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Island Records is a multinational
record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Brands are used in business, marketing, and ad ...
owned by
Universal Music Group Universal Music Group N.V. (often abbreviated as UMG and referred to as just Universal Music) is a Dutch–American multinational Music industry, music corporation. UMG's corporate headquarters are located in Hilversum, Netherlands and its op ...
. It was founded in 1959 by
Chris Blackwell Christopher Percy Gordon Blackwell (born 22 June 1937) is an English businessman and former record producer, and the founder of Island Records Island Records is a multinational record label owned by Universal Music Group Universal ...

Chris Blackwell
,
Graeme Goodall Graeme Goodall Vanderbilt (1932 – 3 December 2014) was an Australian recording engineer An audio engineer (also known as a sound engineer or recording engineer) helps to produce a sound recording, recording or a live performance, balancing ...
, and
Leslie Kong Leslie Kong (20 December 1933 – 9 August 1971) was an influential Chinese-Jamaican reggae producer. Career Leslie and his two older brothers Cecil and Lloyd ran a restaurant, ice cream parlour and record shop called Beverley's in Orange Stre ...
in
Jamaica Jamaica (; ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, residence or ...

Jamaica
, and was eventually sold to
PolyGram PolyGram N.V. was an entertainment company and major music record label formerly based in the Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = ...
in 1989. Island and
A&M Records A&M Records was an American record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Bra ...
, another label recently acquired by PolyGram, were both at the time the largest
independent record label An independent record label (or indie label) is a record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from tho ...
s in history, with Island having exerted a major influence on the progressive music scene in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s. Island Records operates four international divisions: Island US, Island UK, Island Australia, and Island France (known as Vertigo France until 2014). Current key people include Island US president
Darcus Beese Darcus Beese OBE The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry An order of chivalry, order of knighthood, chivalric order, or equestrian order is an order of knights typically founded during or inspired by t ...
,
OBE The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry An order of chivalry, order of knighthood, chivalric order, or equestrian order is an order of knights typically founded during or inspired by the original Catho ...
and MD Jon Turner. Partially due to its significant legacy, Island remains one of UMG's pre-eminent record labels. Artists who have signed to Island Records include
Brian Eno Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno (; born Brian Peter George Eno; 15 May 1948) is an English musician, record producer, visual artist, and theorist best known for his pioneering work in ambient music and contributions to ...
,
Demi Lovato Demetria Devonne Lovato ( ; born August 20, 1992) is an American singer, songwriter, and actor. After appearing on the children's television series ''Barney & Friends'' (2002–2004), Lovato rose to prominence for playing Mitchie Torres in the ...

Demi Lovato
,
Ariana Grande Ariana Grande-Butera () (born June 26, 1993) is an American singer and actress. Born in Boca Raton, Florida, Grande began her career at age 15 in the 2008 Broadway theatre, Broadway musical ''13 (musical), 13''. She rose to fame for her role ...

Ariana Grande
,
Sabrina Carpenter Sabrina Annlynn Carpenter (born May 11, 1999) is an American singer and actress. Carpenter made her acting debut with an appearance in the crime series '' Law & Order: Special Victims Unit'' and first received recognition for her recurring rol ...

Sabrina Carpenter
,
Avicii Tim Bergling (; 8 September 1989 – 20 April 2018), known by his stage name A stage name is a pseudonym A pseudonym () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) or alias () is a fictitious name that a person or group assumes for a pa ...

Avicii
,
Justin Bieber Justin Drew Bieber (; born March 1, 1994) is a Canadian singer. He was discovered by American record executive Scooter Braun Scott Samuel "Scooter" Braun (born June 18, 1981) is an American media proprietor, media entrepreneur, record ex ...

Justin Bieber
,
Bob Marley Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley, (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer, songwriter, and musician. Considered one of the pioneers of reggae Reggae () is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category tha ...
,
Nick Drake Nicholas Rodney Drake (19 June 1948 – 25 November 1974) was an English singer-songwriter known for his acoustic guitar-based songs. He did not find a wide audience during his lifetime, but his work gradually achieved wider notice and rec ...
,
Queen Queen may refer to: Monarchy * Queen regnant, a female monarch of a Kingdom ** List of queens regnant * Queen consort, the wife of a reigning king * Queen dowager, the widow of a king * Queen mother, a queen dowager who is the mother of a reigni ...
,
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,
Cat Stevens Yusuf Islam (born Steven Demetre Georgiou; ), commonly known by his stage names Cat Stevens, Yusuf, and Yusuf / Cat Stevens, is a British singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. His musical style consists of folk music, folk, pop, rock, a ...
, Jethro Tull,
Grace Jones Grace Beverly Jones (born 19 May 1948) is a Jamaican-American model, singer, songwriter, and actress. In 1999, Jones ranked 82nd on VH1 VH1 (originally an initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken languag ...

Grace Jones
,
King Crimson King Crimson are a progressive rock Progressive rock (shortened as prog; also known as classical rock or symphonic rock; sometimes conflated with art rock) is a broad genre of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom and United St ...
,
Emerson, Lake & Palmer Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP) were an English progressive rock Progressive rock (shortened as prog; also known as classical rock or symphonic rock; sometimes conflated with art rock) is a broad genre of rock music that developed in the Uni ...
,
Kevin McDermott Orchestra Kevin () is the anglicized form of the Irish masculine given name (; mga, Caoimhghín ; sga, Cóemgein ; Latinized as ). It is composed of "dear; noble"; Old Irish and ("birth"; Old Irish ). The variant ''Kevan As a given name, Kevan is a ...
,
Tove Lo Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson (born 29 October 1987), known professionally as Tove Lo (), is a Swedish singer and songwriter, who has been called "Sweden's darkest pop export" by ''Rolling Stone.'' She is known for her raw, grunge music, grunge-influ ...
, Sparks,
the Cranberries The Cranberries were an Irish rock band formed in Limerick Limerick ( ; ga, Luimneach ) is a city in County Limerick County Limerick ( ga, Contae Luimnigh) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for admi ...
,
Tracy Bonham Tracy Bonham (born March 16, 1967) is an American alternative rock musician, best known for her 1996 single "Mother Mother (song), Mother Mother". Raised in Eugene, Oregon, Bonham is a classically trained violinist and pianist, and is also a sel ...

