Sunday, June 07, 2009
Millie: My Boy Lollipop
With attention being paid to the 50th anniversary of Island Records, let's listen to the record that started it all.
Millie Small was a Jamaican teenager who reached number 1 in Britain and number 2 in America with this record. She was already recording in Jamaica before the founder of Island, Chris Blackwell, came across her and then brought her to London to make records.
Her fame proved short lived, though this 2006 article from the Jamaica Gleaner suggests that she is now living in Britain and still singing.
After the success of "My Boy Lollipop" Chris Blackwell started to looks for other artists to promote and discovered the Spencer Davis Group. You can hear Millie singing backing vocals on that group's recording of "I'm Blue". The piano player is not Steve Winwood but Peter Asher.
For a time he licensed all his artists' records to other labels. The first single on Island, with its distinctive pink label, was "Paper Sun" by Steve Winwood's new band Traffic. You can read more about Island Records on its 50th anniversary website.
One final point: despite the rumours, Rod Stewart did not play the harmonica on "My Boy Lollipop". It was Pete Hogman.