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One of the most interesting - and complicated - record labels during the golden age of pop, Island was started in Jamaica in 1959 by Chris Blackwell. It wasn't until 1962 however that a proper record company was set up in London, and it quickly gained a cult following from fans of the ska, bluebeat and reggae music it released, particularly on a range of small subsidiary labels. It was after hit singles for Millie and The Spencer Davis Group, both on Fontana but produced by Island, that the Island label was launched with the signing of John Martyn, and Traffic.
The first of the Island labels saw the launch of a number of successful acts, including Jethro Tull, the aforementioned Traffic, Spooky Tooth (pictured) and Free. At this time Island rapidly became the largest UK progressive rock label with a high proportion of their acts charting.
The short-lived second label (picture courtesy of Raoul Verolleman) was introduced at about the time that Island became intrinsically attached to the growing folk-rock movement by signing Fairport Convention, with their unique vocalist Sandy Denny.
Emerson Lake and Palmer released their first LP on the third label shown here in 1970, but not until King Crimson had made a ground-breaking debut with In The Court Of The Crimson King. Cat Stevens was signed to Island at this time and the progressive jazz group If also released a debut album.
The pink rim label (fourth picture) saw a period of consolidation for Island with Mott The Hoople one of a few new acts to be signed. This was in turn replaced with another label around 1975.
The Island record label continues today.
Major artists - Jethro Tull, Free, ELP, Fairport Convention, U2.