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September 1, 2022 103 mins

Mr. Island, who has a new autobiography, "The Islander: My Life in Music and Beyond."

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Speaker 1 (00:08):
Welcome, Welcome, welcome back to the Bob West That's podcast.
My guest today is truly a llegend. This Blackwellholm Island
Records has a new autobiography, The Islander. Chris. Great to
have you on the podcast. So, first and foremost, where
exactly are you right now? I'm in Jamaica, Yes, but

(00:30):
you own multiple properties in Jamaica, correct, No, just a couple,
two or three different properties. The main one is Golden Eye,
which Ian Fleming owned originally. And what is the status
of Golden Eyed today and how is it different from
when Ian owned it? Well, when Ian owned it too

(00:50):
was just one house. And when he uh pass my
mother looked after the house for a bit, waiting for
his son to come of age and take the ownership.
But sadly his father his son committed suicide and so

(01:13):
the the house just came on the market and my
mother asked me if I would go out and try
and buy it. And I was a little short of
the cash at the moment at the time, but the
person I knew had some cash it was about early
because I just paid him some fat royalties. So I

(01:35):
told him that he should go and see it because
it's a great property and he should have a look
and see if he liked it. And he went, but
he said it wasn't his kind of thing. He was
more street as it were, so he passed on it,
and so I eventually voted. Now you also got involved

(01:57):
in real estate in Miami South? How did that come
to pass? That came to pass because I flew down
to Miami to watch a new singer that had come
from Detroit and she was going to do a I

(02:20):
have I have a sort of video done of her,
and so I went down and I flew into Miami
and then I went and stayed at the Fronto Lu Hotel.
But I don't really like big hotel that. I didn't
like it at all. So I said, I want to
get out of here, and I rented a car and

(02:43):
drove south. And when I drove south, but by bit
it became more and more funky and more and more
broken up and everything, and I couldn't believe it. Here's
this incredible beach, incredible location, and everything was derelict, and
I just couldn't believe it. So I wandered around and

(03:06):
and saw a couple of different places that I thought
i'd love to buy that, and so that's basically what
I did. I bought a place called the Marlin. And
then in um in Miami at that time was somebody
called Barbara Julniki who was very super talented designer, creative lady,

(03:31):
and she was in Miami and I asked her if
if she could help me and design a little um
you know, a little sort of hotel, and and she did,
and it was adorable. It really looked just fantastic, and
very quickly it started to get people coming to it

(03:54):
a lot. And then I put a studio in it,
and and off we were really great. So what drove
people to the hotel? Did you saved all your friends?
Did you put the word out or just people drove
by into how great it was. I think I think
it's sort of a bit of both. You know, I

(04:17):
spoke about a lot about it, tell people about it,
because it was so extraordinary that, you know, you couldn't
get a cab to take take take you out there.
It's very very difficult. It was at a time. It
was a time soon after remember when Castro sent a
whole lot of um cumans to to Florida or something,

(04:41):
and there was a country. Remember what happened, but I
know it was a kind of chaos and so no,
but nobody really wanted to go to South Beach, Absolutely
not at that time. So you know, this has become
a thing of having studios in a hotel. Is that
actually marketing? Or does that really work? Having a studio

(05:02):
in a hotel? Do you know? It works? It works
because you know you've got you can you know in
the studio, you can get stressed out in the studio
and you really want to sort of take a break
and just go and have a nap for a bit,
and so in that regard it really works. Now you

(05:25):
ultimately own multiple properties in South Beach. I ended up
earning about eight, eight or nine of them, eight or nine,
but ultimately you sold them all. That was a motivation
to sell them because they had a law in Miami
at that time that if there was if there was
any stores coming off the eastern coast of Africa, that

(05:51):
one should already start and canceled bookings and cancel all
kinds of things because that could turn into a huge
which hurricane and cause chaos. So uh, that just didn't
make any sense to me. I mean, you know, hurricanes
don't come every week, they don't even come every month.

(06:13):
They come now and again. But what would happen is
that we would still have to do that. We'd have
to let all the staff go, we'd have to cancel
the bookings, we have to close the hotel. And I
thought that just makes no sense at us. So I left.
And did you get out at the right time financially? Um?

(06:33):
I say, okay, okay. It wasn't that I was trying
to make a bag of money on it. I was
just wanting to get out of it at that time.
And it was somebody else who was very interested in
the latest hotel I did. They were called the Tides,
and that was the one which really attracted a buyer.

(06:58):
And and that's what that's what happened. So he bought
the Tides and or they on the hotels. And when
you own those hotels and presently your own golden eye,
how hands on or you were you mostly in the
design construction phase or when it comes to actually running
the hotel, where you just pass that off to someone else.

(07:21):
The design, design construction phase really is where I spent
a lot of time because it was great in Jamaica.
It was great land that was sort of had not
been used, and it was a great It was a
great opportunity to build something on that land because it

(07:43):
was right on the water and it had a kind
of lagoon in the middle of it, and everything was
really beautiful. So at this point in time, is most
of your money tied up in Golden Eye or you
pretty diversified, because certainly in your book you talk about financially, uh,
periods of great success and then other periods were scratching part. Yes, definitely.

(08:10):
Throughout my life has been up and down all the time.
Just similarly, you know, it has been nothing slow and
steady and solid. It's been up and downe And so
at this late date, how are you doing financially? Um,
not too bad considering you know what's going on in

(08:31):
the world right now. Not too bad. People really like
five really like a girl and I and I didn't
mention Fireflyer. Is that place really close to a Golden
I called five Flyer where nol Coward lived. And that's
a beautiful property, which is um, you know, adjacent to

(08:53):
where we are, and it's about a thousand on feet
up and it's that's really beautiful. But most of the
time right now, I'm spending it tonight. So I grew
up on the East Coast, and I remember in the
sixties Jamaica was a place that people went on a
holiday and they bought property there, and it was all

(09:16):
beach and vacation orient And then of course in the seventies,
uh to a great degree, as a result of your work,
a completely different picture of Jamaica comes across. What is
Jamaica like today? There's Kingston, but there's a beach. Give
us a feel for the country. Well, I think Jamaica

(09:37):
is grace at the moment. I think Jamaica has good
management now. Really in general, I think it's doing really,
really quite well. And it's it doesn't sort of markets
a huge amount, but it's a it's definitely markets. The

(09:59):
the hotels are available, and there are a lot of
hotels in Jamaica in different locations. There's so many different
parts of Jamaica which are uniquely different. You feel like
you're in a another island. Um because you know, some
some of the some of the land in Jamaica goes

(10:19):
up to seven thousand feet and some m hm. So
it's it's very very you know. And then you go
into the mountains, you can stop by where the people
are growing coffee, you know, and get buy some coffee
from them, and you know, it's it's a it's a
great great countries. It's full of life. Okay, to what

(10:44):
degree do the city and the locals interact with the
beaches and the tourist areas, um, well, some I mean
some people, some people love to go to the beach,
go to swim, and some of them, some of them
really don't really care too much about it. They prefer

(11:06):
to go in the hills, or in the or in
the pastures or you know the country part in internal.
So Jamaica just has so much variety literally that you know,
you can you can spend a day driving across Jamaica

(11:26):
and you see so many different different things different firstly,
you know, different people, different different sort of towns and cities. Everything.
It's it's it's very different, and it's very it's very
I didn't know. It's kind of fun. You know, the

(11:50):
people have fun. The people. The people have a strong
kind of character, but strong personality, and there's you feel
that energy from the people. I certainly do, and I
think I think most people do who come and visit. Okay,
certainly a couple of decades ago, Jamaica had a reputation

(12:10):
as being dangerous. Is it dangerous today or only dangerous
in certain areas? Well that in that period, which was
the seventies the late seventies, there was a lot of
political problems, you know, and so anti American or pro
American or pro Castrow, you know, there was a lot

