Island Records Turns 50.

From its origins as an importer of Jamaican music in the early 1960s, Island Records would go on to become one of the most influential record labels of all time. The success was down to Island boss Chris Blackwell's vision of signing artists on long-term deals and developing them gradually rather than looking for instant success.

"The label has been responsible for the careers of some of the biggest stars in music including U2, Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, Traffic, Free, Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, Sandy Denny, Toots & The Maytals, John Martyn, Marianne Faithfull, Aswad, Tom Waits, King Sunny Ade, Third World, Roxy Music, Robert Palmer, the B52s, Sly & Robbie, Melissa Etheridge, The Slits, Steel Pulse, Grace Jones, Tom Tom Club, Pulp, Tricky, Talvin Singh, and latterly Amy Winehouse, PJ Harvey, DJ Shadow, Sugababes, Keane, The Fratellis, Scott Matthews, Paul Weller, The Feeling, Portishead and Florence & The Machine."

Chris Blackwell sold Island Records to PolyGram in 1989. PolyGram is now owned by Universal Music Group.

To mark 50 years, the label has collaborated with Blackwell for the Island 50 festival. The Island 50 festival began Monday with 'ISLAND LIFE' - a week of live shows by Island artists past and present at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire.

Inagural night was kicked off by Sly & Robbie, Aswad, the I-Threes, and Grace Jones. Thursday night's perfomance featured Baaba Maal, during whose performance U2 made a not-so-surprise appearance. Bono returned later to the stage to introduce one of Island's most successful artists, Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam, who played a rare intimate gig.

Paul Weller, among others, performed last night, and Keane and the Tom Tom Club will perform this evening.

Island 50's complete picture gallery

Times Online & Island Records