Chris Blackwell Biography


Birthday: June 22, 1937 (Cancer)

Born In: Westminster, London, England

Chris Blackwell is an English businessman and former record producer. He is the founder of Island records, which is one of Britain’s greatest independent labels. He had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, and according to them, he is “the single person most responsible for turning the world on to reggae music." Blackwell was born in Westminster, England. He spent his childhood in Jamaica. Later, he returned to England to continue his education at Harrow. It was during his early twenties that he formed Island Records with a startup investment provided by his parents. He began popularizing Jamaican music. His first song to be produced in the Jamaican style “ska” was a cover of the 1956 Barbie Gaye song ‘My Boy Lollypop’. His business eventually grew and became one of the most successful labels of the 1960s and beyond. Over the course of his career, he has worked with artistes such as Nirvana, King Crimson and Robert Palmer.
Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In June

Also Known As: Christopher Percy Gordon Blackwell

Age: 87 Years, 87 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Mary Vinson (m. 1998–2009)

children: Jake Blackwell, Ollie Blackwell

Born Country: England

Rock Musicians Business People

City: Westminster, England

Chris Blackwell formed Island Records in 1958, when he was in his early twenties. He received a startup investment of $10,000 from his parents for this purpose. His first business partner was Graeme Goodall, a radio personality. Their first release was a piano and vocal album by Lance Hayward, a Bermudian jazz pianist.
In 1961, Blackwell worked in the James Bond film ‘Dr No’, as a location scout and production assistant. After the film production wrapped, he was offered a full-time position. Since it was difficult for him to choose between music and films, he went to a psychic, who told him that he would find success if he chose music.
By 1962, Island had already released 26 singles as well as two albums. He now began marketing a certain style of Jamaican music, which became known as ‘ska’. In 1964, he produced Millie Small’s cover of a 1956 Barbie Gaye song named ‘My Boy Lollypop’. It was one of his first songs in the ska style. It became an international hit, selling six million records. It also increased the popularity of Island Records.
Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Island Records remained one of the most successful independent labels, producing songs by artistes such as Nirvana, King Crimson, Grace Jones, John Martyn, Spooky Tooth, Robert Palmer and Melissa Etheridge. He also signed artistes from non-English speaking countries like French singer Charlélie Couture.
He also moved into movies, and in 1972, he released ‘The Harder They Come’. It was the first time that Jamaican themes appeared in mainstream cinema. Another one of his accomplishments is bringing Bob Marley and The Wailers to a worldwide audience.
Blackwell also formed Mango Records, which featured artistes from Jamaica as well as from the Third World. The label introduced several artistes and bands like Burning Spear, Third World, and Salif Keita. Blackwell has also been involved in multiple philanthropic activities.
In 2001, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He also received the Ahmet Ertegun Award for his contribution to music. He thanked Steve Winwood during his acceptance speech.
He currently runs Island Outpost, which was set up to operate and market a group of elite resorts in Jamaica, such as Strawberry Hill in the Blue Mountains.
Continue Reading Below
Family & Personal Life
Chris Blackwell was born in Westminster, England, on 22 June 1937, to Joseph Blackwell and Blanche Lindo Blackwell. His mother was a Costa Rican-born Jamaican heiress. He spent his early years in Jamaica where his father served as a major in the Jamaica Regiment. He was 12 when his parents divorced.
Chris Blackwell’s first wife was Ada Blackwell. He was later married to Mary Vinson from 1998 to her death in 2009. He has two children named Jake and Ollie. His current relationship status is not known.
Recommended Lists:

Recommended Lists:


Grammy Awards
2006 Trustees Awards Winner

Follow Chris Blackwell On:

Recommended Lists:

How To Cite

Article Title
- Chris Blackwell Biography
- Editors,

People Also Viewed

Sting Biography
Ringo Starr Biography
Ringo Starr
Lily Allen Biography
Lily Allen
Keith Richards Biography
Keith Richards
Jimmy Page Biography
Jimmy Page
Mark Ronson Biography
Mark Ronson
(American, British)
Billy Idol Biography
Billy Idol
Lisa Vanderpump Biography
Lisa Vanderpump