(12:33):
of that going on at that time, and that's split
the country a little bit, and so that was not
a good time. And there was there was a lot
of problems then. But it's not like that now. It's
not like that now. It's much more settled. Okay, So
you're growing up in Jamaica. Are you living the life

(12:55):
of a coddled rich kid? Are you integrating with the locals?
What was your life like? Well, I grew up, I
was you know, I was born in London and I
arrived in Jamaica when I was about six months old
and then came by sea, and I grew up in
great luxury. Really the house that I grew up in

(13:20):
was you know, a big house and lots of stuff
and it was, you know, very luxurious in a way.
But the problem was that I was sick all the time.
I had very bad asthma, and so really I didn't
spend any time with other children, or didn't go to

(13:40):
any parties, or didn't go to anything much. Pretty much
was just stayed in in in one place. So at
what age did you end up going to school in
the UK and what's that experience like. Well, I was
sent to education in England mainly because my father's mother,

(14:06):
I was a Catholic, and she insisted that my father
have me educated as a Catholic. So I went to
a Catholic school which was miserable. It was in London,
just outside London, between London and with Windsor near a river,

(14:29):
so the weather was just about the worst weather for
somebody who had asked me the last thing you need
to have is a damn wet ah, you know environment.
And I was very sick there. And also I didn't
get on with them there and they didn't get on
with me. Didn't work at all. Well, I was only

(14:49):
there really for one one and a half terms. I
got fired because I asked if my dog go to
heaven and they said, of course, do come here to
have and they took me just to leave school and
you went back to Jamaica. Did you go back to school?
We're done with school. I went back to Jamaica and

(15:10):
I was at school for one term at the school
in Jamaica. Then I was sent back to England and
on this occasion it was two Broadstairs in Kent, which
is a much more healthy environment right on the sea,
and that was much better. I enjoyed that. I enjoyed
that that period very much, of course, at Peter's Court

(15:32):
and in broad Stairs, Kent. And then from that I
was able to get into posh school called Harrow, and
again got into that school only because my family, um
Blackwell family started acrossing Blackwell, which was a big sort

(15:54):
of food firm back in my day, and and there
are offices were very close to Harrow, so the you
know that that family were embedded in in Harrow school
as it were. So I went to Harrow and I

(16:14):
didn't really do too well there. Um, I didn't really
and I didn't really do too there at all. In fact,
I was sort of not exactly fired, but it was
suggested that I might be happier elsewhere. Okay, so you're
going to school, what kind of kid you are? Are you?

(16:37):
Are you a ring leader, you're a loner? Your sports person?
What we like? Uh? Probably none of those that are
not not? Not Really, I wasn't. I wasn't a big troublemaker.
I didn't think I was. I got into trouble there

(16:58):
because I used to go down and by liquor and
cigarettes and self to the other kids, which I never
touched liquor was cigarettes personally, but I used to do that,
and I I got caught on that, and it was
suggested that I might be happier elsewhere if I moved

(17:20):
from there. So, unless they were, I was sixteen, I think.
And did you have any more schooling after that? Y?
M hm. And you come from a prestigious, wealthy family.
What do they think about their son who is not
really achieving in school and doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Well,

(17:40):
my mother was always hoping. She was very good. She
was always hoping that then you know, improve of it,
and she was really helpful. My father wasn't so on
top of it, as it were. He was somewhat of
a wild man, and he was he was great, but
he was and term he wasn't sort of chasing me

(18:02):
up or giving me a hard time or anything. So
my mom was the one who was sort of in charge.
So you come back to Jamaica, you're not going to school,
what do you do? Trying to find something to do
different things. One of the things was I was trying

(18:23):
to bring in some scooters. I bought some scooters in
England to sell in Jamaica. And I did that for
a little bit, and then I did some I got
a job working in real estate, so I worked in
real estate for a little bit. M hm. And what

(18:47):
else did I do? Just just the kind of things
you'd expect. It's like an opportunity to do for something
and you kind of like it. You just kind of
join it and get involved in it, I guess. And
m h. That's that's really what what I was, what
I was doing, and the thing which really pulled me in,

(19:08):
of course, it was music because at Harrow. When I
was at Harrow, I made friends with somebody who really
had a great music collection. He had the music right
from the sort of earliest period, New Orleans and music.

(19:29):
And for a long time I was addicted to two
music from New Orleans and and and jazz for sure.
I just love I just love that. And so when
I was in Jamaica this time, later on, I started
to go to see shows and things. And then, you know,

(19:51):
one day, as said to I think I'd probably had
a couple of drinks, it said to the band after
they had finished playing. I said, oh, well, I think
you guys were great. I'd love to record you guys,
you know, And I didn't know how to record anybody.
I didn't know anything about it. I just liked their
music at all. So a couple of days later, you know,

(20:14):
a couple of them passed by and said, well, anything
happening about this recording? And I said, oh, I'm sorry, yeah,
well not definitely, definitely going to do it. Do it tomorrow.
So that's what I did, and I rented the car
the next day, van Volkswagen Van. And at that time

(20:35):
I was teaching water skiing. That was my job that
I'd made god for myself as a water ski instructor
at the Halfmoon Hotel, and which is where the band
was playing. So when I drove into town, I went
to the studio. I knew the person who owned the studio,

(20:57):
and we went in and then the band played the
first tune and then they all looked up at me,
and I didn't know what to look. I didn't know
what to do. I was and I just had no
idea what to do. I couldn't believe that I was
actually just sitting there and hearing this music they made.

(21:17):
And so the leader of the band was blind, and
he asked me, he said that would you like us
to do it again? And then said yeah, okay, and
he started playing again. And then when he started playing again,
I knew that that's what I wanted to do the

(21:40):
rest of man, Okay, this entrepreneurial spirit, where did it
come from? I don't know. I really didn't know. I
don't know. Particularly I my mother's family. They were in

(22:03):
the you know, bananas and coconuts, the steets and and
and the wrong business too. In fact, I was supposed
to inherit the wrong business. Um, but my two uncles
quarreled and tell apart, and and so the rom got

(22:26):
sold to someone else, and um, I found myself with
you know, that was not going to be in the
roun business. So that I remember when it happened, I
was kind of I wasn't hugely upset because I was
already embedded in music. You know, and hanging around with

(22:50):
musicians and and you know, and working with people and
coming trying to come up with ideas and putting together
bands and things like that. Did you ever inherit any
money from either side of your family? But by time
it came, by time they died, was it all gone?
H By the time they died, it was, yes, it

(23:18):
was pretty much gone. Pretty much gone. Um, pretty much gone.
My my my mother was was was fine, you know,
she had a nice home Jamaica, and and it was
but but the Linda family which was the name of

(23:39):
the family, which were the run people, it sort of
collapsed and in that and that at that time. And
so did I say, I was just from from from
then on? I mean I was just in vote in music,

(24:00):
you know, I was an addict. So how much did
it cost to make that record? And how successful was it?
And how did you sell it? The first record? Yeah,
the one with the blind pianists? Well, uh, how much
does it costs? Oh, less than a thousand dollars lessen yeah,

(24:24):
lessen five? Everything. It wasn't It wasn't most The main
expense was flying up to New York too to get
the album made and get it mastered, made, and then
broke back to Jamaica. And then I get got the
manufactured in Jamaica and the pressing plant and so the

(24:47):
records at the hotel and did you make your money back?
Was it profitable or no? Not not profitable. That's I
knew that's what I wanted to do. You know, there
was no doubt that that's what I wanted to do
in my life. It was for sure. What was the

(25:10):
next step? Then, Well, the next step was that I'd
go and go too shows. When there were shows that
would have happen in cinemas. Cinemas would would you know,
run a kind of a show where somebody would come
out and lead the show, and and they would have

(25:33):
booked three or four different bands or different individual singers
or whatever for the show. And so I went to
one of those and there was this guy saying and
I thought, my god, this guy has got a really
good voice. His voice is very much like Brook Benton.
At that time, Brook Benton was one of my very

(25:54):
favorite artists. And I listened to it and I really
liked it. And and when the show was over, I
went backstage and I went to see him and they said, oh,
I'd like, I'd like to record you know, I think
you sound really good. You sound like And there was
another singer around just who came up and said, well

(26:17):
what about me? And then another person came around and
said what about and and so I ended up recording
those three guys. And the first guy was a guy
called Laura Ankin, and I put I put his art

(26:38):
was called Boogie in My Bones, and it went to
number one in Jamaica. And then I put out the
other guy's record and it went to number one a
couple of weeks after that, and then released the other
record and that went to number one. And the reason

(27:02):
these records all went to number one is not because
they were masterpieces or anything. It was more because Jamaicans
were hearing Jamaican's singing um rather than singing Calypso's or um.
You know, cultural music. They were they were they were

(27:24):
they were sort of hearing music as if it might
have been coming from America a bit something like that.
So that's really how it started and continued to grow.
I mean, all the records I put out really did well.

