileged white youth grew up in Jamaica before being packed off to Harrow for a public school education. Well-connected, and handily his parents funded him with $10,000 to set up his record label. He seems to have been blessed with being in the right place at the right time and the Golden era of the Island Record label saw the business grow and g Ummm....ultimately disappointing. As the book progressed I found myself beginning to like Mr Blackwell less and less. An interesting tale about how a privileged white youth grew up in Jamaica before being packed off to Harrow for a public school education. Well-connected, and handily his parents funded him with $10,000 to set up his record label. He seems to have been blessed with being in the right place at the right time and the Golden era of the Island Record label saw the business grow and grow whilst retaining the cachet of being the hip company to sign for. An astonishing range of talent signed for Island between 1965 and the late 70s....some get a mention in the book, some are curiously omitted (eg Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer), and some get way too much coverage (Grace Jones). With hindsight the moment when things changed was the death of Bob Marley just when it seemed that Reggae was to dominate matters in the music world. Suddenly Punk arrived, and Chris Blackwell for once failed to see that things were about to change dramatically. He moved away towards other things : film production, hotels and resorts. So a successful businessman (with his own label rum!) but I was left feeling that this was not a person I could warm to.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Lumsden

    A disappointing hagiography. Bumped into Blackwell once at one of those uptown backgammon bar evenings , I truly wanted to like or learn something form this. Living in Jamaica for more than a decade and drinking in an eclectic range of bars and having visited all his local Island Outposts , you hear stories. I am very much of the category that Chris is a net positive for Jamaica . When this was suggested with Bill Nighy reading it was a no brainer, yet he was languid leaning to bored and his pronu A disappointing hagiography. Bumped into Blackwell once at one of those uptown backgammon bar evenings , I truly wanted to like or learn something form this. Living in Jamaica for more than a decade and drinking in an eclectic range of bars and having visited all his local Island Outposts , you hear stories. I am very much of the category that Chris is a net positive for Jamaica . When this was suggested with Bill Nighy reading it was a no brainer, yet he was languid leaning to bored and his pronunciation made me think he had never been to Scotland far less Jamaica. Morley's fingerprints are all over this, he must have listened to hours of PG13 anecdotes, or perhaps the real stories and edited out the essence. That is not to say there is no merit, listen at least 1.5speed. This is after all the soundtrack of our lives. As Salman Rushdie said on his blurb. Grace Jones says Chris is a "Mover, Shaker & Mischief Maker" if only we got to see that. This is basically an old man in lockdown reading through his diaries and fleshing out some detail. If you want to know about Bob there are many better tomes, not least Marlon James' History of Seven Killings . Still thank you lucky sperm for your wonderful life and contribution to the catalogue and indeed the Rock

  17. 5 out of 5

    Janet Graham

    Non-Stop Living! This is the autobiography of the man who founded Island records. That does not nearly describe him, it just gives us a place to tether him. This guy seems to have endless energy and no qualms about following endless dreams. In his very successful music career, he found talented musicians and gave them the backing to develop themselves into unbelievable musicians. The list of acts he helped goes from the doo-wop era into rap. The story of how he meets and develops acts is as amazi Non-Stop Living! This is the autobiography of the man who founded Island records. That does not nearly describe him, it just gives us a place to tether him. This guy seems to have endless energy and no qualms about following endless dreams. In his very successful music career, he found talented musicians and gave them the backing to develop themselves into unbelievable musicians. The list of acts he helped goes from the doo-wop era into rap. The story of how he meets and develops acts is as amazing as the success he had in doing it. And while part of him was doing that, another part was making independent movies and yet another part was building boutique hotels and renovating the crime-riddled South Beach, Florida into the fantastic place it is today. The book is filled with names you know as well as a few you will want to check out. There was one part that I found to be a bit slow, but it was necessary for the following parts. This guy had had an unbelievable life and he is not done yet!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Don Gorman