Tracy Bonham
,
Roxy Music Roxy Music were an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compoun ...

Roxy Music
,
Bishop Briggs Sarah Grace McLaughlin (born 18 July 1992), known professionally as Bishop Briggs, is a British-American singer and songwriter. Her single "River (Bishop Briggs song), River" peaked at number three on the US Alternative Chart. It was included ...
, Hozier, Blackbear, Pulp,
Fall Out Boy Fall Out Boy is an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compoun ...
,
the Killers The Killers are an American Rock music, rock band formed in Las Vegas in 2001 by Brandon Flowers (lead vocals, keyboards, bass) and Dave Keuning (lead guitar, backing vocals). The band went through a number of early lineup changes, but by 200 ...

the Killers
,
Loser Loser or Losers may refer to: Film and television * ''Loser'', a 1996 film directed by Kirk Harris * Loser (film), ''Loser'' (film), a 2000 movie starring Jason Biggs and Mena Suvari * The Losers (film), ''The Losers'' (film), the 2010 film ad ...
,
Leona Lewis Leona Louise Lewis (born 3 April 1985) is a British singer, songwriter, actress, model and activist. She was born and raised in the Islington, London Borough of Islington, and she attended the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in C ...

Leona Lewis
,
U2
U2
,
Mumford & Sons Mumford & Sons are a British folk rock band formed in London in 2007. The band consists of Marcus Mumford (lead vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, drums), Ben Lovett (British musician), Ben Lovett (vocals, keyboards, piano), and Ted Dwan ...

Mumford & Sons
,
Iggy Azalea Amethyst Amelia Kelly (born 7 June 1990), known professionally as Iggy Azalea (), is an Australian rapper. At the age of 16, Azalea moved from Australia to the United States in order to pursue a career in music. Azalea earned public recognition ...

Iggy Azalea
,
Amy Winehouse Amy Jade Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011) was an English singer and songwriter. She was known for her deep, expressive contralto A contralto () is a type of classical Classical may refer to: European antiquity *Classical an ...

Amy Winehouse
,
Tom Waits #REDIRECT Tom Waits #REDIRECT Tom Waits Thomas Alan Waits (born December 7, 1949) is an American singer, songwriter, musician, composer, and actor. His lyrics often focus on the underbelly of society and are delivered in his trademark deep, grave ...
,
Ben Howard Benjamin John Howard (born 24 April 1987) is an English singer-songwriter, musician and composer. His self-released debut EP ''Games in the Dark'' (2008) was followed by two more EPs, ''These Waters EP, These Waters'' (2009) and ''Old Pine (EP ...

Ben Howard
,
James TW James Taylor-Watts (born 27 October 1997), better known as James TW, is an English singer-songwriter. His single "When You Love Someone (James TW song), When You Love Someone" peaked at number 28 on the ''Billboard'' Adult Pop Songs chart. Early ...
,
Florence and the Machine Florence and the Machine (stylised as Florence + the Machine) are an English indie rock band that formed in London in 2007, consisting of vocalist Florence Welch, keyboardist Isabella Summers, guitarist Rob Ackroyd, harpist Tom Monger, and a co ...

Florence and the Machine
,
Sigrid Sigrid is a Scandinavian given name for women from Old Norse ''Sigríðr'', meaning "victory", "wisdom", and "beautiful". Sigrid = ''Sigr'' + ''fríðr'' ("victory" and "beautiful", respectively). Common nicknames include Siri (given name), Siri, ...
, John Newman,
Local H Local H is an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, chemica ...
,
Catfish and the Bottlemen Catfish and the Bottlemen are a Wales, Welsh indie rock band. Formed in 2007 in Llandudno, Wales, the band's debut album, ''The Balcony (album), The Balcony'', reached number 10 in the UK Albums Chart and achieved Platinum status on 30 December ...
,
Sandy Denny Alexandra Elene MacLean Denny (6 January 1947 – 21 April 1978) was an English singer-songwriter who was lead singer of the British folk rock band Fairport Convention. She has been described as "the pre-eminent British folk rock singer". Afte ...
, Disclosure,
Big Shaq Big or BIG may refer to: * Big, of great size or degree Film and television * Big (film), ''Big'' (film), a 1988 fantasy-comedy film starring Tom Hanks * ''Big!'', a Discovery Channel television show * ''Richard Hammond's Big'', a television show ...
,
the Weeknd Abel Makkonen Tesfaye (born February 16, 1990), known professionally as the Weeknd, is a Canadian singer-songwriter and record producer. His The Weeknd discography, discography has received widespread critical praise for its musical versatili ...
, Keane,
Annie Lennox Ann Lennox (born 25 December 1954) is a Scottish singer-songwriter, political activist and philanthropist. After achieving moderate success in the late 1970s as part of the new wave New Wave may refer to: Music * New wave music, a genre ...
,
JP Cooper John Paul Cooper (born 1 November 1983) is an English singer and songwriter. He is best known for featuring on the Jonas Blue single " Perfect Strangers". The song was certified platinum in the UK. His follow-up solo single was "September Song ...
,
PJ Harvey Polly Jean Harvey (born 9 October 1969) is an English singer, songwriter and musician. Primarily known as a vocalist and guitarist, she is also proficient with a wide range of instruments. Harvey began her career in 1988 when she joined local ...