(27:48):
I mean it was amazing. Uh And as I say,
but it's just because of the reason I just gave
you because it was, um, Jamaican's listen to Jamaican's there.
And then when things started to expand was that when
England started to want the records from Jamaican. So I

(28:12):
used to shipp them to a guy who had the
jazz label in England who he released them for me
and they sold in England. So then as we were
now in nineteen sixty one, um in nineteen six two

(28:33):
is when Jamaica became independent, and in view of my complexion,
I thought, well, maybe that was the time to go
to so so UM, I went to England and I
spoke to all the other DJs and sound system guys
and producers and everybody and said, you know, I'm going

(28:53):
to England. I'm going to you know, make these This
music happened in England, and um, all the people kind
of supported me in Jamaica, which was which was great.
Unless they supported me, I mean, they'd send their recordings
for me and I put them out and I had
the right. The best time in England was just driving

(29:19):
around the periphery of London in the areas where that
Jamaicans lived and visiting different little record shops here and
there and I was loving every minute of it. I
had just a little Mini Cooper and I was whipping around,
you know, and it was just that it was just
fantastic because it was something that I loved doing, and

(29:42):
here it was. It was coming alive and people were,
you know, buying them. The worst damn thing happened was
when one large stock called Broadmeats it was called at
that time. They had a berry and somebody some few

(30:04):
guys that come in and robbed the the there's the
store and it'd taken all the records out of the
store except Island. I mean, that was that was That
was a low. I learned the level I thought making accompany.

(30:24):
They would buy all the other records, but don't buy
one of mine. They stayed in there, but that that
I'll never forget that one. I couldn't believe it. And
it is this company Island self supporting, or you're living
on money from your parents, or you just scratching by,
you've got enough money in your pocket to go spend

(30:46):
a little. Now, I was just on my own, on
my own. I didn't take I wask anny money from
my parents. But but my mom did, did you know,
pay for me too to have an apartment. So I had,

(31:10):
I had a base in England, but other than that,
I didn't. Okay, So how did you find really small?
As I was saying, lots of different people were producing records.
There was Cox, you know, there was Duke re Reed.
They were about ten different people who were making records

(31:35):
in Jamaica. About about five of them were Chinese and
five of them were Jamaica and another couple. One was
an Australian guy and the other was me, And that
was pretty much who released the records in the market
in Jamaica. So when I had gone to England, they

(31:56):
would send me records in England to release. Yeah, And
one of the records that was sent to me was
called wheel Meat and it was a song by Roy
and Milly. It was done by Coxon and it started
out with the guy singing the first verse and then

(32:20):
the guy saying the second verse, and then the girl
saying the third verse, and that was Milly. And it
was a very high pitch voice, but it was it
was it was great. I mean, you you either loved
it or you hated it because it was a sort

(32:41):
of high pitch voice. But you know, there was something
about it, which was really fun. And so I thought, well,
I've got to try and find it, got to try
and find a record form, you know, another record, and
h I found what I used to do when I

(33:04):
was flashing a bit back to Jamaica now, But when
I was in Jamaica and would go to New York.
I go to New York and I'd go to this
there are a lot of record stores on the sixth
Avenue in New York, and I'd go and buy forty
five and I'd bring them back and I would sell

(33:26):
them to the sound system because the sound system guys,
that was the music business in Jamaica. That was the
whole life of it. You know. It was really exciting
because these guys created these huge speakers, massive speakers, and

(33:47):
you could hear the music from to three miles away,
you know, blasting it was and it was incredible. It
was really a trip and that I'd go to all
those events, you know, and I was pretty much the
only person with my complexion there, but everybody by then
it's kind of got used to me and forgured that,

(34:08):
you know, you know, I was okay as well. And
so coxin Um the record that he sent me will meet,
and I decided to bring it to England because she
had such a unique voice. I wrote to her mother

(34:32):
and asked if she would send her to England and
and and she did and what when she came to England,
I had already brought also a guitarist Jamaican guitarists called
Ernest Wrangling to England try and get Ronnie Scott's club.

(34:54):
Um and he was, you know, really excellent musician, still
is he still around? And with Milly, I was really
looking for a song. So I met with with the
Ernest Rangelan and with Milly and a couple of other
people and played through some of the songs that I

(35:17):
used to buy, records that I used to buy to
sell to the sound system guys when I was in Jamaica.
So some of those records I kept, you know, I
just had on on tape just because I liked them.
I wasn't manufacturing any of them, but I just liked them.
So when I was having this meeting with Ernest Rangeland

(35:41):
and Milly in the room and somebody else, we were
going through these tapes and one of them came up
and it was called My Boy Lollipop. And I thought, wow,
the sounds great. The sounds just right for Milly, and
Ernest rang and said, he ever, does that sounds good?

(36:02):
So we decided that we were recorded. UM. My plan
was initially to produce the record um, and I didn't
produce it in the studio because in those days you
couldn't go in the studio unless all the musicians could

(36:25):
read music. So back in the day, you know, I
couldn't read music. Ernest wrangling. Fortunately the guitarists could read music,
so he he sort of gave the the directions to
the English musicians who are playing. So when I recorded

(36:48):
it that the first sort of rough recording, I thought, what,
this sounds great, and so the only thing is that
I think it's a bit long. They said, well, what
do you mean a bit long? It's only you know,
two minutes and fifty seconds or something. I said, now
that's too long. So people said, well, um, why it's

(37:09):
too nice. I just I just think it's too long.
I really like it to be much shorter. So we
recorded it much shorter and it was one minutes and
fifty eight seconds. And it's definitely the smartest thing that
I've done so far, because you know, Milly's voice is

(37:33):
a high pitched voice, and high pitched voices tremendous if
it's not going on for too long. But if it's
going on for too long, you don't really want to
hear it again. If it's if it's very short, you
want to hear it every now and again all the time.
And really that's what happened the record. I knew the
record when it was finished. I knew that it was

(37:56):
going to be a huge hit, and they also knew
that it couldn't go on Island Records because Island Records
was a tiny little company. And I had learned a
lot when I used to go up to New York
to all the independent labels, and you know, one one
year you come and they had had a huge year.
In the next year you come and then the record

(38:19):
would come out and they were out of business. Because
you know, the people who would buy the records and
the record stores would only really buy the they'd buy
if it was a hit, you know. So if if
something came out and it didn't really it didn't really
it wasn't really an immediate hits as far as they

(38:39):
were concerned, they wouldn't really do anything much for it,
and and then the company would find themselves out of business.
So I licensed I licensed it Phillips. Phillips at that
time owned what is now PolyGram, what is now Universal whatever.

