Page last updated at 01:07 GMT, Thursday, 9 April 2009 02:07 UK

Marley's mentor gets music honour

Islands Records founds Chris Blackwell
Chris Blackwell discovered reggae singer Bob Marley in Jamaica in 1972

The man who introduced the world to Bob Marley and U2 has been named the most influential figure in the last 50 years of the British music industry.

Island Records founder Chris Blackwell received a special honour at the Music Week magazine awards in London.

He was picked from a shortlist of 20 leading UK-based executives.

Other contenders ranged from Sir George Martin, who signed and produced The Beatles, to X Factor and American Idol judge Simon Cowell.

The honour was given by Music Week to mark its 50th anniversary. Island Records, which Mr Blackwell set up with £1,000 in 1959, is also celebrating its 50th year in the music industry.

The label signed pioneering artists like Jimmy Cliff, Traffic, Nick Drake and Roxy Music in the 1960s and '70s, and Mr Blackwell discovered future reggae legend Bob Marley in Jamaica in 1972.

In 1989, Mr Blackwell sold the label, which has since become home to acts including Amy Winehouse, PJ Harvey, Pulp, Portishead, Keane, Mika and Paul Weller.

Video speech

Mr Blackwell was not at the ceremony, but described the honour as "unbelievable" in a video message.

Other executives considered for the award included Beatles manager Brian Epstein, live music promoter Harvey Goldsmith and Glastonbury Festival guru Michael Eavis.

Virgin Records founder Richard Branson, legendary record producer Mickie Most and Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant were also on the shortlist.

Duffy presented her manager with a trophy at the Music Week Awards

In the music magazine's other awards, former Island Records head of press Rob Partridge - who first suggested the label sign U2 - received a posthumous accolate, the Strat.

In a video tribute to Partridge, who died last year, U2 singer Bono said the publicist "believed in us before we believed in ourselves".

Chart-topper Duffy made an appearance at the ceremony to present the manager of the year award to her mentor, former Public Image Ltd member Jeanette Lee.

Duffy's label Polydor, also home to Take That, Girls Aloud and Snow Patrol, won record company of the year.

The prize for best independent label went to XL, which has put out albums by Radiohead, Adele, MIA and Vampire Weekend.

Xenomania, who have crafted hits for Girls Aloud, Alesha Dixon and Gabriella Cilmi, were named producers of the year.

BBC Radio 2 won radio station of the year, while the Brixton Academy was named best live music venue.

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