The Islander: My Life in Music and Beyond (Hardcover)

The Islander: My Life in Music and Beyond By Chris Blackwell, Paul Morley (With) Cover Image
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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 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.

About the Author

Chris Blackwell is the founder of Island Records, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and is credited with being responsible for turning the world on to reggae music. Blackwell spent his childhood in Jamaica and founded Island Records at the age of twenty-two. He went on to forge the careers of Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, Grace Jones, and U2, among many other high-profile acts, and produced records including Marley’s Catch a Fire and Uprising. Blackwell currently runs Island Outpost, a group of elite resorts in Jamaica, which includes Goldeneye—the former home of author Ian Fleming.

Paul Morley is a writer, broadcaster, and cultural critic who has covered music, art, and entertainment since the 1970s. A founding member of the electronic collective Art of Noise and a member of staff at the Royal Academy of Music, he is the author of a number of books about music including the bestselling The Age of Bowie and A Sound MindHow I Fell in Love with Classical Music and Decided to Rewrite its Entire History. He collaborated with music icon Grace Jones on her memoir, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs, and his two most recent books are biographies of Bob Dylan, You Lose Yourself, You Reappear, and Tony Wilson of Factory Records, From Manchester With Love.

Praise For…

“I read Chris Blackwell’s autobiography in one sitting, unable to tear myself away. From ‘My Boy Lollipop’ and Bob Marley, via Swinging London and punk, and all the way to Talking Heads and U2, I felt like I was reading the inside story of the music of my life.”
— Salman Rushdie, author of New York Times bestseller Quichotte

“C.B. had this way of throwing me in the deep end knowing that I would thrive on being challenged. As you’ll read in The Islander he knows how to get the very best out of people – he’s a mover and a shaker and a mischief maker.”
— Grace Jones, author of New York Times bestseller I’ll Never Write My Memoirs

“As you’re about to find out through the pages in this book, Chris Blackwell – who looms large in U2's life, and was our lifeline into the music world – is an adventurer, an entrepreneur, a buccaneer, a visionary, and a gentleman. I’m proud to know him.”
— Bono

“[Blackwell] is indisputably one of the greatest record executives in history. If you’re even a minor fan of music books, stop reading this article and buy his autobiography, The Islander, which was written (beautifully) with Paul Morley — seriously, it’s on the level of Elton John’s Me and Patti Smith’s Just Kids for all-time great music memoirs.”

"A highly entertaining, rapid-fire, hard-to-put-down memoir. The record producer/label founder/hotelier/film producer takes us on a rip-roaring ride through the 60s, 70s, and 80s, the most exciting years in popular music... The Islander is 320 pages long. I could have read 320 more."
Air Mail

The Islander, among its many pleasure, doubles as a firsthand history of the development of Jamaican music . . . [and] offers a vivid series of John Aubrey-esque ‘Brief Lives’ of Mr. Blackwell’s most notable artists . . . Mr. Blackwell’s sympathy for his subjects reveals unspoken truths we feel we might easily have intuited if only we’d listened to the music hard enough . . . I have never read anything better on Tom Waits, let alone in so few words . . . Best of all, one is always sent scurrying back to the music.”
The Wall Street Journal

“A superior story from start to finish, The Islander permits access to a remarkable world, but without any self-aggrandizing razzmatazz . . . to the credit of Blackwell’s collaborator, the veteran journalist Paul Morley, [this] story is told with a disciplined coherence that plunges deep beneath the surface.”
The Telegraph

“A thoroughly quotable autobiography . . . a book that’s hard to put down.”   

“This compelling autobiography charts the rise of the Island Records founder who became as much of a legend as the acts he championed . . . Blackwell helped revolutionize popular music, his label becoming a byword for uncompromised artistry and era-shaping acts . . . His story, warmly told with an unobtrusive ghost writer, is unique in popular music, its hero being not Blackwell but Jamaica itself.”
The Guardian Book Review  

8/10, Uncut

“A rip-roaring yarn, the ultimate behind the scenes insider look at the coolest label ever on the planet.”   
The Quietus

“[Blackwell] candidly details both his hits and his misses in a highly readable new memoir. The dizzying list of stars it covers spans oceans, genres and eras, including Bob Marley, U2, Cat Stevens, Robert Palmer and Steve Winwood, who was, for years, the label’s MVP. A deeper look at his catalogue shows an uncanny knack for promoting some of Britain’s boldest acts, like King Crimson, Free, Mott the Hoople, Fairport Convention and Roxy Music, as well some of its most sensitive, like Sandy Denny, Nick Drake and John Martyn. Then there are those Island artists who cannot be classified in any way, like Grace Jones, John Cale, Marianne Faithfull and Eno.”
The Guardian  

“Fascinating autobiography of the Island Records founder. The Islander is a treasure.”  