(39:01):
So you first and foremost, let's talk about the record.
The record had an incredible zinc. Yes. Was it something
that just was magic in the studio or was it
cup multiple times? How did you get that? I mean
the record just jumped out of the radio. It was
done two times. We did one take and then we
did another take and that and that was it. It

(39:24):
just it just I guess some luck. We all need
some luck. It just clicked, you know, the band clicked,
which was like a miracle because you know, uh, the
you know, they didn't know they never played anything like
that before music before, so but it just happened and

(39:50):
and uh m hm, it was it. Well, it's something
I can't they ever forget because you know, when I
just took it out and played it, it was it
was something that if you played it, people would say,
I've got to take that with me. I mean they

(40:10):
had to take that with me. It was that which
was that kind of level. But it's sold seven thousand records.
It was number two to the Beatles. Can you imagine? Well,
I just remember the record. My mother had to buy it.
We had it in the house just because it was
so amazing. But you said you knew it as soon

(40:33):
as you heard it. There are certain transcending songs I
have to ask in your career generally speaking, did you
know that level of hit or was that rare and
you didn't really know? Well, I know that level of
what I think is great, which made me right and
maybe wrong, you know, so I don't. I don't. I

(40:59):
wouldn't say that if it's if it's something that I feel, Wow,
this is just you know, well, that's what happens. And
if when you're recording, if you if you were recording
and it is something that just has worked. You know,
the rhythm sections working, the vocal is working, the balance
is working, everything is working. It's fantastic when that happens.

(41:22):
You know, it's just it's just if you're Flori. You
know what are a couple other records you got that
same feeling from, Oh Gosh, Keep on Running. Keep on
Running was the first record that I did with the

(41:44):
Spencer Davis Group, which was Steve Winwood and and that
that record. The song was written by a Jamaican guy,
The same Jamaican I was telling you about a little earlier.
Was the first guy I heard singing like Bendon. I

(42:06):
brought him over to England to help me deliver the
records to the record store. And and he wrote that song.
And see Win would sing that song and that southing
and any others you can remember that had that magical feeling.
Definitely definitely them been song. But I can't remember right now.

(42:28):
Let's go reverse. Are there a couple you got that
feeling and they stiffed? Uh? I don't remember that. Maybe
that may well be possible because I don't want to
remember it. Okay, So let's set the stage. Needless to say,

(42:53):
the Beatles break in UK and uh sixty two. They
don't break in America until sixty four. You're a guy
who's tied into the Jamaican sound. Uh, Millie Small's record
is sort of a SKA record. What was it like
in England? Right there? Well, when the Beatles exploded, that

(43:16):
was it? I mean, I mean the Beatles weren't really
pretty incredible? What what what they produced? What they did
really incredible and and that that was what that drove
the whole British music industry, whereas before, you know, it

(43:36):
was all about America. Really, um, England didn't really have
too much happening that I can remember, which sort of
reached people, you know, playing music, listening to music, not
not like America because that you know, all that that
blues music came from American, out from America, and you know,

(44:00):
whether it's Chicago, New Orleans or in Atlanta whatever, m
hm um. The the music was coming out of America
until the Beatles, the blast and then you know, and
then sort of ruled ruled everything for a good few years.

(44:24):
And so do you remember when you first heard the
Beatles were exposed to the Beatles? Yes, and I remember
liking it, definitely like it. Absolutely. There wasn't anything I
didn't like about them. But I wasn't a Beatles fan.

(44:45):
I was more Rolling Stones fan. Okay, so you were
more of a blues based fair. So you tour the
world with Millie Small. You have this ultimate success, but
you also have an insight that this is really not
you want to proceed you mean with Millie Oh, I
mean in business you were basically sort of like the

(45:07):
movie The Idol maker a little bit more. You created
this thing. It was incredible. There's a lot of effort.
It was singles based on what it's all said and done.
According to your book this year, this is not a
direction I want to go in a different direction. Well, yes,
because because uh, you know, the Beatles had driven something
and there were a lot of There are a lot

(45:28):
of bands which evolved, a lot of them whether they
come from Liverpool or London or over and and a
lot of them. Um also went to Um. I'm trying
to remember that the city in Germany where did they comberg? Yeah,
so I went. I went to Hamburg and I saw

(45:51):
a band there and I love that band. Um. I
brought them back there. They evolved into to the form
names and trying to remember them now that that that
their name got changed, and then every time the name
got changed, the name was worth Remember we were trying.

(46:12):
I remember being really frustrated with it. We couldn't get
get get it, get it right. Okay, So you make
the record and nothing happened. It's a little bit, it's
a little bit what what was what was really happening?
After Milly was initially the Spencer Davis Group, which evolved

(46:35):
into Traffic, Okay, a little bit slower. All of a sudden,
the Beatles are gigantic in America. It's the British invasion,
all these bands from Liverpool, etcetera. Are you trying to
find some of those bands? Are you saying I'm going
in the other direction? How do you view that you're
going to compete? Well, in that early stage, I was

(46:59):
still they pretty much focused on the Jamaican music coming
from Jamaica, so that was my main main thing. So
I was doing some other recordings, but the Jamaican one
was the one which was sort of steady, which you know,
everybody in the company pretty much knew what they were

(47:21):
doing and what we were after and how we were
trying to reach different markets, etcetera. But the I'm trying
I'm trying to think, I mean the Spencer Davis group,
which which evolved into Traffic. That that was a major

(47:42):
thing for me because when would you know, as you know,
it's a brilliant, brilliant, brilliant musician, and you know, when
when I had first seen him play, I couldn't I
couldn't believe that he was, you know, playing keyboards and

(48:05):
singing at the same time and then you know he's
playing guitar and then you know it was It was incredible.
So Traffic Traffic was sort of absolutely the main strong
band in that period in time. And then once that
was happening, then people start to come come towards you

(48:28):
a bit, you know, and they would maybe try to
get on that label because Steve when was on that
Lebel you know what I mean. So I think that
that that helped attract different talents to come and want
to work and work with that. So how did you
discover the Spencer David's group and was no one else interested?

(48:51):
How did you prevent someone else signing them out from
underneath you? Somebody rang me and tell me, you know,
you should come up to birming and the band's in Birmium.
I said, well, well, as it happens, I have to
come up next Sunday because I have to go with
Milly because she's doing a TV show. So I said,
I'll come up and then after the TV show meet

(49:16):
you downstairs and then we'll go and drive around and listen.
So that's that's what happened. I went there, I met
the guy, the guys whose name I should absolutely be
able to tell you, but I can't remember his name.
And he he took me to see one band. I

(49:37):
didn't really like the band too much because they had
a kind of uniform one and I hated kind of
uniform kind of things. So I would I'd like. I
like the funkyness, you know. That's why I like the
zones of Little More, you know, funking and everything. So
anyhow I went. I went to that first and really

(49:59):
like and then the guy said, well, I'll take you
to another place. I don't know if you like it
or not, but there's that. It's a band. It's just
like three three four band, but you can come and
see them, so is it okay? So I drove around
with him, and Milly was with me and the car
too because we just come from the TV show. And

(50:22):
we went there, started walking up some stairs and you
could hear somebody's singing with a great voice. I was
walking up the next row of stairs, and I could
hear the singing more more clearly in the music. More
clearly in the music was something really great, and the

(50:42):
singing was sounding really great. It sounded like I've always
used the example like Ray Charles on Helium, because you
know it was like Gray Charles sort of way of singing,
but the picture of his voice was different. And then
finally when I got upstairs into the room, there was

(51:05):
this kid who was sixteen I think he was. He
might have been seventeen. I think he was sixteen singing
by I mean whaling, really singing, playing the keyboards, playing organ,
playing piano, playing guitar, everything, And I couldn't I just

(51:26):
couldn't believe it. Now, in those days, those days, now
we're talking about ninety three or maybe sixty four. Those days,
the the record companies in England were E. M. I, Decker, Phillips,
and a pie Em. I was the biggest, Decker was