PJ Harvey
,
Janet Jackson Janet Damita Jo Jackson (born May 16, 1966) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and dancer. She is noted for her innovative, socially conscious and sexually provocative records, as well as elaborate stage shows. Her sound and choreog ...

Janet Jackson
,
John Martyn Iain David McGeachy (11 September 1948 – 29 January 2009), known professionally as John Martyn, was a British singer-songwriter and guitarist. Over a 40-year career, he released 23 studio albums, and received frequent critical acclaim. ...
,
Nick Jonas Nicholas Jerry Jonas (born September 16, 1992) is an American singer, songwriter and actor. Jonas began acting in Broadway at the age of seven, and released his debut single in 2002 which caught the attention of Columbia Records Columbia ...

Nick Jonas
,
KSI Olajide Olayinka Williams "JJ" Olatunji (, ; born 19 June 1993), better known as KSI, is a British YouTuber A YouTuber is an individual who produces videos on the video sharing platform YouTube YouTube is an American online video sh ...

KSI
,
Robyn Robin Miriam Carlsson (born 12 June 1979), known as Robyn (), is a Swedish singer, songwriter, record producer and DJ. She arrived on the music scene with her 1995 debut album, ''Robyn Is Here ''Robyn Is Here'' is the debut studio album by Swed ...

Robyn
,
Shawn Mendes Shawn Peter Raul Mendes (; born August 8, 1998) is a Canadian singer and songwriter. He gained a following in 2013, posting song covers on the video-sharing application Vine (software), Vine. The following year, he caught the attention of art ...
,
Jessie J Jessica Ellen Cornish (born 27 March 1988), known professionally as Jessie J, is an English singer-songwriter. Born and raised in London, she began her career on stage, aged 11, with a role in the West End West End most commonly refers to: * ...

Jessie J
,
Scarlxrd
Scarlxrd
, Laleh, and
the Streets The Streets are an English rap music project led by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mike Skinner. The project has released five studio albums: ''Original Pirate Material ''Original Pirate Material'' is the debut studio album by Englis ...

the Streets
.


History


Rise of the brand

Island Records was founded in Jamaica on 4 July 1959 by
Chris Blackwell Christopher Percy Gordon Blackwell (born 22 June 1937) is an English businessman and former record producer, and the founder of Island Records Island Records is a multinational record label owned by Universal Music Group Universal ...

Chris Blackwell
,
Graeme Goodall Graeme Goodall Vanderbilt (1932 – 3 December 2014) was an Australian recording engineer An audio engineer (also known as a sound engineer or recording engineer) helps to produce a sound recording, recording or a live performance, balancing ...
and
Leslie Kong Leslie Kong (20 December 1933 – 9 August 1971) was an influential Chinese-Jamaican reggae producer. Career Leslie and his two older brothers Cecil and Lloyd ran a restaurant, ice cream parlour and record shop called Beverley's in Orange Stre ...
, and partially financed by Stanley Borden from
RKO RKO Pictures was an American film production and distribution company. In its original incarnation, as RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. (a subsidiary of Radio-Keith-Orpheum, aka: RKO) it was one of the Big FiveBig Five may refer to: Animals * th ...

RKO
. Its name was inspired by the
Harry Belafonte Harry Belafonte (born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr., March 1, 1927) is an American singer, songwriter, activist, and actor. One of the most successful Jamaican-American pop stars, as he popularised the Trinbagonian Caribbean The Caribbean ( ...

Harry Belafonte
song " Island in the Sun". Blackwell explained in 2009: "I loved music so much, I just wanted to get into it, or be as close to it as I could." Tom Hayes, the label's sales manager between 1965 and 1967, referred to the early period of the label in the UK as "organized chaos". "
My Boy Lollipop "My Boy Lollipop" (originally "My Girl Lollypop") is a song written in the mid-1950s by Robert Spencer of the doo-wop group The Cadillacs, and usually credited to Spencer, Morris Levy, and Johnny Roberts. It was first recorded in New York in 1956 ...
", sung by
Millie Small Millicent Dolly May Small CD (6 October 1947 – 5 May 2020) was a Jamaican singer and songwriter, best known for her 1964 recording of "My Boy Lollipop "My Boy Lollipop" (originally "My Girl Lollypop") is a song written in the mid-1950s b ...
, was the label's first success in the UK and led to a world tour that also involved Blackwell. Blackwell explained in a 50th anniversary documentary that he was only interested in building long-term careers at that stage in time, rather than short-term projects. Suzette Newman has been a close colleague of Chris Blackwell's since working together in the early days of Island Records, and while there she ran the Mango world music label. Suzette Newman and Chris Salewicz were the editors for the book ''The Story of Island Records:
Keep On Running #REDIRECT Keep On Running "Keep On Running" is a song written and first recorded by Jackie Edwards (musician), Jackie Edwards. It became a hit in the UK for The Spencer Davis Group; their version reached number one in the charts. Recordings "Keep O ...
''. Blackwell relocated to England in May 1962 to garner greater levels of attention after the local Jamaican sound systems proved to be overwhelmingly successful. The label was based at a now demolished basement in Kilburn,
London Borough of Brent The London Borough of Brent () is a London borough The London boroughs are the 32 local authority districts that make up the ceremonial county The counties and areas for the purposes of the lieutenancies, also referred to as the lieu ...
, in a property that was used by
Sonny Roberts Sonny Roberts (1932 – March 17, 2021), often known as Sonny Orbitone, was a Jamaican record producer who had success within the British reggae market in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s with his Planetone and Orbitone record labels. Born in 1932 i ...
's
Planetone Planetone was a British independent record label An independent record label (or indie label) is a record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identif ...
label and whose landlord was
Lee Gopthal Lehman Serikeesna Gopthal (1 March 1938 – 29 August 1997), known as Lee Gopthal, was a Jamaican-British record label owner and promoter, the co-founder of Trojan Records. Life and career He was born in Constant Spring, Jamaica, into a Indo-J ...
who would later create
Trojan Records Trojan Records is a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom ...
.
The vast majority of the artists who had signed to Blackwell's fledgling label while he was in Jamaica agreed to allow the musical entrepreneur to release their music in the UK. While in England, Blackwell travelled throughout the city carrying his stock with him and sold to record stores in the city. He did not provide any copies to radio stations, as they would not play any of the Island music; the music was also not reviewed by the press. Meanwhile, Goodall left to start the Doctor Bird (label), Doctor Bird record label in 1965. Blackwell signed the
Spencer Davis Group The Spencer Davis Group were a British Rock music, rock band formed in Birmingham in 1963, by Spencer Davis (guitar), brothers Steve Winwood (keyboards, guitar) and Muff Winwood (bass guitar), and Pete York (drums). Their best known songs incl ...
to the label (at that time, many Island releases were being distributed by
Philips Koninklijke Philips N.V. (in Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer t ...
/ Fontana). The group became very popular and Island started their own independent series to spotlight UK rock talent. They signed artists such as
John Martyn Iain David McGeachy (11 September 1948 – 29 January 2009), known professionally as John Martyn, was a British singer-songwriter and guitarist. Over a 40-year career, he released 23 studio albums, and received frequent critical acclaim. ...
,
Fairport Convention Fairport Convention are a British folk rock British folk rock is a form of folk rock which developed in the United Kingdom from the mid 1960s, and was at its most significant in the 1970s. Though the merging of folk and rock music came fro ...

