In 1972 Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, bought Strawberry Hill, a beautiful mountain estate nestled 3,000 feet atop of Jamaica’s glorious Blue Mountains. A place where Blackwell often visited as a child for an afternoon tea, this quiet retreat and secluded oasis would become home to one of the music industries most revered producers.
At this time Chris was introducing Bob Marley and Reggae into mainstream popular music in the UK. As a result during the 70’s and 80’s, many famous entertainers and musicians visited the property, including the Rolling Stones, Marianne Faithful, Grace Jones, Black Uhuru, Willie Nelson and Bob Marley who convalesced at Strawberry Hill after being shot in 1976.
It was in the late 60’s early 70’s that the Jamaicans and the rock music lovers in the UK shared a love of dancing and soon the Mods (rockers) of London were swaying to the Jamaican sound. Blackwell introduced not only Ska and Rock Steady with Millie Small, The Maytals, Jackie Edwards, and the Skatalites but rock as well with artistes like the Spencer Davis Group, Free, Traffic, Blind Faith, Jethro Tull and Fairport Convention.
Music has always been an invigorating, stimulating and relaxing experience for me throughout my life,
– Chris Blackwell.
Meanwhile in Jamaica, Strawberry Hill became the meeting place for international and Jamaican artistes to link up, compose and jam together as can be seen by the images in the Bar. Studio One brought up their mixing board to record Mick Jagger and Peter Tosh and shoot a video of them together. Third World recorded their first LP “Sata Amasa Gana” in the mid Seventies.
In 1986 Strawberry Hill opened to the public as a restaurant and received the National Heritage in Architecture Award. The devastation of Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 destroyed the great house, the original and beloved meeting place at Strawberry Hill. In 1991 Mr. Blackwell commissioned Ann Hodges, a Jamaican Architect specializing in restoration architecture, to build him a cottage on the property and develop Strawberry Hill into a boutique hotel and spa with 14 Colonial inspired villas, a magnificent wood bar, negative edge pool and an excellent Jamaican fare restaurant.
Strawberry Hill Today
Today, Strawberry Hill’s Bar and Conference Room is home to a significant photographic tour of music’s most influential players over the past four decades. Guests at the mountaintop retreat can visually experience personal photos from Mr. Blackwell’s collection, which includes shots of U2, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger, Phil Collins, Millie Small, Sinehead O’Conner, Peter Tosh, and Sting (and studies from the Adrian Boot Collection).
Showcasing this collection of photographs albums and awards at Strawberry Hill, an environment that is all of those attributes as well as incredibly beautiful, has created a natural habitat to highlight the success of these talented artists.
These photographs are found in the company of a legendary assortment of platinum disc awards from artists Mr. Blackwell and Island Records has either produced or nurtured including King Crimson, Traffic, Cat Stevens, Dru Hill, U2, Melissa Etheridge, and Nine Inch Nails. There is an entire wall of gold and platinum discs earned by Island Records from the sale of Bob Marley LPs from Catch a Fire to Legend.