(51:47):
the second biggest, Phillips the third, pie the fourth, and
that was pretty much it. And but none of the
heads of the companies would go out go out to
listen to bands. I mean they wouldn't. People wouldn't leave
their office to go and see a band. None of

(52:09):
those people, I mean, any of those people could have
signs to Swinsondavor School Win one if they had gone
out and no, nobody, nobody could have denied signing him
if they hadn't, you know, had they not seen him so, um,

(52:32):
what happened was that I said to the guys, I'd
love to record you guys. They say, I'd love to
record you guys, dinog and they said, well when I
couldn't record, I said, I don't know, four or five days.
That's incredible because again, and those days you couldn't get

(52:53):
studio organized. You know, it wasn't you know, there was
nobody out there finding or follow growing up or catching
or promoting or pushing you know, somebody like like the
Spencer Davis group that by Steve Winwood that time. It
was just incredible. So that's what happened. So a few

(53:16):
weeks later I went to the studio and um, I
did this one song with that written by that same thing.
I told you the first guy when I was in
the and the shows in Jamaica back in the day,
his name was Wilfrid Edwards called him Jackie Edwards. Wilfrid

(53:37):
was just and so their first set was keep on
Running and it was written by Will for whatever the
Jackie Wilfrid. Now, when you would make a deal with
the band, you know, certainly evolved people would make these deals.
In California, we have the seven year rule. But not

(53:58):
in other countries. Would you sign them for a single?
Would you tie them up at a low royalty rate?
What was the business side like you signed them for?
I didn't know, like two or three albums something like that.
I can't remember now because that all changed as as
everything got big up and got got wider and got more,

(54:23):
you know, more most powerful. In general, it's it changed
a bit, It all changed, keep on running, certainly legendary track,
but when it comes to traffic. The two iconic songs
are I'm a Man and give Me Some Loving? I mean,
give Me Some Loving. Sounds as fresh today as it
did yesterday. Can you tell us a story on that?

(54:46):
I can't remember who wrote the song, but I do
remember recording it, and I do remember thinking it's huge.
And which one was that? Give Me something? Give Me
some Loving? And I'm a Man. Yeah, I'm a man.
Who wrote I'm a Man? I have to look it up.
I can't remember. I'm a Man was written by uh

(55:11):
Winwood and Jimmy Miller. Okay, which which wind with Steve
Winwood or muf WinWin Yeah, Steve Winwood, Steve Winwood. Oh
that's right, Well, Jimmy Miller was somebody I found in
in New York and he was he was a producer
in New York, and I brought him over to England

(55:32):
and and he he did great work in England, firstly
with Traffic and then with the Running Stones. Okay, so
what was his magic? You know? Also he died way
before his time, but the records, forget the ones with Traffic,
the ones he cut in that middle period with Stones

(55:52):
were just iconic. What did he bring to the studio?
He was very talented. It was very talented. He had
one problem, you know, which is one of those problems
which damaged so many people in music and things. But
he had a great taste in music and a great

(56:14):
energy and an ability to sort of just be a
leader as it were. You know, he'd be really like
sort of leading the leading the song as if he's
as if as if he was a conductor kind of thing.
And okay, you know that Steve is bigger than the

(56:36):
rest of the group. How does it evolve in the Traffic?
Because he Steve wanted to I didn't want to really
continue working exactly with the uh Spencer David's group. Um,
and I think he was more into well, I don't

(56:59):
think I know he was more interested in working with
Dave Mason, Jim Capoldi and Chris Wood, who are pals
of his, who you know, he just really got on
well with, whereas before, remember he was much younger than
and the others. He was very young, so he was
sort of he was wanting to sort of make a jump.

(57:23):
I think it was sort of jumping up to a
another level. I would say, Okay, So ultimately Traffic makes
two albums, there's turmoil, Dave Mason is in the group,
not in the group. First record as iconic songs, generally
they're covered, they're not really hits for Traffic at that time.

(57:44):
Second album unbelievable. Then the band says it's going to
break up. So do you remember whin Would ultimately going
to play with Blind Faith and your part in that, Yes, yes,
I remember that. I'll tell you what I tell you.
My reading of what happened is Chris Would, who everybody

(58:05):
loved he was at sax Player, but he really was
kind of I could get very out of it, and
I think probably what really happened one day it was
just too much and he didn't never turned out for

(58:27):
the show in New York Bill Graham put it on.
I can't remember the place I should remember when would
barely even played himself on it. He was so angry
and it seemed that, you know, there their relationship or
music relationship I think, drifted away a lot. And also

(58:54):
I didn't know what else it might have been. That's
the only thing I can think of, because Jim Capoli
was very important in Traffic because he wrote, he wrote ms,
the lyrics and and it was just Woody, you know, Chris,
Chris wood was it was was a bit was a
bit faking, you know. So you had windward side, you know,

(59:18):
you have to give permission for him to be in
Blind Faith? What did you think then? And did you
get a piece? How did you get compensated? Well? Blind
Faith was a joint venture with Stigwood. That's that's that's
that's how that happened. Um, because the it was Eric
and Ginger. Yeah, not to be difficult, Okay. So you

(59:45):
have this huge success with Traffic islands on the map.
What comes over the transom next? Well, Free, I would say,
is one of them. You know the band folk called Free?
Of course I do. And I know Paul Rodgers who
can still saying like he used to. So you hear Paul.
You know, how did you find Paul Rogers? Somebody told

(01:00:08):
me one day he said, you know there's a band.
There's a band playing at the at the Wardo and so,
and he said that they're really young band. He said,
but you should go see them. They're really good. So
I went to see them, and I couldn't believe it.
They were. They were very young. Was one of them

(01:00:28):
was tour and the rest of them were about, you know,
we're tiny, and they were very strong. The band was
very strong. And I went backstage after they finished and
I said, listen to you. Guys are really great. I
really think you're great. I'd love you to come and
come to my office tomorrow and let's meet and see

(01:00:51):
if we can work out something. So they said okay.
So the next morning I went there early and there
was a guy who was working with me, a brilliant,
brilliant guy called Guy Stevens. Was a real music fanatic,
American black music particular, but really talented really in many

(01:01:13):
ways as a writer, as a designer, everything, and he
was like a sort of my number number two guys
who you know, would help me. And I saw him
in the morning. And what I forgot, I told you
was that when I saw them the night before, I said,
I said, I said to them, and I said, the

(01:01:33):
only thing that I don't really like is that I
don't really not too keen on the name free. So
and then I left that night. But the next next
morning I met guys Stevens and I said, listen, I'm
meeting these kids. They're incredible. I heard them played last night.
They were really incredible. I said, but I don't really

(01:01:53):
like the name free. Because you put free, people are
going to think it's a free freaking show, and so
they're coming and I don't really like that name. So
he said, well, I've got a name. I got a
going the name for you. So it's okay. Well that's great.
So then the band come in a little later, four
of them, led by Andy Fraser, who's just fifteen. He's

(01:02:17):
the leader of the band. And they come in. We
sit down and chatting a bit, and and then we
we guy Guy Stevens comes in the office to say hello,
and I say, this is a guy Sevens says hello,
said and I just wanted him to come up with

(01:02:41):
to to recommend another name because I don't. I'm not
really keen on the name free because people will think
it's a free show or something and want to come in.
And so they laughed at such a guy, stevemens So
then so the guys Semens was there and and Andy

(01:03:02):
Phrases looks at guys sevens and says, so, what name
is that you have planned for us? And guys Stephen
said the heavy metal kids. So Andy Fraser looks back
at me and he says, if you want to sign us,

(01:03:25):
our name is free. Little fucker. You know, he was
in control from that moment, and he was just brilliant.
He was the leader of the band, and they were fantastic,
really fantastic. Really sadly, you know, there's a couple of

(01:03:46):
them gone, really sadly. Paul Rockers teams to this day
that Paul Kossoff is the best guitars he ever worked with.
And he certainly we worked with Brian May and Jimmy

(01:04:07):
Page and of course uh Kasoff ultimately died on a
plane ride to do gigs in the UK from the US.
How good was Paul kas Off? What do you think
of fantastic? He was absolutely fantastic, But he had an addiction,
you know, and I mean, and he was in shocking shape.

