The Tamlins (harmonizing trio)
The Tamlins, consisting of (l to r) Derrick Lara, Junior Moore and Carlton Smith, started out as a nightclub act in 1970 and by 1972 had won the "Most Outstanding Group" award in Jamaica. This quickly opened other doors and shortly thereafter The Tamlins signed a recording contract with one of Jamaica’s then top studios, Dynamic Sounds. Out of this came “Thick and Thin,” a ballad that made a good impression locally and drew interest from foreign labels such as Atlantic and Polydor.
In 1974 their first album, titled “Black Beauty,” was released by Dynamic Sounds and State Recording in England. They went on to record for Channel One which resulted in a chain of hits -– “Hard to Confess” (an early Rocksteady song), “That’s Life,” “Thinking” and “Sweat for You Baby,” and also the group’s second album, “Tamlins Greatest Hits.” In 1979, they released “Ting-A-Ling” on the Hawkeye Label in London. “Ting-A-Ling” became a No. 1 hit on the Black Echoes Chart and also made it to the Top 10 of several other charts. Their sweet harmonies were in great demand so they became one of the most respected backup singers in Reggae.
For a number of years they threw their musical weight behind Peter Tosh and accompanied him on international tours. They also backed Jimmy Cliff, John Holt, Delroy Wilson, Pat Kelly and Marcia Griffiths among others. The Tamlins gained wide attention when they recorded "Baltimore" (1979) for Sly and Robbie of Taxi Productions. Baltimore held the No.1 spot in Jamaica for twelve weeks. The song was judged the "Number One Record of the Year" in Jamaica on JBC's "Top 100" for 1980. The group also won the "Best Group Award" from JBC, Radio Jamaica and the Daily News that same year. The group also recorded "Go Away Dream" for the same producers.
In 1986, The Tamlins performed on "Dancehall '86" at Cinema One with Half Pint, Josey Wales and Culture, among others. They not only got a standing ovation, but this was judged the "Best Performance of 1986" at the annual Rockers Awards Show. They also received accolades at Sunsplash '86 and the Taxi Connection Shows that same year. 1987 saw The Tamlins featured on the Freddie Jackson show at the Oceana Hotel. In 1988 The Tamlins released their album, “I'll Be Waiting” on the Live and Learn Label and a second album, “Love Divine” for SKD of Miami. The self-produced single, “Hurt So Good,” was also released that year, to
In the 1990s they toured Japan again with the I-Threes, Admiral Bailey and Tiger. They also toured internationally with Rita Marley as backing vocalists. They have performed at Madison Square Gardens and at many other U.S. venues. One of the high points of The Tamlins' career was performing in an episode of Miami Vice, a U.S. TV show for which they wrote and performed several songs. They were the first Jamaican musical group to have been featured on a top-rated television series. The Tamlins still go on tour to various international Reggae festivals and are in great demand as backup vocalists for new recordings.
Stranger Cole (vocalist & narrator)
Born Wilburn Theodore Cole in 1945 in West Kingston, Jamaica, Stranger Cole earned his nickname “Stranger” early in life because he didn’t resemble anyone else in his family. Stranger was introduced to music through his father, a carpenter, who used to build guitars. His uncle, Gilbert Cole, played guitar with Ernest Ranglin in the 1950s and 1960s. Another uncle, Roy Roach, was a singer in the clubs. His brother,
Leroy Cole, was a popular disc jockey for Duke Reid’s sound systems. “Music was all around me,” says Stranger.
As a young boy, Stranger would listen to the sound systems that were set up on the streets near his home. They played American music. Stranger’s favourites were by Shirley & Lee, a rock-and-roll duo from the 1950s. “One day it occurred to me that I could write songs. So I bought an exercise book and began to write. “ One of Stranger’s first songs, “In and Out the Window,” recorded by Eric ‘Monty’ Morris for Duke Reid became a hit single when Stranger was only 16 years old. The following year, Stranger recorded his first single “When I Call Your Name” with Patsy Todd. That song, and their next one, “You Could Puff, Rough and Tough Until You Buss” became hit records. The musician began his recording career with legendary producer Duke Reid and his Treasure Isle label, scoring a hit with his 1962 debut, "Rough & Tough," a full-tilt Ska number with a wild harmonica solo. His Louis Jordan revival song, "Run Joe," was a hit in 1965, and featured members of The Techniques on harmony vocals. The singer frequently used duet partners, most notably Patsy Todd and Ken Boothe, and later in his career, Gladstone “Gladdy” Anderson (their version of "Just like a River" is one of Coles’ finest songs). Yet Cole developed into a soulful vocalist and his songs radiate a kind of joyful personality that is rare in most Reggae.