Fairport Convention
,
Free Free may refer to: Concept * Freedom, having the ability to do something, without having to obey anyone/anything. * Emancipate, to procure political rights, as for a disenfranchised group * Free will, control exercised by rational agents over t ...
, and greatly influenced the growing
FM radio FM broadcasting is a method of radio broadcasting Image:Long wave radio station 002 Motala Sweden.JPG, Long wave radio broadcasting station, Motala, Sweden Image:Tyholt taarnet.jpg, upBroadcasting tower in Trondheim, Norway Radio broadcastin ...
market. By the late 1960s and early 1970s, they were a major label in England with artists including
Roxy Music Roxy Music were an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compoun ...

Roxy Music
,
King Crimson King Crimson are a progressive rock Progressive rock (shortened as prog; also known as classical rock or symphonic rock; sometimes conflated with art rock) is a broad genre of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom and United St ...
, Sparks,
Traffic Traffic on roads A road is a wide way leading from one place to another, typically one with a specially prepared surface which vehicles and bikes can use. Roads consist of one or two roadway A carriageway (British English Briti ...
,
The Wailers ''The'' () is a grammatical Article (grammar), article in English language, English, denoting persons or things already mentioned, under discussion, implied or otherwise presumed familiar to listeners, readers or speakers. It is the definite art ...
,
Cat Stevens Yusuf Islam (born Steven Demetre Georgiou; ), commonly known by his stage names Cat Stevens, Yusuf, and Yusuf / Cat Stevens, is a British singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. His musical style consists of folk music, folk, pop, rock, a ...
,
Steve Winwood Stephen Lawrence Winwood (born 12 May 1948) is an English singer, songwriter and musician whose genres include blue-eyed soul Blue-eyed soul (also known as white soul) is a slang, p. 41. music industry term for rhythm and blues Rhythm ...
and many others. (In the US, many of their releases were issued on A&M prior to Island signing up distribution deals with
Capitol A capitol is a building in which a legislature meets, including: Political authority of a territorial unit * United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. * Numerous List of state capitols in the United States, U.S. state and territorial capitols * ...