(01:04:33):
I had. I had a situation with him once. Once
I was doing a record with Jim Capaldi and muscle
shows and somehow I had asked Kossof to come down
and and so Kossoff was in the studio, Jim Coppolis
in the studio, and then you know, we were wrapping up.

(01:04:56):
It was the end of the time, and I was
I was going back to Los Angeles and Paul Kassof
was going to come back with me to the Los
Angeles and Jim copor Who's going to go to England?
So muscle shows, you know, as I don't know if
it's still is I'm sure it is. You know, you
couldn't get a drink, you couldn't get anything. Then there's nothing.

(01:05:18):
I mean. I I asked the guy who ran and
Jimmy Johnson who ran muscle shows, and said, what do
you what do you do here? And he said, and
what do you do in this time? And he said wow.
Now and again we go to the airport and watch
him rent the corp and and he was great. But

(01:05:42):
when when we when we left to go to drive
to the airport to fly to l A. We stopped
in this little cafe and coss off and ordered this
food food at the food mashed potatoes and beef and

(01:06:02):
stuff like that. And then he kind of collapsed in
the middle of it and his face fell down and
splashed of the food. And there was a huge it
was a huge guy just walked up, finished his dinner
and walked up. He was walking by a huge guy.

(01:06:25):
I mean, it's scared than a guy. And and and
he looked at Paul Kass often he said. He didn't
even say anything. He was just laughed and course off
terms of why don't you just fuck off? I could
believe it. I could believe it. I thought I thought

(01:06:48):
we were gonna be dead and buried right then and
there m h. And then we went on too and
stayed in the light for a bit. Okay, you know
there's any the anthology on A and M called More
Gold just unreal, I mean, an unheralded band. There's so
much stuff on there that was not successful commercially. But

(01:07:10):
the third album, Fire and Water has all right now,
you know, I kind of kit from the fall of
Summer in fall of nineteen seventy with an incredible riff
that becomes their one big successful track in American worldwide?
Did you know that was going to be that big?
But I'll tell you that youruth. I projuced it record,

(01:07:35):
but I honestly didn't feel it was anything like as
good as it could have been. I don't know why,
because because it's been very successful, very very successful. Mhm.
But I I thought I thought it could have been better.
What what? What what I'd done? Because I I recorded

(01:07:58):
it and the thing which I don't know, I just
I just I just thought it could have been better.
I didn't know why. Okay, sometimes you're producing, sometimes you're not.
How do you decide to produce an act? Well, if
I feel I can contribute, if not, And okay, let's

(01:08:20):
use a couple of your production examples like We've all
right now and the first B fifty two albums for album,
what do you think you could contribute? There? Nothing? Nothing,
because they had it all down. They were fantastic. They
all arrived in Nassa, Bahamas, and the Nasso, Bahamas they

(01:08:42):
would charge the government would charge fortune for bringing in
equipment and you know, usually you had to sort of
pay to the government fifty six dollars to you, you know,
which they'd hold onto until all the instruments was shipped
back out of massal. In their case, it was it

(01:09:06):
was like four hundred dollars that they came. It was
all it was all toy to toy instruments. It was
unbelievable and it really was. And they went in the
studio and it was all toy instruments. And I don't know,
I loved I enjoyed so much that I wish I
could tell you that, you know, I didn't had contributed

(01:09:29):
the tool to any production. I didn't. They did themselves completely.
But I enjoyed so much. I liked them so much.
But they were they were they were they were just
they were special, they really were. So you end up
making deals with companies and ended up turning into Crystalis

(01:09:50):
and e g. You know, when Jeff wrote, how does
Jeff Rode told? How do roxy music? How do they
come to you? Gestel came to me with the band
I had, which was I think it was called Spooky
Tooth at that time. And when whenever a band would
go touring and come back to the office, you know, asson,

(01:10:13):
did you see anything here, anything, etcetera. Etcetera. And one
of the guys you should remember his name because he
was the needs of the band. Um you probably have
it right there. Um. Uh he was, he was the leader.
Then well you know in the band, but I wouldn't Gary,

(01:10:35):
he he was the one. Uh. And I said, or
did you see anybody? And Gary said, and he sort
of kind of giggled and laughed shyly. He said, well,
there was this act I saw who I thought was
really kind of funny, stood on one leg playing the flute,
and I said, I love it, I love it. I

(01:10:55):
must find so I went off to it and I rang,
and I found out who who was sort of identified
with him, and that was Terry Ellis and Chris Wright,
both of whom were still in college. And so it

(01:11:17):
was Terry Ellis I spoke to and I said, I
love to sign these guys, and so he did. And
then the deal I made with him was because it
wasn't really my kind of music. I just love the
idea of it. The record did very well, the first record,

(01:11:38):
and then thereafter I passed him on Christmas? And what
about the guys with the e G. Roxy Music? Were
Roxy music? Roxy music? Rocky music? Really great did very
well in England, very well in England. I think at

(01:11:58):
that at the time that rocky music was all important,
was the time that I was starting getting involved with
Bob Money. Okay, so Catch Stephens, how did you get
involved with Catch Stephens? Because somebody was chasing me up

(01:12:20):
all the time that I should see him and meet
with him, and I was not really that interested because
I had seen him on to do a show on television,
which I thought was weird because his first I don't

(01:12:40):
know if you know, his first record was I Love
my Dog More Than I Love You or my Cat
bother nine one or the other kind of which I
had seen him on television, or a dressed in clothes
which would be like from from you know, the him
alayask and of things kind of clothes and he was

(01:13:05):
singing something which that that's right. The song he was
singing was I'm going to get me a gun, That's right,
I remember, that was it. I thought, it makes no
sense that he's singing a song calling and he get
me a gun and he's dressed and his clothes. That
didn't make any sense. So it wasn't that I was
also chasing after him. It's just that the TV said

(01:13:28):
it come on, and I saw that, and I didn't,
you know, I just I didn't think. I didn't think
much about it. But later somebody rang me and continued
to ring me and continued to ring me, and eventually
I said, okay, well, then send him to come come by.
And eventually he came by, and he came with his guitar,

(01:13:54):
took off his guitar and started to play a song
and it was good. He played it on the song
and it was good, and then he played father and Son.
And when he played that song, I stopped him then
and then said, that's fantastic, and definitely I wanted to

(01:14:19):
talk to you about things, doing something when you come
come on island instead. Well, I can't come on island
because I'm on Ami. I'm on Decca. I said, yeah,
but Decca, your last records have been sold on Becca
and you know, and you should try Ireland. So he said, well,

(01:14:41):
how can I get off Decca? And I said, well,
what did your last record do? The last record had
been sold, So I said to him, who is your
a m R. Man? He said that they grow I said, oh,
the crow, the clothes I know the crow he's he's

(01:15:03):
actually the person who passed on the Beatles and he said, yeah,
that's And I said, well, why don't you call him
and say, you've got this record that you want to do,
which you're passionate about. You're going to need that, You're
gonna need it's going to be need to be a

(01:15:23):
good budget because I want to do it with the
London London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. And I said, I
think it might give you a release. So he loved.
So that was that, and in fact that's what he did.
He went off and said, I want to do this recording.

(01:15:45):
This is this is it. This is the only thing
I want to do. I really want to do this,
and h Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus and he passed. And
then I started, so what did you think when he
said he was going to stop making records having had
his religious conversion. That was the day that that um

(01:16:10):
Money died. Can you imagine, Well it was coming to
that because he was knock up. He wasn't a happy
guy um during that latter part and then he was.
He wasn't he just wasn't happy. He's he's an incredible person.

