Island Records, the iconic music company, whose record releases made global stars of the likes of Bob Marley & The Wailers, U2, Steve Winwood, Robert Palmer, Grace Jones, Angelique Kidjo and Baaba Maal, and launched the careers of British black music acts such as Millie, Aswad, Steel Pulse and Hi-Tension, is to have its last building as an independent company – 22 St Peter's Square in Hammersmith, west London, affixed with a Nubian Jak blue plaque on Saturday
The company operated in the grade II listed building between 1973 and 2005, which included the period after it was bought by the major company PolyGram in 1989, which was subsequently bought by the present owner Universal Music Group.
The London borough of Hammersmith & Fulham is sponsoring the plaque, which will be unveiled on Saturday October 8, 11am-12.30pm. In addition to civic dignitaries, and former Island staff and acts, music fans and history buffs are expected to turn up for the event, which will include a tour of the building.
A number of short speeches will be made by the likes of former Island Records president Darcus Beese, and statements by those with a connection to the building will be read out. The latter will include Island co-founder Chris Blackwell and former Aswad member Brinsley Forde.
Members of Hi-Tension are among some of the musicians expected at the event. Their 1978 Island released eponymous album helped cross over the Brit-funk genre.
"Island Records is arguably the most important label for the promotion of African and Caribbean music worldwide,” says Dr Jak Beula, CEO of the Nubian Jak Community Trust. “So many artists on its roster are household names, and it is an honour to be awarding the label with a historic Nubian Jak blue plaque as part of LBHF black history trail."
“The unveiling of this Nubian Jak plaque has been planned for October 8 as a way of marking African History Month in Hammersmith,” adds historical musicologist Kwaku, whose organisation BBM/BMC (BritishBlackMusic.com/Black Music Congress) is helping with the unveiling event.
“This building represents a lot of British black music history. Before moving to Hammersmith, Island was based in Ladbroke Grove, where some of the Aswad members came from. And before then, they were based in Kilburn and then Neasden both in the London borough of Brent, where Hi-Tension came from.”
Members of the public are expected to turn up at the address. There will be a reception nearby after the unveiling.