Jon Baker (producer)

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Jon Baker (born 1960) is a music industry executive. He has worked as a fashion designer, promoter, and is currently co-owner of Geejam, a luxury resort and recording studio located in San San, near Port Antonio, Jamaica.

Early life[edit]

Baker was born in 1960. His father was a specialist car dealer.[1]

In 1978, Baker opened a fashion store called Axiom in the Great Gear Market on King's Road in London and was a stylist for many New Romantic bands such as Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran).[2][3] In 1981, Baker traveled to New York to stage a fashion show by Axiom designers, coupled with a performance by Spandau Ballet at the Underground Club on Union Square Park.[4][5][6]

NYC, 1980–84[edit]

In the early 1980s, Baker moved to New York and worked with Ruza Blue, a British expat and music promoter, who brought him to Disco Fever, an important early hip hop club in the Bronx.[7] Ruza Blue started a popular hip hop night at NYC's Club Negril. When Negril proved too small a venue, she promoted an important and very popular Friday night hip hop party at The Roxy. During this era, Baker also ran Jon Baker Productions, a small booking agency that brought well known club nights from London and Berlin to New York's Danceteria, and British design collectives to New York and produced fashion shows for nightclubs like Danceteria, the Roxy, the Peppermint Lounge, and The Ritz.[1]

Gee Street Records, 1985–90[edit]

Baker returned to London in 1984. In 1985, Baker organized Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick's first UK tour.[8] That year, he met Rob Birch and Nick Hallam of the Stereo MCs and together they began to produce and distribute white label records to London dance shops. He also met his future wife Ziggi Golding, an agent who ran the progressive "Z" modeling agency, with whom he established Gee Street Records.[9][10][11] Among the artists, Gee Street signed and/or promoted were Jon King/King Butcher, Funtopia, Gail Ann Dorsey, Queen Latifah, Jungle Brothers, the Stereo MCs, and P.M. Dawn.

Gee Street's first major success was the release of Straight out the Jungle by Jungle Brothers; their single "I'll House You" went top 5 in the UK national charts.[12] Then, in 1988, he signed the Stereo MCs to a licensing deal with Island Records. In 1989, he brought P.M. Dawn to England.

Island Records 1991–97 / V2 1997–2000[edit]

In 1990, Chris Blackwell signed P.M. Dawn, and proposed a joint venture with Island/PolyGram that secured Gee Street's roster for Island.[13] Back in the US, Baker became a senior A&R man on the Island Records team and head of Blackwell's newly formed Island Jamaica label for North America, which included Luciano, Chaka Demus and Pliars, and Beenie Man, among others. In 1996, Blackwell left Island and the Polygram group. With this, Baker bought Gee Street and resold 75% of it to Richard Branson. In the deal, Baker retained control of Gee Street's marketing, promotion and A&R, while Branson made Gee Street the cornerstone of V2 Records in North America and named Baker co-president.[14]

Geejam, 2000s[edit]

Baker sold his shares of Gee Street to Richard Branson in 2000.[15] In 2002, he moved to Jamaica, became a Jamaican citizen. That year, he also produced the album Adelante, featuring Ky-Mani Marley and Alberto D'Ascola (aka Alborosie)[16]

In 2004, Baker produced Two Culture Clash in collaboration with producer Mark Jones in the UK.[17] In 2004 and again in 2005, he became a consultant for New Reality TV's Digicel Rising Stars talent competition on Jamaica's TVJ television station in 2004.[18][19]

In 2006, Baker worked with Steve Beaver of the Hong Kong-based Beaver Music on the Singerz Collection album series through Universal Music Japan; it featured contemporary songs interpreted in a reggae style. Later that year, however, Baker and Beaver went into a more formal partnership and agreed to develop Geejam into a luxury private hotel.[20] To this point, Baker had devoted a great deal of his energy to make Geejam an exclusive residential recording studio. The studio's resources had earned a strong reputation among industry insiders and attracted several top artists including Gorillaz, No Doubt, India Arie, Dru Hill, Gondwana, Les Nubians, Wyclef Jean, and Björk.[21][22]