Capitol
and later Atlantic Records, Atlantic, and also independent distribution.) For Toots and the Maytals, the group that introduced the term "reggae" in song with their 1968 single "Do the Reggay", Chris Blackwell was the one who decided on the line-up of the group before introducing them to an international audience. Blackwell had signed
Bob Marley Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley, (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer, songwriter, and musician. Considered one of the pioneers of reggae Reggae () is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category tha ...
, and now Toots and the Maytals. In November 2016, Jackie Jackson (bassist), Jackie Jackson described the formation of the group in a radio interview for Kool 97 FM Jamaica.T interview with Jackie Jackson, Paul Douglas, and Radcliffe "Dougie" Bryan
Kool 97 FM. 27 November 2016. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
Accompanied by Paul Douglas (musician), Paul Douglas and Radcliffe "Dougie" Bryan in studio, Jackson explained:
We're all original members of Toots and the Maytals band. First it was Toots and the Maytals, three guys: Toots Hibbert, Toots, Raleigh, and Jerry. ... And then they were signed to Island Records, Chris Blackwell. And we were their recording band. One day we were summoned to Chris' house. And he says, "Alright gentleman, I think it's time. This Toots and the Maytals looks like it's going to be a big thing". By this time he had already signed Bob (Marley). So in his camp, Island Records, there was Toots and the Maytals]/ the late Bob Marley; we were talking about reggae is going international now. We kept on meeting and he (Blackwell) decided that the backing band that back all of the songs, the recording band, should be the Maytals band. So everything came under Toots and the Maytals. So we became Maytals also. And then we hit the road in 1975 ... we were the opening act for the Eagles (band), Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and Jackson Browne. We were the opening act for The Who for about two weeks.
Needing a bigger premises, Island Records together with
Trojan Records Trojan Records is a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom ...
moved to a warehouse in Neasden, London. Then in 1972, Island severed business interests with Trojan and moved to a new base in Ladbroke Grove, West London. The first Toots and the Maytals album released and distributed by Chris Blackwell's Island Records was ''Funky Kingston.'' Toots and the Maytals, The Maytals had recently added a full-time backing band that included drummer Paul Douglas (musician), Paul Douglas and bassist Jackie Jackson, and Chris Blackwell joined the group in the studio as a co-producer for the album. Music critic Lester Bangs described the album in ''Stereo Review'' as "perfection, the most exciting and diversified set of reggae tunes by a single artist yet released." As Blackwell says, "The Maytals were unlike anything else ... sensational, raw and dynamic." Blackwell had a strong commitment to Toots and the Maytals, saying: "I've known Toots longer than anybody – much longer than Bob (Bob Marley). Toots is one of the purest human beings I've met in my life, pure almost to a fault."Katz, David
"Toots and the Maytals' Live: From Stage to Wax in 24 Hours"
Red Bull Music Academy, 19 June 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
Despite the initial establishment work that Blackwell completed almost single-handedly, Island struggled as a business in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Bob Marley Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley, (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer, songwriter, and musician. Considered one of the pioneers of reggae Reggae () is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category tha ...
's 1981 death was detrimental to the label, especially after its having engineered Marley's international breakthrough only a few years earlier, while Irish rock band , which had signed to Island in March 1980, was growing in popularity, but had not yet reached the international superstar status that was to come. In 1981, Blackwell also used the label to finance a new film production and distribution company, producing the film ''Countryman (film), Countryman''. In 1982, Paul Morley and producer Trevor Horn started the ZTT label under the Island banner and Blackwell was known to approve excessive spending by the label. Morley recalls in a 2009 book about Island Records:
I eventually grew to appreciate how Chris Blackwell, and therefore Island Records, was not about one thing, or one style, or one system, or one way of doing things ... [I began] reflecting how the world functions and reinvents itself precisely because it is a fluid, sometimes dangerous, always exhilarating union of systems and beliefs and the best way of allowing the world to progress is to mix up and place in glorious conflict these various systems and beliefs.
In 1983, the film production company formed a partnership with Shep Gordon's Alive Enterprises to form Island Alive and had success with ''Kiss of the Spider Woman (film), Kiss of the Spider Woman'', ''Koyaanisqatsi'', and ''Stop Making Sense''. The partnership was dissolved in 1985. In August 1987, the company was not able to pay a US$5 million sum that it owed to U2 in royalties for ''The Joshua Tree'' album, as it had diverted the funds to finance several unsuccessful films. U2 responded by negotiating a deal whereby they invested the unpaid royalties into the label in exchange for a stake in the label that was estimated to be around 10 per cent. The label's 4th & Broadway division, operating since the mid-1980s, achieved some success marketing alternative hip hop music, hip hop and dance-pop music with artists such as Eric B. & Rakim, Eric B. and Rakim and the Stereo MCs. Mango (Chaka Demus & Pliers, Chaka Demus and Pliers) was another Island dance-oriented subsidiary, while it was singer Robert Palmer (singer), Robert Palmer who achieved worldwide success with the rock song "Addicted to Love (song), Addicted to Love" in 1986. African musicians such as King Sunny Adé and Angélique Kidjo were also championed by Blackwell.


PolyGram acquisition

In July 1989, Blackwell sold Island Records and Island Music to the PolyGram UK Group for Pound sterling, £180 million (United States dollar, US$300 million)—he explained in 2009: "It had gotten too big and too corporate for me and I couldn't really handle it." Following the sale, Island was no longer an independent company, but Blackwell was given a position on PolyGram's board and stayed on as CEO of PolyGram's new Island Entertainment division for ten years. PolyGram immediately began reissuing much of the Island back catalogue on compact disc and expanded Island's reach through its global manufacturing and distribution network, but the label was relatively unfocused in the 1990s. Blackwell eventually ended his association with the company in 1997, as the corporate life hindered the independent ethos of his personal life. "I never really had a job until I sold Island to PolyGram in 1989. It had gotten too corporate," he commented afterwards. After Blackwell left, PolyGram closed Island's film business. Blackwell left to found the Palm Pictures company and run a chain of boutique hotels in Miami, US and the Caribbean, including the very exclusive Goldeneye (estate), once the Jamaican home of James Bond creator Ian Fleming. Then in May 1998, all of PolyGram and its associated labels were purchased by Seagram which announced its plan to integrate PolyGram with UMG to produce an estimated cost savings, within a couple of years, of between US$275 million and $300 million annually. Seagram further explained that the acquisition would unite a significant international presence with a thriving domestic business, as more than three-quarters of PolyGram's sales were outside the US.


Under Universal Music Group

In December 1998 and the first three months of 1999, UMG placed three divisions under the management of the Island brand: one in the UK, one in the US, and one in Germany. In each territory, these companies were merged under umbrella groups: *In the UK, Island Records Group, now operating under Virgin EMI Records since 2013. *In the US, Island, Mercury Records, Mercury, and Def Jam and 14 other record labels were merged into The Island Def Jam Music Group; however, within the year, Island/Mercury decided to build upon the success of Def Jam Recordings and re-incorporated the label as The Island Def Jam Music Group. On April 1, 2014, Universal Music announced the disbandment of IDJMG, one of four operational umbrella groups within Universal Music. Effective as of the same day of the announcement, Island Records and Def Jam Recordings, Def Jam will now operate as autonomous record labels. *In Germany, Island and Mercury merged to become divisions of the Island Mercury Label group. However, in 2001, UMG was merged with French company Vivendi SA, Vivendi S.A. to create Vivendi Universal S.A.; but the music company remains under the name Universal Music Group (UMG). In the US, Island became a predominantly pop/rock label, as their urban artists were assigned to either Def Jam or Def Soul, a new Island/Def Jam Rhythm and blues, R&B imprint. Following the takeover of Island by UMG, flagship band U2 were dissatisfied after chief Jason Iley moved to the Mercury label in the mid-2000s and signed with Mercury for the UK and Interscope Records for the US. However, successful artists such as Tricky (musician), Tricky and
PJ Harvey Polly Jean Harvey (born 9 October 1969) is an English singer, songwriter and musician. Primarily known as a vocalist and guitarist, she is also proficient with a wide range of instruments. Harvey began her career in 1988 when she joined local ...