    (2 1/2). I was certainly familiar with Chris Blackwell prior to this, and I read some pretty good reviews on this book. Unfortunately, the good stories and insight to his relationships with many famous musicians and groups (Bob Marley, Cat Stevens U2 and more) and his interesting philosophies about how he ran his business are overshadowed by the endless lists that seem to be part and parcel in these memoirs. His childhood was interesting and the little bit of his other personal insights in the v (2 1/2). I was certainly familiar with Chris Blackwell prior to this, and I read some pretty good reviews on this book. Unfortunately, the good stories and insight to his relationships with many famous musicians and groups (Bob Marley, Cat Stevens U2 and more) and his interesting philosophies about how he ran his business are overshadowed by the endless lists that seem to be part and parcel in these memoirs. His childhood was interesting and the little bit of his other personal insights in the very last chapter resonate as well, this is good research for all of us geriatric music nuts. Reasonable stuff.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Roger Silverberg

    Blackwell's autobiography was a fairly easy read, in part because he was, for the most part, well-edited. Wealth has its perks and Blackwell surely was the beneficiary. However, I cannot pass Chris off as another dilettante. He followed his passion throughout his career. And he doesn't hold back. I would rate this book right up there with Keith Richards' book, Life, which I read right when that one came out. Insightful, and also dosed with sobering reality when the rest of the world catches on t Blackwell's autobiography was a fairly easy read, in part because he was, for the most part, well-edited. Wealth has its perks and Blackwell surely was the beneficiary. However, I cannot pass Chris off as another dilettante. He followed his passion throughout his career. And he doesn't hold back. I would rate this book right up there with Keith Richards' book, Life, which I read right when that one came out. Insightful, and also dosed with sobering reality when the rest of the world catches on to what you've labored to bring to the table

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hailey Staheli

    3.5 stars overall If I’m being honest, I was here for Bob Marley. Color me surprised when I found the book to be fairly entertaining. It gives off a very privileged vibe, which did put me off to be truthful. Blackwell does however, point out many different times in the book that he knows he has/had privilege. If you consider yourself a contemporary music nerd, I would recommend. An additional recommendation would be as you are reading about specific artists/songs to pull up the music and listen. 3.5 stars overall If I’m being honest, I was here for Bob Marley. Color me surprised when I found the book to be fairly entertaining. It gives off a very privileged vibe, which did put me off to be truthful. Blackwell does however, point out many different times in the book that he knows he has/had privilege. If you consider yourself a contemporary music nerd, I would recommend. An additional recommendation would be as you are reading about specific artists/songs to pull up the music and listen. It’s like an additional context that helped draw a closer connection to the text.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Greg Hernandez

    Come on this read is a must for all Ethnomusicologist enthusiast of Anthropology . The humble model for any record label company which acts as purveyor for artist development without diminishing artist integrity ,self vision , focus . Every page was cultural insight not only discovering artist but also the heavy weights of Cinema and authors which Chris was surrounded by growing up between Jamaica and London. Highly recommend this read if your a champion for the underdogs or simply the over look Come on this read is a must for all Ethnomusicologist enthusiast of Anthropology . The humble model for any record label company which acts as purveyor for artist development without diminishing artist integrity ,self vision , focus . Every page was cultural insight not only discovering artist but also the heavy weights of Cinema and authors which Chris was surrounded by growing up between Jamaica and London. Highly recommend this read if your a champion for the underdogs or simply the over looked. Discover yourself such as Chris Blackwell did for over 60 year's.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Chris Blackwell has lived a "Forest Gump" styled life. Growing up in Jamaica, his mother was good friends with author of the James Bond novels, Ian Flemming, he was on set during the filming of "Dr. No" and became friends with Sean Connery. His record label 'Island Records' introduced/produced music acts, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Cat Stevens, Grace Jones, U2, and many others. His business ventures also include films, hotels and his own Rum. The writing style is mostly bland and dry for a memo Chris Blackwell has lived a "Forest Gump" styled life. Growing up in Jamaica, his mother was good friends with author of the James Bond novels, Ian Flemming, he was on set during the filming of "Dr. No" and became friends with Sean Connery. His record label 'Island Records' introduced/produced music acts, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Cat Stevens, Grace Jones, U2, and many others. His business ventures also include films, hotels and his own Rum. The writing style is mostly bland and dry for a memoir of an otherwise adventurous and interesting life.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael Heneghan

