2009 is the 50th anniversary of the founding of Island Records, arguably the most prestigious record label in the history of British music. To mark this milestone the label is collaborating with Island founder Chris Blackwell to arrange the Island 50 festival. The Island 50 festival will kick off in May 2009 with ‘ISLAND LIFE’ – a week of live shows by Island artists past and present, which will take place at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire week commencing 25th May ‘09. The line-up confirmed so far is as follows:
26th May – SLY & ROBBIE & THE COMPASS POINT ALLSTARS featuring VERY SPECIAL GUESTS;
27th May – THE FRATELLIS; VERY SPECIAL GUEST; BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB;
28th May – CAT STEVENS/YUSUF and friends, BAABA MAAL
29th May – PAUL WELLER; ERNEST RANGLIN; SPOOKY TOOTH
30th May – KEANE; TOM TOM CLUB; LADYHAWKE
31st May – AMY WINEHOUSE; TOOTS & THE MAYTALS; I BLAME COCO
Fans who sign up to the mailing list at www.island50.com will be able to take part in the exclusive ticket pre-sale from 9am on Thursday 12th March. Tickets go on general sale on Island50.com and other agents from 9am on Friday 13th March.
May 21st ’09 will see the publication of “KEEP ON RUNNING – THE STORY OF ISLAND RECORDS” edited by Chris Salewicz (acclaimed author of recent Joe Strummer biog ‘Redemption Song’) and will include contributions from celebrated writers such as Paul Morley, Jon Savage, Sean O’Hagan, Vivien Goldman, Lloyd Bradley, Robin Denselow, Sylvia Patterson, Richard Williams and Joe Boyd.
The ‘ISLAND LIFE’ Exhibition of Photos, Artwork and Memorabilia, which will run from May 22nd – 17th June, will take place at The Vinyl Factory, Phonica Records, 51 Poland Street, London W1F 7LZ. The exhibition will be divided into a number of themed areas that loosely define the numerous eras in Island’s history – Out of Jamaica, The Pink Label, The Season of the Witch, The Glitterball Years, Island Jamaica, Singular Voices, Global Expansion, World Music, and The New Millennium.
Music retailer HMV will be a key partner in the Island 50 celebrations and will host a mini-exhibition reflecting the history and heritage of Island Records, its iconic artists and recordings at the flagship HMV store (360 Oxford Street, London W1) and will help to celebrate through its instore radio, channel hmv, and its social network site, getcloser.com, which will make a special feature of Island 50 artists in May.
The Island 50 Anniversary activities will be mirrored around the world later in the year. Check www.island50.com for updates and announcements will be made in individual territories in due course.
Chris Blackwell founded the Island label in Kingston, Jamaica in 1959 with capital of just £1000. Relocating to London in the early 60s Blackwell built the most diverse and enviable back catalogue of any independent record label in history. From Island’s early Jamaican roots in ska and rock-steady, through the label’s expansion to become the cutting edge of progressive rock in the late 60s, and then on to the signing of such international superstars as Bob Marley and U2, Blackwell brought to Island a unique vision and passion which still informs the label’s approach to this day.
Says Blackwell: “When I recorded ‘Lance Hayward at the Half Moon’ in 1959 at Federal Records Studio in Kingston, Jamaica, I had no inkling what path this had set me on. It has been an honour and a privilege to work with some of the greatest musical artists of all time. It was always my intention at Island to make records that stood the test of time, and I’m proud that Island is still a potent force in music 50 years since that first release. I’m very excited to be collaborating with the label to celebrate Island’s 50th birthday and I’m particularly excited about the week of shows in London.”
The Island label has been responsible for the careers of some of the biggest stars in music including U2, Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, Traffic, Free, Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, Sandy Denny, Toots & The Maytals, John Martyn, Marianne Faithfull, Aswad, Tom Waits, King Sunny Ade, Third World, Roxy Music, Robert Palmer, the B52s, Sly & Robbie, Melissa Etheridge, The Slits, Steel Pulse, Grace Jones, Tom Tom Club, Pulp, Tricky, Talvin Singh, and latterly Amy Winehouse, PJ Harvey, DJ Shadow, Sugababes, Keane, The Fratellis, Scott Matthews, Paul Weller, The Feeling, Portishead and Florence & The Machine.