Ian Fleming unintentionally aided Bob Marley's rise to stardom after he helped his mistress' son land a job scouring the Caribbean for musical talent, a new book has revealed.
The James Bond creator resided at his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica after his work as a British intelligence officer, and moved in the same circles as future Island Records founder Chris Backwell.
The music producer got his first big break sourcing authentic Caribbean songs for Dr No, ultimately using the money and the prestige from the work to support the burgeoning style of Reggae and the eventual career of Marley.
But he was the son of the Bond author’s long-time lover Blanche Blackwell, and new book Ian Fleming’s Inspiration shows it was the writer’s influence which secured him the job.
The spy novelist suggested to franchise producers Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli that his acquaintance Mr Blackwell could help them on the Dr No set in Jamaica.
Fleming reported his success in pulling strings, writing to his mistress that “Christopher will do this job splendidly” and saying it was a chance to “seek out talent and lease them his recording studio”.
The recording studio was that of the fledgling Island Records, which after the success of his Bond assignment and the popularity of Dr No had a financial and cultural boost which would eventually allow the label to launch Bob Marley and the Wailers to global fame with a 1972 record deal.
“There is no question that he was doing this to give Chris an opportunity to raise his profile,” Ian Fleming’s Inspiration author Edward Abel Smith said of the writer’s favour.
“He was quite hands-on for the first two film, before he died, and in some ways was a bit of a nuisance to the producers, for example, canvassing for actors to get roles etc.
“So when he put forward Chris as a local help in Jamaica, they probably saw it as an easy way to appease him.”
Fleming’s letter confirming Mr Backwell’s employment to his mother also mentions as young Sean Connery as “a real charmer – fairly unknown but a good actor with the right looks and physique”, and notes it “looks as if we are all going to have great fun with this film business”.
The film business would lead to 25 subsequent installments, but the author is as fixated on his mistress’ hedgerows and flowers in his correspondence as he is with Dr No.
Fleming died in 1964, eight years before his music producing protege Mr Blackwell worked with Reggae superstar Marley.
He would use his big break and ear for Jamacian music to sign Millie Small, Toots and the Maytals, before supporting the likes of Nirvana and U2.