Geejam opened to the general public in 2008 and is part of the Island Outpost brand.[23][24][25][26][27] Since 2008, Geejam has been rated Jamaica's number-one hotel by travel review website TripAdvisor.com in March 2010.[28] Over this time, Drake, Santigold, Major Lazer, and Amy Winehouse have all worked on recording projects there.[29][30] The Geejam Group's most recent project involved the Jamaican mento band The Jolly Boys. Their album Great Expectation was released in the UK on 13 September 2010, and was received well by critics in Europe.[31][32][33][34]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Ruza Blue and Mole," New York Magazine, April 4, 1983, p. 35.
  2. ^ Geo. (1982). Gruner & Jahr, p. 90.
  3. ^ "Jon (Mole) Baker 1980". sueclowes.com. sueclowes.com/. Retrieved 2014-09-11.
  4. ^ "1981, Blue Rondo create a new buzz with Latin sounds and an extreme suited dude look | ➢➢ Shapers of the 80s ➣➣". Shapersofthe80s.com. 1981-06-21. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  5. ^ Duka, John, "Notes on Fashion," New York Times (Late Edition (East Coast)). New York, N.Y.: March 17, 1981. p. B.12.
  6. ^ "1981, First Blitz invasion of the US | ➢➢ Shapers of the 80s ➣➣". Shapersofthe80s.com. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  7. ^ "Programmes | World News America | First person: Kool Lady Blue". BBC News. 2008-12-19. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  8. ^ Bynoe, Yvonne (2006). "Slick Rick." Encyclopedia of Rap and Hip-Hop Culture, Greenwood Press, p. 104.
  9. ^ Larkin, Colin (1995), Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music, p. 1617.
  10. ^ "Jon Baker « So Many Records, So Little Time". Somanyrecordssolittletime.com. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  11. ^ Zaremba, Peter (April–May 2014). "Recording in Jamaica with Jon Baker". tapeop.com. Retrieved 11 September 2014.
  12. ^ Jackson, Bill (1996). "The Jungle Brothers" in Vibe. Vol. 4, no. 6, pp. 85-6.
  13. ^ Romanowski, Patricia, Holly George-Warren, Jon Pareles (1995). The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Fireside Press, p. 774.
  14. ^ Larkin, Colin. (1987). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Dance Music. "Gee Street Records." p. 134.
  15. ^ "Newsline." Billboard, November 20, 1999, p. 102.
  16. ^ "Artists Mix Work And Play At Geejam Studios in Jamaica." Billboard, May 25, 2002, p. 45.
  17. ^ "collective - the interactive culture magazine". BBC. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  18. ^ "Gee Jam signs deal with Digicel - Rising Stars runners-up to get more training". Jamaica Gleaner. August 22, 2004. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  19. ^ "A new star rises". Jamaica Gleaner. October 2, 2005. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  20. ^ "Geejam studios and boutique resort unveiled". Jamaica Gleaner. April 2, 2008. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  21. ^ "Gee Jam puts down roots in Portland". Jamaica Gleaner. December 22, 2000. Archived from the original on March 16, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  22. ^ Read, Michael (2006), Jamaica. Lonely Planet, p. 129.
  23. ^ d'Arcy, Susan, "Cut a Record in Jamaica," The Sunday Times (UK), Travel Section. June 21, 2009.
  24. ^ Condé Nast Traveller (2009), "The Red Hot List 2009. Our Choice of the World's Best New Hotels." May.
  25. ^ (2009), "Travel Guide 2009: The World's Most Glamorous Hotels, Hideaways, Villas and Lodges." Harper's Bazaar, January 2009, p. 58.
  26. ^ Travel + Leisure, it list: The T+L Editors' Choice Awards 2009. June 2009, p. 146.
  27. ^ "Island Jam", Vanity Fair, July 2008, p. 28.
  28. ^ "Reviews of Hotels, Flights and Vacation Rentals". TripAdvisor. 2014-04-28. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  29. ^ "Diplo & Switch". Socialstereotype.com. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  30. ^ "Old Mon and the Sea". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  31. ^ "Music - Review of The Jolly Boys - Great Expectation". BBC. 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  32. ^ "The Jolly Boys: sound that rocked Jamaica - and Errol Flynn". Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  33. ^ "The Jolly Boys cover Amy Winehouse on single off new album - #AltSounds". Hangout.altsounds.com. Archived from the original on 2010-08-03. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  34. ^ "One jolly set of boys - Entertainment". Jamaica Observer. 2010-09-24. Archived from the original on 2011-08-04. Retrieved 2014-08-06.