The musician parted ways with Reid as the Ska-era waned, becoming an independent recording artist. He made records with several Jamaican producers, including Sonia Pottinger, Lee “Scratch” Perry (such as the wonderful single, "Run Up Your Mouth") and Bunny Lee, before relocating to England in 1971, where he toured extensively.
In 1973 Cole emigrated to Canada where his Uncle Roy Roach had settled. He lived in Toronto and worked as a machine operator. He continued to produce records and released three albums on his own label, “The First Ten Years of Stranger Cole,” (1978) “Captive Land,” (1980) and “The Patriot” (1982).. He eventually opened a record store in Kensington Market in downtown Toronto. He lived in Canada for 15 years and still has his wife and children there.
Cole returned to Jamaica where he lives today. He stills tours Japan, Europe and the US. In 2003, Trojan Records released “Bangarang: The Best of Stranger Cole1962-1972,” a long overdue retrospective of this fine Jamaican singer's career.
David Madden (trumpet palyer)
Trumpet player David Madden is an old Alpha Boy School and past Jamaica Military Band member. Madden has played with and supported everyone from the Skatalites, Lucky Dube, Bounty Killer, Gilbert Gil, Bob Andy, Los Caballeros to Jimmy Cliff. He was a founding member of the legendary reggae jazz band Zap Pow, known for songs like “Mystic Mood,” “This is Reggae,” “Scandal Corner” and “Sweet Loving Love.”
Dawn Penn (vocalist)
Dawn Penn was born as Dawn Pickering, in 1952 in Kingston, Jamaica. Penn was introduced to music at a young age by her father, a ship’s stevedore, who played Spanish tunes on a box guitar. As a girl she sang in a church choir, with the Girl Guides and the Y Choral Group. Her parents gave her piano and organ lessons. Although she didn’t plan on a music career, she followed a friend to Coxone Dodd’s Studio One for an audition. The very first song she recorded, “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)” in 1968, became a hit in Jamaica.
In 1970, Penn left the music industry and moved to the Virgin Islands. In 1987 she returned to Jamaica and to music. She created national hits with Johnny Nash and recorded several singles for the labels Prince Buster, Jackpot and others, securing a position of fame in the musical scene of Jamaica. In the summer of 1992 she was invited to appear on stage at a Studio One anniversary show, where she performed the single "You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)" with Steely & Clevie as backing musicians. The performance was such a great success that she returned to the studio to re-record the song for Steely & Clevie's Studio One tribute album. It was released as a single a year later, topping the charts in the US, Europe and her native Jamaica. “I am still trying to figure out what it was in the song that everyone liked since it’s just two verses,” says Penn. The song’s Rocksteady rhythm and Penn’s delivery added greatly to its international appeal.
Today’s Hip-Hop and R'n'B stars Eve and Rihanna have recorded their own versions of Penn’s songs. "No,No,No" has also been sampled by the artists Kano, Hexstatic, Jae Mills, Lily Allen and Ghostface Killah.Penn released another album titled “Come Again” in 1998 for Trojan Records which features a musical retrospective. Penn still records music and appears on stage. She makes her home in London, England.
Deadley 'Deadly' Bennett (saxophonist)
Headley “Deadly” Bennett, a renowned Jamaican saxophonist, played for the Studio One band as a featured saxophonist. This band was primarily responsible for dozens of the greatest Reggae songs of all time. They backed every great artist of the 1960s and 1970s, including The Wailers, Freddie McGregor, Dennis Brown, and Gregory Isaacs. Headley Bennett received the Order of Distinction from the Government of Jamaica for his contribution to Jamaica music and entertainment.