PJ Harvey
were impressed by the label and signed on as artists. Tricky explained: "I knew I could get freedom. I knew I could do what I wanted to do.", while Harvey later stated:
I came to work with them, sort of fully formed—the way that I looked, the way that I sounded: that was already there. And I felt, like, that they just supported where that was going to go.
The label celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009.


Island 50

In 2009, Island Records marked the 50th anniversary of its foundation in
Jamaica Jamaica (; ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, residence or ...

Jamaica
by Chris Blackwell with a series of live concerts and an exhibition under the Island 50 banner. The events were a celebration of the street-cool, independent outlook and striking visual imagery at the label's creative core. These festivities centred around a week-long run of shows at Shepherd's Bush Empire and Bush Hall in London. The concerts featured performances tracing the label's history from its reggae and jazz roots to the modern era. Among the artists who appeared were Sly & Robbie, Ernest Ranglin, Paul Weller, The Compass Point All Stars, The I Threes, Aswad, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Kid Creole & the Coconuts,
Grace Jones Grace Beverly Jones (born 19 May 1948) is a Jamaican-American model, singer, songwriter, and actress. In 1999, Jones ranked 82nd on VH1 VH1 (originally an initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken languag ...

Grace Jones
, Steel Pulse, Keane, Tom Tom Club, Toots & The Maytals, The Mighty Diamonds, Yusuf Islam/
Cat Stevens Yusuf Islam (born Steven Demetre Georgiou; ), commonly known by his stage names Cat Stevens, Yusuf, and Yusuf / Cat Stevens, is a British singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. His musical style consists of folk music, folk, pop, rock, a ...
, Bombay Bicycle Club, Baaba Maal and . Another Island 50 tribute event was held over four nights at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, with Marianne Faithfull, Grace Jones and Sly & Robbie all appearing, and Chris Blackwell holding a Question & Answer session. There was also a major exhibition at the The Vinyl Factory, Vinyl Factory Gallery in Soho, held in an open space beneath the record shop Phonica. The exhibition featured a display of treasured musical artifacts, including the Trabant car from the sleeve of 's ''Achtung Baby'',
Nick Drake Nicholas Rodney Drake (19 June 1948 – 25 November 1974) was an English singer-songwriter known for his acoustic guitar-based songs. He did not find a wide audience during his lifetime, but his work gradually achieved wider notice and rec ...
's guitar, the dress worn by
Amy Winehouse Amy Jade Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011) was an English singer and songwriter. She was known for her deep, expressive contralto A contralto () is a type of classical Classical may refer to: European antiquity *Classical an ...

Amy Winehouse
at the 2008 Grammy Awards, the handwritten lyric sheet for Winehouse's song "Love Is a Losing Game" and Bob Marley's passport application form. The exhibition contained 800 prints showcasing the work for Island of the photographers Adrian Boot, Jean-Paul Goude, Anton Corbijn, Gered Mankowitz, Keith Morris (photographer), Keith Morris and Brian Cooke, and the London exhibition also featured live performances at the Vinyl Factory Gallery by DJ Shadow and
PJ Harvey Polly Jean Harvey (born 9 October 1969) is an English singer, songwriter and musician. Primarily known as a vocalist and guitarist, she is also proficient with a wide range of instruments. Harvey began her career in 1988 when she joined local ...

PJ Harvey
.


Into Island's sixth decade: 2009–2017

Following its 50th anniversary in 2009, Island Records entered its sixth decade on a tide of optimism. The years that followed saw fresh success for a number of established acts, including
PJ Harvey Polly Jean Harvey (born 9 October 1969) is an English singer, songwriter and musician. Primarily known as a vocalist and guitarist, she is also proficient with a wide range of instruments. Harvey began her career in 1988 when she joined local ...

PJ Harvey
, Keane, Paul Weller and Bombay Bicycle Club and an exciting wave of new signings. In its largest live production since its 2009 anniversary, the label also staged a concert by The Weeknd and Jack Garratt on Osea Island, a small island in Essex, as part of a bespoke one-day festival for 400 guests, including label staff, media and 200 fans who obtained tickets via a ballot. 2016 proved a particularly successful year for the label in the UK: over a seven-week period between April and June, four separate Island acts spent at least one week at number one. The albums concerned were
PJ Harvey Polly Jean Harvey (born 9 October 1969) is an English singer, songwriter and musician. Primarily known as a vocalist and guitarist, she is also proficient with a wide range of instruments. Harvey began her career in 1988 when she joined local ...

PJ Harvey
's ''The Hope Six Demolition Project'', Drake (entertainer), Drake's ''Views (album), Views'' (which spent two weeks at number one),
Ariana Grande Ariana Grande-Butera () (born June 26, 1993) is an American singer and actress. Born in Boca Raton, Florida, Grande began her career at age 15 in the 2008 Broadway theatre, Broadway musical ''13 (musical), 13''. She rose to fame for her role ...

Ariana Grande
's ''Dangerous Woman'' and Catfish and the Bottlemen, Catfish & The Bottlemen's ''The Ride (Catfish and the Bottlemen album), The Ride''.


Island's sixth decade: the artists

PJ Harvey Polly Jean Harvey (born 9 October 1969) is an English singer, songwriter and musician. Primarily known as a vocalist and guitarist, she is also proficient with a wide range of instruments. Harvey began her career in 1988 when she joined local ...

PJ Harvey
's eighth studio album, 2011's ''Let England Shake'', was one of the key records of Island's sixth decade. Made in a cliff-top church in Dorset, it won the 2011 Mercury Music Prize, making Harvey the only artist to land the prestigious award twice (she had prevailed ten years previously with ''Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea'').
Mumford & Sons Mumford & Sons are a British folk rock band formed in London in 2007. The band consists of Marcus Mumford (lead vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, drums), Ben Lovett (British musician), Ben Lovett (vocals, keyboards, piano), and Ted Dwan ...