(01:16:33):
Wonderful person, but he was not. He was not a
happy guy in that period. And I think from what
I had what Anderson he he went out swimming in
in the in the sea and them in Los Angeles,

(01:16:54):
and then and she became very rough and he got
very scared and promise, ah, promises, God, you would you know,
changed to his religion. If you say that's that's pretty

(01:17:15):
much I might not have got it exactly right. Pretty
much what always told me. Let's talk about distribution in America.
Some of these albums came out on Warner, some came
out on A and M. How did you decide and
why didn't you? Or was it a matter of making
an exclusive and shifting labels? What was going on there?

(01:17:38):
I didn't really sort of have a label in in
America at a time. At the time I did have one,
but before that I didn't have one, and so I
wanted to put the record with whoever I thought would
do a good job. So, for example, Cat Seamans went

(01:18:01):
to them and warners, do you decide Bob Marley is
going to be the next big thing? Or you say, well,
this is another guy I can work with. It happened
by chance again where somebody rang me and said could
you do me a favor? I said, what is it? Said?

(01:18:25):
Could you could you meet with Bob Marley and the
Whalers because they're sound stranded in England and they don't
have their airfare back to Jamaica because the manager they
had had given them there yeah budget to get back
to Jamaica. So I said, okay. I said okay because

(01:18:49):
three days before Jimmy Cliff, who I've been working with
for ages, and it was all important because you know,
I got into to go and do the film harder
they come, because I felt that could bring the you know,
the Jamaican music scene, m hope open to the world

(01:19:11):
more so. And he did that and he acted in that,
and he did really really good in that, but he
didn't make any money on it because the film, you know,
the film came out some time later. So when he
had been sort of I had told him previously that

(01:19:34):
you know that that I've got to re read tell
you this because what what had happened with Jimmy Cliff
was that E M I wanted to sign him and
then at the same time as when Perry Hinson wanted
to make the film and I suggested that he should

(01:19:55):
really do the film. Don't sign am I, because do
the film and you'll still make money with with me.
So he did the film. But the film came on
and off and on and off and on and off,
and it took a very long time and he didn't
make any money. When when the year old came by,
and he hadn't made any money, and he was absolutely

(01:20:17):
within his right to say, well, now I'm going to
go to e m I because you told me I wouldn't.
I didn't. And so when he did say that, I
was I was upset. But he was within his rights
completely and that was that, and I was very upset.
And then the next day is when I get this

(01:20:40):
call from the person asking if I would meet with
Bob Marley and and funny way that and he's a
toash because they all stranded in London, and I said yes,
and so they came by. He came to see me,
and they walked in like kings. You know, they didn't

(01:21:03):
look like they were busted or anything. They were strong,
definitely strong. And I chatted to them for a bit
and I asked them what their plans are and one
of them said that I think. Bunny said that way
wanted to get on American black radio, and I said,

(01:21:25):
I didn't think you have a hope of getting on
American black radio. So and it just came out of
my mouth way too fast, and it should have done.
I guess they were very upset that said that, you know,
Pizza and Bunny, and then Bob piped up and said, Bob, what,

(01:21:46):
but what do you think? And then said, I think
I think I think you should we'll have a black
rock act, position yourself as a kind of black rock
act rather than keep doing just to making music. So

(01:22:08):
there was a mix there. Bob saw it and agreed it,
and the other two didn't agree, and the other two
sort of then split and Bob stayed on, but they
all they all stayed on as friends and everything. But
that's that's really how that happens. Okay, catch a Fire

(01:22:31):
is the first album. What do you do to make
it sound more rock rock radio friendly? I got a
guitarists from from Corwayne Perkins from muscle shows. I've been
working with him in muscle shows, brilliant and I just

(01:22:52):
wanted they wanted that. I wanted that kind of feel.
And there was another keyboard player. Uh who also was
you know a musician not not not not just reggae
musician and he he was on it. So Bob Marley
makes multiple albums, all too great reviews. But it's a

(01:23:16):
very very slow build. What was it like from the inside? Uh,
solid is all I can say. You know. I wasn't.
I wasn't. It wasn't in a rush. I just felt
it was something that could could really grow because it

(01:23:37):
was growing, you know, it was just it didn't it
didn't explode, It just grew. It's still growing. And to
what degreed you believe the live album from the Lyceum
put him over the top, which is my perspective, but
you're inside the building, so to speak. Yes, well that

(01:24:01):
was a key thing again one of those things that
happened by chance, because he was doing a gig about
a month before that show in l A at the Roxy.
And when I was watching it and it was it

(01:24:21):
was it was quite something because I was it was
so important, you know, I called it for what I
knew to be there and everything, how important it was.
And then and then when Bob and then came out
to play, they didn't play, you know, he didn't he
had his back to the audience was like rehearsing, and
that fo sake, it started when he's going to get

(01:24:44):
started and everything. And eventually when he did turn around
and start, the audience sort of stood up and things
like that. It's it's that it was very scary to
me because it was such an important thing, and I
was really worried that it wasn't going to work. But

(01:25:06):
they'd say when it when it turned around and started,
it worked. And we're talking about the Lyceum now, the Lyceum.
I called London that that same evening because that same evening,
in the in the back of the theater, theater, back

(01:25:30):
back of the club, in one corner, a lot of
girls were all singing, no woman, no crying, and I thought, wow,
we must record that, must record them when they play
in London. So I contacted the Stones and booked the
Rolling Stones, and Rolling Stones said the mobile studio, and

(01:25:55):
that's what happened. We wrote. Okay, you know, hard to
discern the truth, but I remember when Bob got cancer,
the word was that he amputated his foot. He would
have survived, but he wouldn't let them. What's the true story.
That's the true story. There's no way he would he

(01:26:17):
would have his toe amputated. Why because he loved sucking
as much as he loved music. And how did he
handle the inevitable end. He he handled it very obviously.

(01:26:42):
It was all it was all very sad because he was,
you know, there was nothing good shape. I went to
see him a couple of times when he was in Germany.
H he was, it was something good shape, you know.
Did he he ever expressed regret that he didn't have
his toe ampudated? No? No, m okay. So, uh, how

(01:27:18):
did you decide to build a studio a campus point?
I knew I didn't want to be recording in Jamaica,
there was I don't know, I don't know. I don't
know why I started the studio then in Nassa. I
mean I know a reason why, and that was because
you know, when you when you there's studios in a

(01:27:41):
city that tend to be a lot of people come
and hang around, and you get too many people hanging
around and that can be really a nightmare. In Nassa,
there was nobody, so there was nobody to kind of
interfere and come in and come out. And I got
this tune and I got that, and I like this
more and that and stuff like that. I wanted. I

(01:28:03):
wanted somewhere which was just away from anywhere, and and
it worked. It worked. We had some great recordings there.
How did Fly and Robbie get involved. I brought them in.
I brought them in, absolutely. I brought them in to

(01:28:25):
work with Grace because I wanted to you know, Grace
Jones's first record so quite well, second record, so half
of that, third record, so half of that. So I
thought we should should I should change producers and and

(01:28:46):
decided to make myself a producer. So that's that's that's
what I did. Really, I I wanted to bring the
Jamaican Jamaican rhythm section and Jamaican that musicians and bring
in from Europe a musician who played an instrument called

(01:29:11):
profits At the time, it was a new instrument and
he had relieved made one record which had been a
huge hit throughout Europe. So I got hold of him,
got him to come and they also I got the
guitarists who played on Merry and Faithful record, which is

(01:29:33):
a beautiful record if you don't know it, about the
Broken English record. Yes, the phenomenal record. So I brought
him down and it was it was a risk because
you know Jamaican musicians that they can be tough, you know.
And so they arrived at the studio and he has

(01:29:55):
Wally Badaroux who is from West Africa, very effeat um
pitch black guy, very very classy, and then there was
Barry Reynolds and you know, looked at first it could
be a little bit of a problem because they weren't
kind of getting on at first. And then and then