Bennett’s first solo album, “35 Years from Alpha,” refers to the fact that the album was recorded 35 years after he left Alpha Boys School in Kingston, a school considered by many to be the cradle for instrumental music in Jamaica. It is no coincidence that Bennett, along with fellow alumni Don Drummond, Tommy McCook, Rico Rodriguez and Owen Gray, was a driving force behind Sir Coxson Dodd’s Studio One Band. The original instrumental "Satta Massagana" is an example of how “deadly” Bennett was on the saxophone.
Derrick Morgan (vocalist)
Derrick Morgan was among the classic first wave of Jamaican Ska artists, alongside such pioneers as the Skatalites, Laurel Aitken, Prince Buster and Desmond Dekker. Born in March, 1940, Morgan was raised in the Kingston area and was exposed to a variety of musical sources spanning from New Orleans R & B to the choral music of the nearby church where his father served as deacon. At 17, he took top honours at the annual Vere John's Opportunity Talent Show, delivering blistering renditions of Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally" and "Jenny Jenny." In 1959 he teamed with producer Duke Reid to record his debut single "Lover Boy." Morgan's follow-up, "Fat Man," was a hit throughout Jamaica, and he later scored with recordings of "Leave Earth" and "Wigger Wee Shuffle," both cut with the legendary Clement "Coxsone" Dodd.
By 1960, Morgan was the unrivalled King of Ska. He was the first and only Jamaican artist to date to hold down the top seven slots on the national pop singles chart during the same week, generating a string of smashes including "Be Still," "In My Heart," "Don't Call Me Daddy," "Moon Hop" and "Meekly Wait and Murmur Not." In 1961, he recorded his biggest hit ever, "Housewives' Choice," and a year later -- in celebration of Jamaica's Independence Day -- recorded the first independence song, "Forward March." Morgan and Prince Buster, the two biggest Ska performers of the era, became embroiled in a fierce musical feud which spilled over to their fans.
By 1963 the disputes between the two became so heated that leaders of the newly formed Jamaican government called a cease-fire and brought the two together for publicity photos to bury the hatchet. In 1966, Morgan issued "Tougher than Tough," his first in the Rocksteady genre. He continued to innovate in the years to follow -- among his most enduring contributions were "Went to the Hop" (the first Jamaican song with an electric bass guitar), "Blazing Fire" (the first song to employ an electric piano), "Love Not to Brag" (the first duet with a female artist, Millicent Patsy Todd) and "Seven Letters" (his first Reggae song, produced in collaboration with brother-in-law Bunny Lee). Morgan also produced many of the era's most notable up-and-comers, among them Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Garnet Silk. He still records and performs at Ska revival shows across the world.
Ernest Ranglin (band leader and guitar player)
Ernest Ranglin is the band leader and one of the two guitar players in Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae. Born on June 19th, 1932 in Manchester, Jamaica, Ernest Ranglin is a guitarist whose session work at Studio One helped give birth to the Ska genre in the late 1950s. In the 1960’s he was the studio manager for Federal Recording Studio in Kingston which is now Tuff Gong Studios owned by Bob Marley’s family. Ranglin played on many classic Jamaican recordings and performed with artists such as Jimmy Cliff, Monty Alexander, Prince Buster, The Skatalites and Eric Dean’s Orchestra. Ranglin is often credited with the invention of the core style of guitar play (sometimes known as scratching) found in nearly all Ska music. He is one of a few musicians who have successfully blended jazz and Reggae.
As a child, Ranglin played ukulele and in his teens he took up the guitar. While still in his teens, he performed in Jamaica and in the Bahamas, often with the young Monty Alexander. In 1958 Chris Blackwell recorded a Ranglin single, which was the first Island Records release. In 1964, Ranglin, with Chris Blackwell and singer Millie Small, recorded “My Boy Lollipop” the first Jamaican song to achieve international success.
Ranglin attracted international notice in 1964 when he traveled to London, England to perform at Ronnie Scott’s jazz nightclub. He became the venue’s resident guitarist for nine months, backing numerous guest artists and appearing in a recording of a Sony Stitt/Dick Morrissey jam session in 1966. He made several solo records for Island Records, as well as collaborating with Prince Buster. He returned to session work, arranging songs such as the Melodians’ Rocksteady song “By the Rivers of Babylon” and playing guitar leads in the Wailers’ “It Hurts to Be Alone,” another Rocksteady hit. He also laid the foundation for the rise of the Rocker’s Reggae style.
