Island Records timeline

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This article is part of the Island Records research wiki at
  • 1959 - Island Records founded as Jamaican music label (in Jamaica) by Chris Blackwell and Graeme Goodall
  • 1959 - Laurel Aiken's "Boogie In My Bones" tops Jamaican chart for 11 weeks
  • 1960 - Lance Heywood at the Half Moon Hotel, the first LP on Island, released w/catalogue # CB 22 (22 being Blackwell's age)
  • 8 May 1962 - Island Records Ltd. incorporates in the UK
  • Mar 1964 - Island's first million-seller, the bluebeat track "My Boy Lollipop" (a cover of a 1957 hit by Barbie Gaye), is recorded in London by Millie Small and released in the UK via Fontana under licence due to Blackwell's trepidation about overextending Island to meet the demand for one release. It goes to #2 in both the UK and US
  • 1964 - Blackwell & Guy Stevens launch Sue sublabel to promote US r'n'b in the UK
  • 1965? - Blackwell signs Spencer Davis Group but licenses all material to Fontana
  • Jan 1966 - Spencer Davis Group bumps Beatles from #1 spot on UK chart
  • 28 Jul 1967 - Trojan Records label launched to showcase Duke Reid; most of Island's reggae artists are moved to it as Island moves toward college rock, signing Art and Traffic.
  • 1968 - Lee Gopthal's label B&C (Beat & Commercial) merges with Island.
  • 1968 - Trojan folds after about a dozen releases, but is relaunched the same year by Lee Gopthal.
  • 2 Mar 1970 - Island Records, Inc. incorporates in New York state
  • 1971 - Ariola begins partnership with Island[1]
  • 1972 - Jimmy Cliff leaves Island in frustration at declining support for reggae artists
  • late 1972 - The Wailers are signed to Island; Blackwell helps them record their first album for £4000
  • 10 Jun 1974 - Island Records, Inc. incorporates in California, operating from Warner Bros. Records address
  • 1975 - "No Woman, No Cry" becomes Bob Marley's first UK hit
  • 1979-10-20: "Video Killed The Radio Star" by The Buggles becomes Island's first ever #1 hit in the UK single charts.
  • Mar 1980 - U2 signs to Island
  • 1981-08-01: "Video Killed The Radio Star" by The Buggles becomes the first music video ever played on MTV.
  • 17 Sep 1982 - Island Records, Inc. (New York) incorporates in California
  • 1983 - Blackwell forms Island Alive (later restructured as Island Pictures), a film production and distribution company
  • 1984 - Island buys Stiff Records
  • 1986 - Island sells Stiff Records
  • 1989 - Philips floats 16% of PolyGram on the Amsterdam stock exchange, valuing the whole company at $5.6 billion. PolyGram embarks on a new program of acquisitions, including A&M and Island Records in 1989.
  • Jul 1989 - Island Records and Island Music acquired by PolyGram UK Group for £272 million. From this point on, Island is no longer an indie label.
  • 1993 - Motown is bought by PolyGram
  • 1994 - Def Jam Recordings is bought by PolyGram
  • 1995 - Rodven Records is bought by PolyGram
  • 1996 - After buying 50% of Interscope Records, MCA Music Entertainment Group is renamed to Universal Music Group. MCA Inc. renames to Universal Studios Inc.
  • Nov 1997 - Chris Blackwell resigns as CEO of Island Entertainment.
  • 1998 - Chris Blackwell forms Palm Pictures.
  • 10 Dec 1998 - Universal Music Group's parent company, Seagram, purchases PolyGram and merges it with UMG. UMG announces it will merge Geffen and A&M into Interscope, and it will also merge Island and Mercury into a new company: Island Mercury (aka Island Mercury Group). Initial speculation is that PolyGram's country & "urban" labels like Def Jam (which it owned 60% of) will remain untouched.
  • Dec 1998 or Jan 1999 - In the UK, Island Mercury Group is formed.
  • Mar 1999 - In the US, Russell Simmons sells the remaining 40% of Def Jam to Universal. The Island Def Jam Music Group, consisting of Island Records, Def Jam Recordings and Def Soul, is formed as a division of UMG Recordings, Inc. As of 2002, it has partnerships with American Recordings, Lost Highway Records, Roc-A-Fella Records, Java Records, Murder Inc., Bloodline Records and Roadrunner Records. The company also gains control of the Tuff Gong label and the pop and rock back catalog of Mercury Records and Casablanca Records.
  • Jan 1999 - Universal announces a merger with Island and that Mercury (UK) will market Island's US repertoire
  • 29 Mar 1999 - Island Records Ltd. (UK) changes its name to Universal-Island Records Ltd.
  • Oct 1999 - UMG forms Universal Music Enterprises (UME), an umbrella organization to coordinate the US activities of five companies that market special-market and cross-label releases: Catalog Management, UTV Records, Hip-O Records, Universal Music Special Markets, and Universal Film & Television Music. At some point in 1999, UMG also launches UM3, a catalogue marketing, commercial and consumer marketing and TV merchandising division for outside of the US.
  • 20 Jun 2000 - Seagram, Vivendi and Canal+ fuse to become the world's second-largest media company, Vivendi Universal.
  • 2002 - Universal Music Germany takes over Koch Music and shifts its company headquarters from Hamburg to Berlin.
  • Jan 2003 - Four divisions of Universal Music Germany merge into two: Motor Music and Urban/Def Jam become Motor Urban Def Jam, and Polydor merges with Island Mercury (aka Island Mercury Labelgroup) to form Polydor Island (aka Polydor Island Group).
  • 2004 - Motor Urban Def Jam and Polydor Island merge. Universal Music Germany now has only two divisions: Universal Music Domestic Division and Universal Music International Division.
  • 2005 - Jay-Z becomes President and CEO of Island Def Jam Music Group after it buys out his Roc-A-Fella label

To be determined

  • The 'Island Records' brand is still used by whom, exactly? Who owns the trademarks?
  • Island Records Group is a UK company; how does it fit into the timeline? It apparently replaced(?) Island Mercury Group. Is this correct, and if so, when did it happen? Google references to it seem to begin around 2002.
  • Island-Mercury Labelgroup in Germany seems to have only released material in 2002-2003, but the Island Mercury Group (UK) formed in Dec 1998 or early 1999. When did Island-Mercury Labelgroup form?

Some sources