So, yeah, GoldenEye is now owned by Chris Blackwell, who last year turned it into a small luxury resort (10 rooms on the beach, 10 on a private lagoon and the Fleming house set on over 50 acres of beach and jungle). Back in the day, his mother was Ian Fleming’s lover and — how’s this for a traumatizing childhood event? — was the inspiration for Pussy Galore and once gifted Fleming with a boat she named Octopussy. (“MOM! Ewwww!”) When he was 21, Chris’ own small sailboat got wrecked and he washed up injured on shore, only to be taken in by Rastafarian’s who healed him. This gave him a spiritual connection to that culture, which would serve him well in later years. When he was 25 he was hired as the location scout for the first James Bond film, which was shot on the island, and at the time there were no film processing studios in Jamaica. They had to send the dailies by plane to Miami and wait 24 hours to see if what came back was useable. He told me that they were all gathered in the screening room (“Ian, Sean, all us…”) when they first saw the completed scene of Ursula Andress coming out of the water. “That’s when we knew it was going to be a hit.” He was offered a permanent job doing the Bond locations but a fortune teller told him he was going to have a more successful career in the music business so he went on to found Island Records, which did indeed bring Bob Marley and reggae to the world (Chris produced The Wailers’ Catch a Fire album) but he also signed U2, Traffic, Jethro Tull, Roxy Music, produced the film The Harder They Come and much more). There’s a moral in this somewhere but it escapes me.
Anyway, it was his birthday when I was there and he invited me to dinner. Man, oh, man does this guy have some stories.
Goldeneye is sublimely beautiful and even if it’s full that only means a few people — Heaven for introverts. I’ve worked with enough rock stars and Hollywood folk to be spectacularly unmoved by close proximity but our last night there, hanging at the bar with Chris, Win and Regine of Arcade Fire, and Bob Marley’s daughter, drinking Blackwell Dark Rum (yeah, the guy has his own rum for God’s sake) as the waves gently lapped nearby and the warm Jamaican breeze tickled the trees, I began to give serious thought to ditching everything, moving there and becoming a goat farmer. A few keynotes, a few goats, I could make it work.