Following its 50th anniversary in 2009, Island Records entered its sixth decade on a tide of optimism. The years that followed saw fresh success for a number of established acts, including PJ Harvey, Keane, Paul Weller and Bombay Bicycle Club and an exciting wave of new signings. In its largest live production since its 2009 anniversary, the label also staged a concert by The Weeknd and Jack Garratt on Osea Island, a small island in Essex, as part of a bespoke one-day festival for 400 guests, including label staff, media and 200 fans who obtained tickets via a ballot.
PJ Harvey's eighth studio album, 2011's Let England Shake, was one of the key records of Island's sixth decade. Made in a cliff-top church in Dorset, it won the 2011 Mercury Music Prize, making Harvey the only artist to land the prestigious award twice (she had prevailed ten years previously with Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea). Mumford & Sons, who grew out of a series of jam sessions in London in 2007, signed a licensing deal with Island in 2009. Heralded as standard bearers for a vibrant new wave of folkish, countrified rock, their debut album, Sigh No More, sold two million, reaching number two in Britain and America. It also won best British album at the BRIT Awards in February 2011. The follow-up, Babel, did even better in 2012, becoming the UK's fastest-selling album of that year, going to number one in Britain and the US and winning album of the year at the 2013 Grammy Awards. Island also secured the signing of English indie rock band Florence and the Machine whose debut studio album Lungs (2009) sold four million copies, and spent over 12 months on the UK Albums Chart before being crowned British Album Of The Year at the 2010 BRIT Awards ceremony. Lungs was followed by the studio albums Ceremonials (2011), and How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (2015).
Chris Blackwell has written a new memoir called "The Islander: My Life In Music And Beyond." Chris Blackwell, welcome to FRESH AIR. It's a pleasure to have you on our show, and thank you for all the wonderful music that you've released over the decades. You grew up in Jamaica. You scouted island music. How did you first hear Bob Marley and the Wailers?
GROSS: So you got your start in music scouting records for jukeboxes, and at one time you were responsible for 63 jukeboxes in Jamaica. And for people who are too young to remember jukeboxes, you'd put in a coin or two and choose the record you wanted to hear, and the record would play. What was the importance of jukeboxes in Jamaica at the time you were filling the jukeboxes?
GROSS: You also scouted records for sound systems, and these were the sound systems, you know, that basically DJs would use at parties. Why were sound systems so important in Jamaica and spreading new music?
GROSS: Oh, and you describe it - that it was, like, very competitive because each person who had a sound system wanted to have great music that no one else had. So you'd scout records, including in the U.S., and then scrape off the label so that no one could figure out what it was so that they couldn't find it.
GROSS: You decided to start your own record company. You'd been hunting for records and for jukeboxes and for sound systems, and it was an exciting way to learn - to earn a living. And you were also very excited by the music you were finding and loved scouting music. So you decided to start your own record company, which was Island Records. Did you have a creed when you started the company of, like, how you wanted to define yourself and Island?
GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. Let's get back to my interview with Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, which released records by people like Bob Marley and the Wailers, Jimmy Cliff, U2, Roxy Music, Tom Waits, Grace Jones, Steve Winwood, Cat Stevens, the B-52s, Tom Tom Club and many more.
It can be useful to research other genealogy sources to aid your search for passenger arrival records. Naturalization records, for example, particularly after 1906, can contain specific details of a person's legal entry into the U.S. -- the exact date and means (ship name, for example) of arrival. Census records often show year of immigration.
Our office has microfilm of indexes to passenger lists of vessels arriving at the Port of New York for the years 1820-1846 and 1897-1943. The passenger list records were created by the U.S. Customs Service (Record Group 36), and the Immigration and Naturalization Service [INS] (Record Group 85). The passenger lists themselves are available at our office via the online databases listed below.
If you are not planning to visit our facility and conduct your research, you can submit an online request for copies of ship passenger arrival records. If you can provide sufficient information, they will conduct a search of the indexes and provide you with pertinent copies of ship manifest pages.
