Chris Blackwell

Chris Blackwell

Actor, Executive Producer


Chris Blackwell (born 1937) is a British music entrepreneur, film producer, and businessman. He is best known for founding Island Records, which launched the careers of artists such as Bob Marley, U2, and Grace Jones.

Blackwell grew up in Jamaica, the son of a wealthy family with significant political connections. He attended school in England and then returned to Jamaica in the 1950s. It was there that he founded Island Records and began producing music from local Jamaican artists. Blackwell's first big success was with Jamaican ska band The Skatalites, who he produced in 1964. From there he went on to sign a number of other Jamaican acts, including Bob Marley and the Wailers, Jimmy Cliff, and Toots and the Maytals.

In the 1970s, Island Records began to branch out, signing artists such as Cat Stevens and Traffic. Blackwell was also instrumental in launching the career of reggae star Grace Jones, producing her first four albums and signing her to Island Records. He was also responsible for bringing punk bands such as The Clash to a wider audience, and signing new wave acts such as Ultravox and Duran Duran.

In the 1980s, Blackwell sold Island Records to Polygram for a reported sum of £270 million. He then went on to become involved in film production, founding Palm Pictures in 1997 and producing a number of films, including The Cup, Dirty Pretty Things, and The Man Who Cried. He also set up a boutique hotel in Jamaica, the GoldenEye Hotel and Resort, which was the former home of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond.

Today, Blackwell still remains involved in the music and film industries, with his most recent project being the 2016 documentary Marley. He is also an active philanthropist, and in 2009 he was awarded a CBE by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the music industry.

Blackwell has earned a reputation as being one of the most influential figures in the music industry, and his impact on the sound of modern music cannot be underestimated. From Bob Marley to Grace Jones and U2, Blackwell has been responsible for some of the most iconic music of the last fifty years.