Island Studios

Home of the most successful independent record label of all time

Island Records moved to 22 St Peter’s Square, Chiswick in 1973 beginning a tradition of ground-breaking music. It entered what many see as its most productive period soon after releasing classic albums by Bob Marley & The Wailers, Cat Stevens, U2, Roxy Music and Robert Palmer to name but a few.

Genre-crossing, decade-spanning and record-breaking, Island Records was, and is likely to remain the most successful independent

record label of all time. Many firsts were racked up by Island Records. In 1964 Millie Small’s version of My Boy Lollipop became the first internationally successful ska track selling over 6 million records and putting Island on the map.

In 1979 The Buggles released the global smash-hit Video Killed The Radio Star accompanied by a ground-breaking music video which was the first video to air on MTV.

Along with music, Island branched out into film production - The Harder They Come and Countryman are widely regarded as two of the best films about music and Jamaica.

As well as winning their fair share of music awards, Island were the production company behind the Oscar winning films, Kiss Of The Spiderwoman and The Trip To Bountiful.

Chris Blackwell

Chris Blackwell began his career in the music industry on the island of Jamaica, sniffing out hits and selling them to bar and café owners who loaded them up into jukeboxes. He soon started working with DJs and sound-systems and then with producers and recording studios.

In 1962, when his records started selling more copies in the UK, he moved his base to London. He famously drove around the streets of London in a Mini packed with vinyl fresh in from Jamaica.

It is said that U2 made $30 million when Chris Blackwell sold Island to PolyGram for £272 million in 1989 – they had agreed to convert a $5 million royalties debt due from sales of The Joshua Tree that Island couldn’t pay at the time.

In 2001 Chris Blackwell was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On 10th April 2009, Music Week named Blackwell the most influential person in British music of the last 50 years.

22 St Peter’s Square & The Royal Chiswick Laundry

St Peter’s Square, the idyllic residential square home to Island Records, was designed and constructed in the 1820’s. The back garden of number 22 was soon built on and turned into the Royal Chiswick Laundry. By 1900 it was serving various royal palaces and households along with the general public.

Legend has it that Alderman Sir Marshall Hayes, Justice of the Peace, Mayor of Hammersmith and a member of London County Council, awarded himself an exclusive local laundry license shortly after buying the buildings.

In 2009 the firm of architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands were presented with the prestigious Hammersmith Society award for conservation for their work on 22 St Peter’s Square. The architects were also commended for their preservation work on the former Royal Chiswick Laundry building at 47 British Grove, home to Omnifone.