(01:30:22):
I I turned up and I think I managed to
pull them together. And what I did was take this
large picture which Jean Paul Good, Grace's boyfriend, baby father,
et cetera, had made this record, I'm sorry, made this

(01:30:46):
art and it was it was a group of great
photograph of Grace dressed like a sort of g I
sitting down like a sort of gr really tough thing,
and I had didn't blow it up very big and
in the studio and I told I told the band,

(01:31:07):
I said, the record we're going to be doing, it's
got to look like this picture. So um so everybody thought,
I guess it was a bit bit nuts, but that's
what we did. And in the first day it looked
as if it wasn't gonna work, because, you know, they

(01:31:28):
Wally Bad and the Jamaicans were really hitting it off.
And then the second day, after Wally Barou had played
something they couldn't believe, you know, how talented he was.
They hadn't experienced profit equipment before, so they were they

(01:31:50):
were certainly behind it. And and from then on it
was just it was it could not have been, that
could not have been better. We recorded, We just kept recording,
recording three albums pretty much. Okay, what about Robert Palmer?
Ultimately did his cocaine use kill him? I think it

(01:32:14):
damaged him, Yes, yes, yes, and it's really sad he Honestly,
he's one of the best of all. I learned a
huge amount from him. I learned anything that I had
known and learned was from him about African music. So

(01:32:38):
it was really through him that I signed Kizzania day first,
and then Sealef Guitar and angel Ki Show and all
the different I got totally into the African world. But
he he knew the music real he was so he

(01:32:58):
was so smart, so smart that he had a rotten
manager guy who was a rotten guy. H it goes,
this goes on there, probably because the person still around,
but it was a terrible terrible guy. Terrible terrible guy,

(01:33:19):
and you know, encouraged Robert to do what he should
not be doing and didn't do anything about really keep
him under control or getting him under control any any
I'm sure it could have been done if the person
that really cared enough for they didn't care. And it

(01:33:43):
was very sad. I mean, I love Robert prom he
was like, I don't know, he felt like a brother
to me. I learned. I learned a lot from him,
I really did. And how do you feel when he
had left the label? I was upset, he was upset.
He didn't he didn't he didn't want to his manage
and moved in there. Okay, so you have this great

(01:34:07):
success with you two, which is on distributed on Warner,
and then you don't have enough money to pay them
the royalties ultimately given percentage of the company. Go a
little deeper into what happened there. Well, one evening I
went back to my apartment in New York and I've

(01:34:32):
stitch on the radio and I heard the most incredible
drumming by by a drama musician. It was. It was
a song, but the drum pattern was just incredible and
I just couldn't leave it. I've never heard anything so good.

(01:34:55):
So I tracked down where it came from, and I've
on that it came from Washington, d C. So I thought, well,
I'd go down and check it out. So I went
down and I checked checked it out. And there was
a whole scene coming out of Washington, d C. At
that time. But it was very tough. I mean it was,

(01:35:20):
you know, it was very dangerous at that time. And
I I heard this one band, I thought they were great,
and then I saw another band. I thought they were great,
and I thought, you know something, maybe what what we

(01:35:41):
should do is what we did when the hard did
they come to do a film which can project what
story is all about. And so that's what I did.
I decided to do and I decided to do it
with a with a partner, a man, a good friend

(01:36:01):
of mine called Jeremy Thomas, was a really excellent filmmaker,
and he said he'd helped on it, but he was
waiting for a film that he had been prepared for,
which was called The Last Emperor, and he was waiting
until they could start shooting on that. So he said,

(01:36:25):
I might have to leave sometimes. So anyhow we got
started and then boom, the last temper suddenly got the
girl ahead to get financed and get done, and he left.
And I know nothing about making movies, and so you know,

(01:36:46):
I put some more money in when things weren't doing
too good they are et cetera. And ultimately it's you know,
the film wasn't really much good and so the music
didn't get any attention, didn't happen, and that was that,

(01:37:06):
and that's what that's what ultimately caused me to so
so iland and do that to the arrangement I did
with them, you too, first, you know, So I mean
nobody got hurt. Okay, in retrospect, nobody got hurt. What

(01:37:29):
happens when you tell Paul McGinnis, I don't have the
money to pay you. All I knowed there was no
there was no bad vibes. It was you know, it
was something which was wrong and could be fixed. And
so it got fixed. You know. I gave them a
piece of the company and everything. Okay, So that was

(01:37:52):
part of the deal. You said, listen, I can't afford
to pay you, and I'll give you part of the company.
It wasn't like you were negotiating back and forth. He said,
I'd I'd like a piece of the company. No, So
how did you ultimately decide to sell? I think I
think because I really screwed that whole thing up. You know,

(01:38:14):
the It was a bit of bad luck. But I've
had a lot of good luck, but it was a
bit of bad luck. Thing of the the last temper
suddenly being available where it was some time before it was,
they needs to raise all the finance to get it started.

(01:38:35):
And because if Jeremy had been around, um, I'm sure
one could have done something from that film and the
music from the d C at the period in that
period that had some wicked music, really really great music,
could have done something. So ultimately you go to work

(01:38:57):
for PolyGram the purchaser for ten years, then you go
in depending and then you're done. Do you feel that
the whole time you were involved in the music business
was a moment in time or you could replicate it today?
Do you miss it? I think I miss it because
of other things that I've really gotten into. Um, because

(01:39:26):
if it was going to stay active in the music business,
you've got to stay active in the music business. I mean,
you can't how fast it and you've got to stay
with it and follow up with it and everything. Otherwise
you let people down and I don't want to do that.

(01:39:46):
So no, that was that was That was pretty much.
You know, I mean, I'm doing what I'm doing now,
which I love doing. You know, they and the property
we have in Jamaica. You know, it's it's it's great.

(01:40:08):
It's really great. Means a lot of people, Yeah, learned
a lot. It's great. I love it. And to what
degreed do you still keep up on music and listen
to music. I don't sort of chase it all the time,
but if somebody, if someone is says sends something to

(01:40:30):
me or something, I'm immediately going to listen to it.
Um whether I'll feel it or not feel it, you
know what I mean. There wasn't an incredible record made
in Jamaica last year, which is really one of the
best records I've ever heard come out of Jamaica. I
had nothing to do with it, but it was really

(01:40:52):
really great. This course sets it up and if you
had been involved, would it have been much more commercially
success us all, Well, yes, I think so. But but
I would have had to have been involved in it
from the beginning of it rather than by the end
of it, because by the end of it, when it's
ready to be released and come out, it has all

(01:41:13):
the people around it and everybody's in place, and the
managers here and and the publishers there and they do
you know what I mean? Yeah, Okay, So if you
look back on your career and it's astounding, one of
the most legendary, if not the most legendary independent record
label at the time when music drove the culture. Is

(01:41:35):
it swy generous you were just one guy doing it?
Or can we take lessons from that? Can you give
any lessons to the younger generation? Well, I think that's it.
You know, if you find something that you really love doing,
I mean, that's the luckiest thing in the world, and
and one works on it and you have your ups

(01:41:57):
and downs and things like that, but um, you know,
it's it's it's it's so special you know when you
when when you're you see somebody performing and you know
where they've started and how they've come from and how
they've evolved. I Mean, the person I'm so proud of

(01:42:21):
is Angelie Kisa I don't know if you know, No,
sure you do, right. Well, she's fantastic. You know, I
signed on with her very early. I I didn't I
didn't tell her what to do directly what to do,
but you know, I was very supported to all the

(01:42:43):
way through and just slowly, in short ashes, just developed herself.
And I feel proud of that. And I love that,
you know, and and and I love music. I just do. Okay, Chris,
I want to thank you so much for taking the
time I'm telling your story, giving us this insight from

(01:43:03):
Golden Eyed. Thanks so much. Thank you. Until next time.
This is Bob left sets H
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