Chris Blackwell

The founder of the legendary Island Records, Chris Blackwell was among the most successful independent entrepreneurs in pop music history. As the company responsible for signing performers ranging from Traffic to U2 to Tom Waits, Island emerged as one of the most progressive labels in the industry; perhaps more importantly, its long affiliation with Bob Marley & the Wailers proved a primary force in introducing reggae into the global pop mainstream. Born in London on June 22, 1937, Blackwell founded Island while living in Jamaica in 1961; a British office followed a year later, and in 1963 he secured the overseas rights to the New York-based Sue label, through which he licensed material from Vee-Jay, Ace, and Kent. Although the majority of Island's records were independently distributed, a marketing deal with Fontana yielded the fledgling company's first hit, Millie's 1964 smash "My Boy Lollipop"; the Fontana imprint also appeared on releases from Island's first pop signing, the Spencer Davis Group.