Mumford & Sons
, who grew out of a series of jam sessions in London in 2007, signed a licensing deal with Island in 2009. Heralded as standard bearers for a vibrant new wave of folkish, countrified rock, their debut album, ''Sigh No More (Mumford & Sons album), Sigh No More'', sold two million, reaching number two in Britain and America. It also won best British album at the BRIT Awards in February 2011. The follow-up, ''Babel (Mumford & Sons album), Babel'', did even better in 2012, becoming the UK's fastest-selling album of that year, going to number one in Britain and the US and winning album of the year at the 2013 Grammy Awards. Island also secured the signing of English indie rock band
Florence and the Machine Florence and the Machine (stylised as Florence + the Machine) are an English indie rock band that formed in London in 2007, consisting of vocalist Florence Welch, keyboardist Isabella Summers, guitarist Rob Ackroyd, harpist Tom Monger, and a co ...

Florence and the Machine
whose debut studio album ''Lungs (album), Lungs'' (2009) sold four million copies, and spent over 12 months on the UK Albums Chart before being crowned British Album Of The Year at the 2010 BRIT Awards ceremony. ''Lungs'' was followed by the studio albums ''Ceremonials'' (2011), and ''How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful'' (2015). Keane were another of the big successes of Island's sixth decade. Having topped the charts with their five million-selling debut album ''Hopes and Fears'' in 2004, they went on to secure five consecutive number-one albums in the UK (a feat bettered only by The Beatles), with subsequent releases ''Under the Iron Sea'' (2006), ''Perfect Symmetry (Keane album), Perfect Symmetry'' (2008), ''Night Train (EP), Night Train'' (2010) and ''Strangeland (album), Strangeland'' (2012) all topping the charts. Paul Weller's relationship with Island dates back to his fourth solo album, 1997's ''Heavy Soul (Paul Weller album), Heavy Soul'', and its 2000 follow-up Heliocentric (Paul Weller album), Heliocentric. He returned to the label in 2008 and began an outstanding trilogy of releases that contained some of his strongest solo work ''22 Dreams'' (2008), the Mercury Music Prize-nominated ''Wake Up The Nation'' (2010) and ''Sonik Kicks'' (2012). North London quartet Bombay Bicycle Club also released four albums on Island, with each one signalling a change of direction: the indie-rock of 2009's ''Bombay Bicycle Club#I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose (2008-09), I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose'' paved the way for 2010's folkier ''Flaws (album), Flaws'', the modern rock of 2011's ''Bombay Bicycle Club#A Different Kind of Fix (2011-12), A Different Kind Of Fix'' and the broad-based invention of 2014's ''So Long, See You Tomorrow (album), So Long, See You Tomorrow''. Having built a loyal live following, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Catfish & The Bottlemen signed to Island in 2014. After reaching platinum sales status in the UK with their Top Ten debut album, ''The Balcony (album), The Balcony'', the Welsh rock band won the BBC Introducing Award at the first BBC Music Awards in 2014 and were crowned British Breakthrough Act at the BRIT Awards in 2016 (an award voted for by BBC Radio 1, Radio 1 listeners). Their second album, 2016's ''The Ride (Catfish and the Bottlemen album), The Ride'', was a UK number one. Island was also responsible for securing major British breakthroughs for two of the 21st century's biggest international superstars in Drake (musician), Drake and The Weeknd. The success of Toronto hip-hop artist Drake came after the label had worked patiently to build his profile over a number of years, culminating in the success of his fourth album ''Views (album), Views'' and its attendant singles in 2016. "One Dance", Drake's first number one single in the UK, had 1.95 million sales to become Britain's biggest-selling single of 2016. The single's 15-week run at number one equalled the mark for the second longest in UK chart history. With the Island-signed Mike Posner having held the number one spot with "I Took a Pill in Ibiza" for four consecutive weeks before being replaced by "One Dance", Island held the top spot in the UK singles chart for 19 consecutive weeks between March and August 2016. To crown a record-breaking year, Drake was named the world's best-selling recording artist of 2016 by international music industry organisation IFPI in February 2017. Canadian singer and songwriter The Weeknd also cemented his position as one of the world's leading recording artists, with the 2016 success of his third album ''Starboy (album), Starboy''. Its success was the culmination of a strategy that had seen Island build his UK profile over a four-year period that dated from his 2013 studio album ''Kiss Land''. Island's commitment to further nurturing the careers of global superstars was reiterated in June 2016 with the signing of Sean Paul. The Jamaican singer, rapper and songwriter released "No Lie (Sean Paul song), No Lie", his first single for Island, in November 2016. Signed to Island via a licensing deal with independent label PMR, Disclosure were formed by two brothers from Reigate in Surrey, Guy and Howard Lawrence. The duo discovered the joys of nineties House music, house, techno and two-step garage while studying music production at college, and went on to enjoy success with their two Island albums ''Settle (album), Settle'' (2013) and ''Caracal (album), Caracal'' (2015), making extensive use of an array of guest vocalists including Sam Smith (singer), Sam Smith, Jamie Woon, Eliza Doolittle, Lorde and Gregory Porter. One of the acts who guested on ''Settle'' was AlunaGeorge, a boy-girl duo from London (singer Aluna Francis and musician and producer George Reid), who released their debut album, ''Body Music'', on Island in 2013. Like Disclosure, Jessie Ware signed to Island through a link with independent label PMR Records, PMR. A soulful singer-songwriter from Brixton, Ware was nominated for the 2012 Mercury Music Prize with her smooth debut album, Devotion (Jessie Ware album), Devotion, and enjoyed further success with 2014's Tough Love (Jessie Ware album), Tough Love. Another Island act to enjoy a significant breakthrough was Yorkshire singer John Newman, who topped the UK charts with his first solo single, "Love Me Again (John Newman song), Love Me Again", and his debut album Tribute (John Newman album), Tribute. In May 2018, incumbent president David Massey (music executive), David Massey left Island to join Sony Music Entertainment's relaunch of Arista Records.
Darcus Beese Darcus Beese OBE The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry An order of chivalry, order of knighthood, chivalric order, or equestrian order is an order of knights typically founded during or inspired by t ...
, Order of the British Empire, OBE took on the role of president upon Massey's departure. To make the transition, Beese relocated from the United Kingdom to Island's offices at
Universal Music Group Universal Music Group N.V. (often abbreviated as UMG and referred to as just Universal Music) is a Dutch–American multinational Music industry, music corporation. UMG's corporate headquarters are located in Hilversum, Netherlands and its op ...
's New York City building.