In the 1970s, Ranglin toured with Jimmy Cliff, and in 1973 he was awarded the Order of Distinction from the Jamaican Government for his contributions to music. He has continued touring and recording all over the world. He signed to Chris Blackwell’s newly-formed Palm Pictures label to issue 1998’s In Search of the Lost Riddim. The albums E.B @ Noon and Modern Answers to Old Problems followed two years later. Grooving was released in early 2001.
Gladstone 'Gladdy' Anderson (pianist)
Pianist, singer and ace session musician, Gladstone "Gladdy" Anderson has been involved in Jamaica’s music scene for nearly 50 years. Born June 18, 1934, in Jones Town on the outskirts of Kingston, Anderson was taught the piano by his uncle, bandleader and session organist Aubrey Adams. It was Adams who introduced the young musician to producer Duke Reid, who immediately installed Gladdy in his stable of Treasure Isle session players.
Over the years, Anderson has worked with Reid, Leslie Kong and virtually all of the notable Jamaican producers. He did his best work for Harry Mudie as the leader of Gladdy's All Stars. His speedy, treble-style piano playing during the Ska era helped define the genre's sound.
Anderson is credited with being the first to call the later slowed down Ska beat "Rocksteady" after a Hopeton Lewis session that yielded the hit "Take It Easy." Although predominantly a piano player, Anderson is also an occasional singer, joining with Stranger Cole (as Stranger and Gladdy) for duets on "We Shall Overcome," "Seeing Is Knowing" and the magnificent "Just Like a River," all of which were popular hits.
The accomplished musician has played on countless sessions, but has also sporadically issued albums of his own, including the beautiful piano and strings masterpiece “It May Sound Silly” in 1972, “Gladdy Unlimited” in 1977, “Sing Songs for Today & Tomorrow” in 1982, “Get Closer” in 1989, and the sublime “Peace Pipe Dub,” recorded at Channel One and released in 1993. He has also produced Roots material for the Rite Sound label.
Glenn Dacosta (tenor saxophonist)
Tenor saxophonist Glen Dacosta has played music with some of the top Jamaican bands, including the Wailers, the Heptones, Lee Perry, Zap Pow, Luciano and Big Youth. In 1970 he joined Zap Pow, a reggae jazz band. Zap Pow was primarily an instrumental configuration, and while its live shows were legendary, it was a crack studio session band. Zap Pow had a minor hit with "The System," and in 1978 it had a massive hit with "This Is Reggae Music" for producer Harry J. Dacosta, with trombonist Vin Gorodn and trumpeter David Madden, were frequently billed as the Zap Pow Horns. They worked with Bob Marley in that capacity for a time. The Rhino compilation called Reggae Rules, which collects singles the band released between 1973 and 1980, is a good starting point to get a sense of this exciting group, which mined a synthesis of reggae, jazz, funk, and soul well before such a concept became fully accepted.
Hopeton Lewis (vocalist)
Born on October 3, 1947 in Trenchtown, Kingston, Hopeton Lewis lost his mother at a young age and grew up in Burnt Savannah, Westmoreland amongst relatives. Lewis attended church every Sunday with his family – and that is where he started singing - at the age of six. He became a regular soloist in church, ushering in a long successful career in the music industry. Several years later, he returned to Kingston to live with his grandparents. By the time he was 15-years-old, both of his grandparents died and Lewis was left to fend for himself. His ambition, zest for life and love for music, inspired Lewis to form his first music group, "The Regals,” when he was 16. Lewis made his first recording at Studio One and went on to become a key player in the evolution of Jamaican popular music.
“I didn’t decide to become a professional singer, “he says. “Singing just took me over. I fell in love with singing and felt that if I didn’t sing, my life would not be worth anything. You give me a microphone and I just sing. That’s the way I am. Music saved my life.” When he moved over to Ken Khouri’s Federal Recording Company (now Tuff Gong Studios), he recorded "Take It Easy" backed by Lynn Taitt & The Jets. The song is credited with starting the Rocksteady era. This is how Lewis tells the story: “The song was written to the popular beat of the time, Ska. But I could not follow the Ska beat - it was too fast. I asked Pianist Gladstone ‘Gladdy’ Anderson to slow it down. Gladdy said ‘This boy here is a Rocksteady.’ The word stuck. The song caught on so fast I couldn’t believe it. Everyone in Jamaica was singing “Take it Easy.” People also fell in love with the bass line which became the new Rocksteady beat.”