    One of Beth's books. This book occupies a weird space for me: I kept wanting to pick it up, but I fully believe it was just an average book. The author reveals very little about himself or the impressive array of music stars he helped discover and record at Island records, the company he founded. We learn very little about Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, or the members of U2. That said, Chris Blackwell led a charmed, privileged life (which he admits) and it was interesting to see the genesis of so many One of Beth's books. This book occupies a weird space for me: I kept wanting to pick it up, but I fully believe it was just an average book. The author reveals very little about himself or the impressive array of music stars he helped discover and record at Island records, the company he founded. We learn very little about Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, or the members of U2. That said, Chris Blackwell led a charmed, privileged life (which he admits) and it was interesting to see the genesis of so many great musical careers.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ramzi

    Chris Blackwell has led an interesting life. In it, he’s crossed paths with Errol Flynn, Ian Fleming and countless musical acts, a number of which he was able to bring to an international audience with his independent record company, Island Records. If you’re a fan of classic rock or reggae, this should be a fun read for you. Some of the bands Chris reflects on: Marley U2 Grace Jones Traffic/Steve Winwood Robert Palmer Scratch Perry Chris Martyn Cat Stevens

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alex Simons

    This brought back many memories I’ve been a big fan of Island since the 60’s. John Martyn, Cat Stevens, Steve Winwood, Marianne Faithfull, Bob Marley, U2, etc. As I was reading this book, I kept going back to my music app and playing many songs. Thanks to Chris Blackwell for this lovely book, the focus of which is letting creativity flow. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves music and how it’s made.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ellie O'Day

    Chris Blackwell shares the history of Island Records and other enterprises. Growing up in "white" Jamaica, his mother was a party girl and the family friends were Ian Fleming, Errol Flynn and Noel Coward. Many artists, producers, and engineers passed through his life. He takes more time on his relationship to Bob Marley, U2 and Grace Jones. He also lived in London, UK in the years before the Beatles hit, and what that music scene was like. He also lived in New York, Miami and the Bahamas. Chris Blackwell shares the history of Island Records and other enterprises. Growing up in "white" Jamaica, his mother was a party girl and the family friends were Ian Fleming, Errol Flynn and Noel Coward. Many artists, producers, and engineers passed through his life. He takes more time on his relationship to Bob Marley, U2 and Grace Jones. He also lived in London, UK in the years before the Beatles hit, and what that music scene was like. He also lived in New York, Miami and the Bahamas.

  27. 4 out of 5

    David Steck

    Enjoyed learning Balckwells life story and his journey as a pioneer in the music world ( especially resonant with me as a diehard U2 fan). Dare I say I found the material a bit boring (?) at times , especially discussions around (now) obscure musicians / music industry veterans who most readers would likely not know.

  28. 4 out of 5

    John Lyman

    Lots of cool stories about lots of cool artists, many of whom rank among my favorites. Personal stories are at a minimum, focus is on artists, labels, discovering talent. Glad to have read it, CB was intimately instrumental in the production of a ton of music I love. I guess I should go back to Jamaica if I want to show further support.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Val

    I very much enjoyed this fascinating memoir of Chris Blackwell's. Most of the book focuses on the founding and building of Islander Records. There is lots of neat insight and stories of the music industry and the people involved. I very much enjoyed this fascinating memoir of Chris Blackwell's. Most of the book focuses on the founding and building of Islander Records. There is lots of neat insight and stories of the music industry and the people involved.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda

    Enjoyable but wordy at times. Interesting and leaves you jealous of the wonderful meetings, friendships and travels that blessed his life. If you enjoy seeing how people came into the life they lead this is definitely a must read. Happy page turning.

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