Researcher Note: The following databases were created using National Archives passenger arrival records and indexes. While they cover essentially the same records, the indexing might have been done differently. If you can't find someone in one database, try the others that cover your time period.
The National Archives offers AAD as a free public resource and it can be accessed from anywhere. A project of the Electronic and Special Media Records Services Division of NARA's Modern Records Program, AAD provides access to over 85 million historic electronic records created by more than 30 agencies of the U.S. Federal Government and from collections of donated historical materials.
Another option is to contact a Family History Center nearest your location. Family History Centers are operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). They have purchased copies of National Archives passenger arrival records for various ports in the U.S. including the Port of New York. Please consult your local telephone directory for the nearest Family History Center or see their web site: _fhc.asp.
Capitol Christian Music GroupCapitol Christian Distribution Capitol CMG Group (Credential Recordings ForeFront Records Motown Gospel Sparrow Records Worship Together) EMI CMG Publishing (SoulStride Records) Hillsong Music Australia sixstepsrecords
The Island Records Office is an office dedicated to preserving documents and records related to Sudrian history, located in Suddery. It is only mentioned in The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways.
There are a number of free websites where you can search for passenger arrival records (manifests). Some are very general and some can be very specific. Here are some that we have found particularly helpful- and they are totally free.
libertyellisfoundation.org An extensive, free listing of manifests for ships that arrived in New York between 1892 and 1924- the years during which Ellis Island was America's primary immigrant processing center and where 12 million immigrants were processed. This manifest archive has been expanded beyond the peak years at Ellis Island to include Port of New York passenger records from 1820 to 1957. This web site was developed and is maintained by the American Family Immigration History Center located on Ellis Island.
The City of Mercer Island provides access to public records under the provisions of the Washington State Public Records Act (RCW 42.56). The City's rules are found in Chapter 2.14 of the Mercer Island City Code, and full details are provided in the Public Records Act Rules of Procedure.
City Attorney's Office9611 SE 36th StreetMercer Island, WA 98040Phone: (206) 275-7651Fax: (206) 275-7663Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Record Series Title(s) and Dates to/from [year records were created] will be found in the associated Records Retention Schedule and will appear in bold, such as: GRS4.2 Construction and Improvement Records."
The PARO Collections Database can be searched for item-level access to vital statistics records, census material, and some of our most popular archival content, including maps, architectural plans, photographs, and other material. Where available, a digital scan of the original can also be accessed through the online database. Some of the major collections currently available online include:
In 1959, Chris Blackwell was a young English businessman working in Jamaica. He fell in love with the local music and culture, and co-founded the Island label to record Ska, Reggae and Jazz artists. In 1962, Island began marketing its releases in Britain, where they attracted a small but loyal following comprised of both West Indian immigrants and white Mods who wanted to hear the latest in black music. Whenever Blackwell signed a performer with mainstream potential, such as teenage ska songstress Millie Small ("My Boy Lollipop") or R&B-influenced British Invasion band The Spencer Davis Group ("Gimme Some Lovin'"), he licensed the act to Fontana Records, a major label that had the marketing muscle to get the records on the charts.
This started to change in 1967, as Rock & Roll began to evolve into Rock. Steve Winwood, lead singer of Spencer Davis Group, left to form a Psychedelic Rock band called Traffic; Island decided to release Traffic's records themselves, so they reaped the rewards when the group became popular with the hippie counterculture. While Island continued with reggae, in the late 60s and early 70s its focus shifted to the new generation of British "underground" artists who played styles such as Progressive Rock, Hard Rock and Folk Rock. This paid off in a big way, as the label assembled an insanely impressive roster of talent, including Free Band, Fairport Convention, Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Mott the Hoople, Nick Drake, Roxy Music, Cat Stevens, John Martyn, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Island's success led to several rivals aiming at the same audience, including indies such as Chrysalis (which started as an Island offshoot) and Charisma, as well as major label imprints like Harvest and Vertigo. In the US, Island's acts were licensed to other companies (usually A&M and Atlantic) until it established an American presence as a Warner Music Group imprint.