(Jamaica Observer) – Island Records founder and hotelier Chris Blackwell was inaugurated into the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica’s (PSOJ) Hall of Fame in a glittering ceremony held at the Kingston Hilton Hotel last Monday night which saw many of Jamaica’s leading business personalities in attendance.
For more than 40 years Blackwell has guided and produced some of the best popular music talent both in Jamaica and the wider international scene.
Jimmy Cliff, Millie Small, Bob Marley, Toots & The Maytals and Sly & Robbie are Jamaican artists who gained international fame. Further afield, Robert Palmer, Tom Waits, Roxy Music, U2, Grace Jones and The Cranberries number among many of Island’s roster of stars from an international label that had its beginnings in Jamaica.
What makes Blackwell’s entry into the Hall of Fame all the more noteworthy is that he has not simply stuck to one area of business. For a man who does not play a musical instrument or sing a note, his abilities as a producer are sometimes overlooked.
He was not just a record-label boss but is also a notable hotelier who ventured into Jamaica’s South Beach when no one saw its potential.
Commenting on his lengthy and diverse career, Blackwell once said: “For the first 20 years of my career, I worked 18 hours a day at something I loved, which was the record business.
‘Then I wanted to expand away from it and then entered the film business (The Lunatic, Countryman, Third World Cop, Dancehall Queen, etc).
“In the back of my head I always wanted to develop properties and real estate in Jamaica. So with the money I made, I would always buy a piece of property with the hope of one day developing it sometime in the future. So things didn’t happen all at once.”