HITS Daily Double


As part of the label's 60th anniversary festivities, Island Records originator Chris Blackwell and current chief Darcus Beese traveled to L.A.'s Grammy Museum on the afternoon of 11/23 for a fascinating conversation about the storied record company's history and direction; a performance by buzzing Island artist Jessie Reyez; and a reception at which everybody wanted to take a selfie with the guests of honor.

A throng of industry players and well-wishers turned out for the event. Unfortunately for all concerned, some HITS losers talked their way in as well.

Grammy Museum luminary and longtime Blackwell friend Bob Santelli conducted the interview, which saw Blackwell recall the origins of the label in Jamaica, the discovery of Millie Small (whose "My Boy Lollipop" became an early monster for the company), the evolution of Bob Marley, working with Jimmy Cliff, how he got Cat Stevens out of his Decca deal in order to sign him, how he first came upon Steve Winwood, his early encounter with U2 and more. Beese, for his part, detailed his youthful stint as a "tea boy" at Island before his ascent to A&R man, U.K. chief and finally head of the overall label, his admiration for the man he calls his mentor and his own artist discoveries, notably Amy Winehouse.

It was an enlightening and often playful conversation that underscored how similar these two execs are in spirit.

OK, let's get to the photos.

Blackwell and Beese field questions from Santelli in the Museum's Clive Davis Theater, shortly before leading the audience in a spirited rendition of "My Boy Lollipop."

Seen just before inhaling next to an exhibit of Bob Marley's earliest spleef work are (l-r) UMe boss Bruce Resnikoff, UMG EVP Michele Anthony, Blackwell, Reyez, Beese, Island COO Eric Wong and GM Latrice Burnette.

Beese appears relaxed in this HITS sandwich between President Karen Glauber and editorial half-wit Simon Glickman, but he is in fact frantically blinking a distress signal in Morse code.

Our own Samantha Hissong corrals Wong and Reyez into a pic that will appear on her IG feed alongside 87 photos of her puppy and 89 angles of her current haircut.