Seventh decade and further expansions: 2019–present

In July 23, 2020, Universal Music Group and its local subsidiary MCA Music (Philippines), MCA Music launched Island Records Philippines, the first Southeast Asian branch of the 61-year old label. The Philippines branch is led by former Sony Music Philippines, Inc., Sony Music Philippines and Sindikato Management executive Enzo Valdez.


Manga Entertainment

Island World Communications, under the leadership of Blackwell and Andy Frain, created Manga Entertainment Ltd, the anime and live action Japanese film division of Island in 1991. In that year, Laurence Guinness, the Senior VP at Island World Communications bought the distribution license for ''Akira (1988 film), Akira'' from ICA Projects in London, and the distribution of what was the label's first release is considered a crucial milestone in the establishment of anime in the UK. In 1994, Island sold the distribution licenses for most of Manga's releases to Siren Entertainment, an independent entertainment company in Australia. Those rights were then given to Madman Entertainment in 1999 when Siren became solely an acquisitions company.


Artists and recordings

The recording roster of Island Records, both past and present, has been and continues to be diverse. The label continues to champion new music, a practice that was highlighted at the Island Records 50th anniversary event, at which new artists provided the entertainment.


Subsidiaries and labels

This list is probably incomplete, and some of the dates are uncertain. * Al's Records (1996–1997) * Aladdin Records (UK) (1965–66) * Antilles Records (1972–1998) * Apollo Recordings (2006–2007) * Avant Garden Records (2018–present; distribution deal) * Black Swan Records (UK) (1963–1965 and mid-1970s) * Blue Mountain (UK imprint only, 1970s) * Blue (1999–2001) * Blunted (1993–1996) * De facto Records (2009–2010) * Dublekick Company (2010–Present) * Europa Recordings (2006–2007) * Fallout Records (UK division) * 4th & B'way Records, 4th & Broadway (1983–1998, 2014–present) * Fruition (1996–1998) * Gee Street Records (1990–1997) * Great Jones (1988–1994) * Hannibal (1981–unknown closing date, distributed under Antilles) * Island Black Music (1995–1998) * Island France (2009–present; previously known as Vertigo France) * Island Jamaica (1993–1997) * Island Jamaica Jazz (1996) * Island Masters (1980s–1990s; reissues) * Island Records Australia (2007–present) * Island Records Philippines (2020–present; under parent label MCA/Universal Music Philippines) * Island Reggae Greats (1985, compilation series; re-issued in several forms) * Fontana Distribution, Island Trading Company (US holding distributor under
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; 1983–1989) * Island Urban Music (2007) * Island Visual Arts (1985 and 1990s) * Jump Up Records (1963–67) * Loose Cannon Records (1994–1996) * MLD Entertainment (2010–Present) * Manga Entertainment (1991–1997, moved to
Chris Blackwell Christopher Percy Gordon Blackwell (born 22 June 1937) is an English businessman and former record producer, and the founder of Island Records Island Records is a multinational record label owned by Universal Music Group Universal ...

Chris Blackwell
's Palm Pictures, then was sold to Starz Media) * Mango Records (1972–1997, US imprint only until 1993) * Mango Street (1989–1992) * Mercury Records (2014–2015) * MonarC Entertainment (2002, founded by Mariah Carey) * Safehouse Records (2015–present, founded by
Demi Lovato Demetria Devonne Lovato ( ; born August 20, 1992) is an American singer, songwriter, and actor. After appearing on the children's television series ''Barney & Friends'' (2002–2004), Lovato rose to prominence for playing Mitchie Torres in the ...

Demi Lovato
,
Nick Jonas Nicholas Jerry Jonas (born September 16, 1992) is an American singer, songwriter and actor. Jonas began acting in Broadway at the age of seven, and released his debut single in 2002 which caught the attention of Columbia Records Columbia ...

Nick Jonas
, and Phil Mclntyre) * Sense ("Sense of Island"; 1990–1991) * So So Def Recordings (2007–2009, founded by Jermaine Dupri) * Springtime! (1981–1985) * Stiff Records (1984–1986 only) * Stolen Transmission (2005−2007, still in business, but not part of Island any more) * Sue Records (1963–68) * Super Records (2007–present) * Surprise Records (mid-1960s, later known as Sportdisc) * TAG Recordings, TAG Records (2008–2009) * Trade 2 (1996–1997) * Teen Island (2008–2011) *
Trojan Records Trojan Records is a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom ...
(1967–1968 only) * Tuff Gong (1990–present, founded by
Bob Marley Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley, (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer, songwriter, and musician. Considered one of the pioneers of reggae Reggae () is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category tha ...
) * Witchseason Productions (Joe Boyd)


References


External links

* (US) * (Australia) * (US) {{Authority control Island Records, British record labels Companies based in New York City IFPI members Jazz record labels Labels distributed by Universal Music Group Progressive rock record labels Record labels established in 1959 Reggae record labels Rhythm and blues record labels Rock record labels Universal Music Group