Lewis’ second hit was “Sounds and Pressure,” which he followed up with “Boom Shacka Lacka” and “Cool Colley.” It was with “Boom Shacka Lacka” that his solo career took off after the song won the 1970 Festival Song Competition. This award garnered him acclaim as one of Jamacia’s best singers, noted for his rich baritone voice with a delightful mixture of gospel and soul elements. While singing under Byron Lee's Dynamic Sound Label, his album "Grooving out on Life" reached gold status in 1973. He then joined Byron Lee & the Dragonaires band as lead singer and toured with the group for over four years.
In the 80s Lewis started his own label, Bay City Music, and began producing Gospel music, returning to his early religious roots. He lives in New York City and continues to sing and perform today. Lewis also performs “By the Rivers of Babylon” in Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae. This song used to be sung by slaves in the sugar fields and corn fields, according to Lewis. “It is a famous African song about liberation arranged and recorded by Jamaicans,” he says.
Hux Brown (guitarist)
Linsford "Hux" Brown is a master guitarist, born in Trenchtown, Kingston, Jamaica. His muted-string-style of guitar playing makes it seem as if his strings were made of rubber, a style which has been imitated by virtually every Jamaican guitarist to follow him. Hux has played with Paul Simon ("Mother and Child Reunion"), Jimmy Cliff ("The Harder they Come"), Toots and the Maytals, Bob Marley, Delroy Wilson, Johnny Nash and many others. Hux Brown led producer Leslie Kong’s Beverly's Studio band, The Dynamites, and played lead guitar. The band consisted of bass player Jackie Jackson, Winston Grennan, Winston Wright, Gladstone Anderson, Deadly Headley and Lynn Taitt among others. The Dynamites recorded Desmond Dekker's hit song "Israelites," which brought Rocksteady to the United States. Other classic tracks they played include Johnny Nash's "Hold Me Tight," Dave & Ansel Collins' "Double Barrell,” and many hits with Bob Marley and the Wailers.
When Toots Hibbert of Toots & The Maytals was released from prison after serving two years for ganja possession, the Maytals had made Beverly's Studio their new home, beginning a long association with Hux Brown & The Dynamites. After Leslie Kong's death, Hux Brown & The Dynamites moved to Dynamic Studios, where they continued to turn out the hits. The Maytals also went to Dynamic. After Toots & The Maytals were signed to Island Records, The Maytals expanded from being just three singers to including The Dynamites. Hux Brown has since moved to California where he continues to play and make music.
Clifton 'Jackie' Jackson (base guitarist)
Jackie Jackson was a member of Tommy McCook & Supersonics, which was formed after the break-up of The Skatelites in 1965. It featured McCook alongside fellow ex-Skatalites, Johnny Moore and Lloyd Knibb. The group also included trombonist Danny Simpson, Herman Marquis on sax, pianist Gladstone “Gladdy” Anderson, Winston Wright on organ, Jackson on bass and either George Tucker or Ranny 'Bop' Williams on guitar. Shortly after forming, Knibb left to be replaced by Hugh Malcolm, around which time the group became Duke Reid's in-house band at the producer's famed Treasure Isle Studio on Bond Street.
For the next few years, Tommy McCook & The Supersonics help Reid create some of the finest Rocksteady and Reggae sounds to emanate from Jamaica. By the close of the decade, the group disbanded. According to Jackson, Treasure Isle was involved in a 'cold war' for two years with its rivals at Studio One, which was owned by producer Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd.
Judy Mowatt (vocalist)
Judy Mowatt began her career in the music industry as a dancer in a dance group. In 1967 she joined a singing trio called The Gaylettes and recorded her first hit song "Silent River Runs Deep" as well as "I Like Your World" at Studio One. After the group split, she continued as a solo act, later joining Rita Marley and Marcia Griffiths in the trio the I-Threes.