“A memoir of a singular music mogul, his record label, and an era before rock became so corporate … Before music even enters the story, he recalls being punched by Errol Flynn and hanging out with Ian Fleming … Blackwell chronicles how he straddled the cultures of London and Jamaica and how an indifferent student with few career prospects learned the music business from the ground up … Highly recommended.”
— Kirkus, starred review

“Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Blackwell, founder of Island Records, delivers a fascinating behind-the-scenes account of his consequential career as a record producer . . . Throughout, Blackwell provides engrossing details of his road to success—including discovering such famed musicians as Bono and Cat Stevens—but most impressive is his refreshing self-awareness; as he writes, ‘There’s no two ways about it: I am a member of the Lucky Sperm Club. I was born into wealth and position.’ Music lovers shouldn’t miss this.”
Publisher’s Weekly
Product Details
ISBN: 9781982172695
ISBN-10: 198217269X
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: June 7th, 2022
Pages: 352
Language: English

How to read more
( Birmingham Museums Trust’s Digital Image Resource shares thousands of images that span decades of Birminghams vibrant past)

How To Read More

If you love reading, but for some reason you read less and less, know that everything is fine. It happens.
Our lives today have so many things that distract us - how can we not put books away when all these movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, social networks and endless surfing in online stores are around ...
Yes, it's really hard to resist, but you certainly can!

In this article, we want to share with you some tips to read more often and more successfully.
These are some notes and some practices that we have collected for our SUNDOG BOOKS readers club.
And maybe it will bring more books into your life!

Why do we want/need to read more?

To start reading more, you have to understand why you need it.
And you will be surprised, but your goals can be quite varied:

- for work
If you read a lot on duty, then you definitely need to speed up the process. The logic here is simple: read faster → work faster → more time for books for yourself.

- for education
you need this for your educational career or sometimes you just want to read to learn. And, with all the new alternative ways to gain knowledge (podcasts, online courses and videos), the book still does an excellent job of this task too.

- for self-development
all exercises for increasing speed, one way or another, improve cognition and memory.

- for fun
because good books always = fun!

Book lovers have an additional special goal for reading more often. If you love literature, you will understand what we mean: you want to catch everything - to follow modern literature, and not forget about the classics, look into non-fiction and children's publications. And there’s so much you want to reread! The goals are ambitious, but attainable if you read a lot.


And so - How to read more:
We will tell you about the methods that we use ourselves. Perhaps some will suit you as well.


15 minutes a day

You've probably already heard this rule: if you want to start a healthy habit, devote 15 minutes a day to it. Once upon a time, we all read irregularly, in jumps and starts. Sometimes we cannot open a book we have begun weeks ago. Therefore, you should decide to create a rule: devote at least 15 minutes a day to reading. Try reading before bed, or maybe during lunchtime, or even when you are having your morning coffee.

You will see progress immediately. You will notice that almost always your 15 minutes will grow into half an hour or more. But the most remarkable thing is that in three weeks your hands themselves will be looking for a book.


50 First Pages
This method advises - If the book hasn't hooked you from the first 50 pages, put it aside! Life is too short to read uninteresting books.

It is necessary to change the approach to books. At first it will be hard for you to stop and put the book down. Even if we put the book away, it will seem to reproach us from the shelf, mocking us as quitters. But in the end we should come to one simple thought: if it doesn’t hook your attention, you should not force yourself to read it.

***Fifty pages is not a bad test. Not the most objective, but definitely effective. It helps to determine whether it interests you or not, and whether to spend time on things that do not excite.


Reader's Diary

This should be used to improve the quality of reading - to make it more conscious. For starters, it can be a simple notebook with headings:

  • Author
  • Year of publication
  • Main characters
  • Scene
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Quotes

And, yes, a reader's diary is not a thing about quantity, but about quality. But, it can also motivate. When you open your diary and start looking at quotes (especially quotes), you immediately really want to read.


Maybe a Book Bet?
Several people can participate. Members of the betting group can come from friends, family, and also your colleagues. And of course you can set your own rules for participation, but we'll give you a simple example:

Everyone in the group should read and review a book over the course of a month with weekly updates. Anyone who does not finish a review buys the book for all other participants for the next month.


Speed Reading

Another effective way to increase the amount you read is speed reading. The logic here is simple - the faster you read, the more books you can enjoy.

*There are many online courses on speed reading, and you can also study on your own using instructional books. But, it is worth noting that this is a serious learning process that will require some effort on your part.



Reading every day is quite attainable, the main thing is to try to make it a habit.
Sometimes, instead of heading for Facebook, try opening a book and soon you won’t even remember why you needed to wander around social media.
And also - don't forget about audiobooks. They are a cool way to take the load off your eyes sometimes and just immerse yourself in the story. Some books are really strong in voice acting.


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