The three singers got together when Marcia Griffiths was performing at a club in New Kingston called the House of Chen and she had asked Rita Marley and Judy Mowatt to sing harmony vocals on "Remember Me" a song by The Supremes. The audience was so enraptured that Bob Marley heard about it. Soon the I-Threes were performing on stage with Marley, who became the most famous Reggae singer in the world. Moving out on her own in 1978, Mowatt teamed with Freddie McGregor to produce the critically acclaimed "Black Woman." The album is a landmark as Judy was the first female Reggae artist to co-produce her own album. In 1982 she followed this with her second solo album "Only A Woman." She was nominated for a Reggae Grammy award.
Mowatt is still very active in the music scene. In 1998 she released her debut gospel album "Love" produced by Claude Evans. In 2000 she released a project called "Soldiers Of Jesus Christ" which featured other Reggae artists who became bornagain Christians. She released "Something Old, Something New" in 2002. This album featured some of her earlier music, as well as new songs and interpretations of traditional church music, including "Many Are Called," and "Strength to Go Through." She also re-worded some of her previous songs to make them more religious. For example, "Hold Them Jah" became "Hold Them Jesus,” and "Sister's Chant" became "Mother's Call."
Ken Booth (vocalist)
Raised in the shanties of Denham Town by a musically talented family, Ken Boothe won his first singing contest at 8-years-old. Since then he has grown to be one of Jamaica’s most successful artists. An accomplished singer, musician, song writer, musical arranger and dancer, Boothe has performed around the world and has garnered international acclaim. Boothe began his professional career in the early 1960s performing in a duo with Stranger Cole, called Stranger & Ken. The pair released such popular titles as “World’s Fair,” “Hush,” and “All Your Friends.” He then went on to record a series of hits with the legendary producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd at Studio One, including the 1966 track “Feel Good.” The following year Boothe and Alton Ellis had a successful UK tour with the group, The Soul Vendors. In 1968, at the age of 17, Booth released his first album “Mr. Rocksteady.” He soon parted ways with Dodd and worked with a series of other producers including Sonia Pottinger, Keith Hudson and Leslie Kong, Bunny Lee and others.
In 1974, under new direction from record producer Lloyd Chalmers, Boothe made it to Number One in the UK Pop Charts with his version of "Everything I Own” which spent four weeks in that coveted position. Boothe’s smooth style gave him a wide appeal and his choice of songs showed the breadth of his musical taste. In 1987, Boy George released his version of “Everything I Own,” which hit Number One. The song has the very rare distinction of twice being a UK chart topper, by two different artists.
In more recent times, Boothe has also recorded for Bunny Lee, Phil Pratt, King Jammy, Pete Weston, Jack Ruby, Hugh "Red Man" James, Castro Brown and Tappa Zukie. In 1995, he teamed up with Shaggy for a new styled version of his old self penned track, "The Train Is Coming," which appeared on the soundtrack of the film, Money Train. The internationally recognized artist lives in Kingston and continues to record songs and perform in concerts today.
Leroy Sibbles (vocalist)
Leroy Sibbles is best known as the lead vocalist of the acclaimed group The Heptones. The Trenchtown-born musician has made an enormous contribution to Jamaican music throughout his career as a bassist, arranger, songwriter and vocalist. In the mid 1960s, when Sibbles was starting out in the music industry, he met Barry Llewellyn and Earl Morgan. They formed The Heptones and recorded their first single for Ken Lack's label Caltone. Although the single was not successful, it garnered the attention of Coxsone Dodd at Studio One. The Heptones had a number of Jamaican hits with Studio One, beginning with "Fattie Fattie," in 1966. Thus began a long run of success for Coxsone and The Heptones, including "Pretty Looks Isn't All," "Get In The Groove," "Be a Man," "Sea of Love" (a cover of the Pat Phillips and the Twilights doo-wop classic), "Ting a Ling," "Party Time" and "I Hold the Handle." The Heptones soon became one of the most prolific and influential groups of the Rocksteady era and were the chief rivals to The Techniques, who recorded for Arthur "Duke" Reid.
Sibbles also played bass on numerous sessions, auditioned acts, and along with Jackie Mittoo, was the chief studio arranger, thus contributing to the legacy of Studio One. Amongst the rhythms featuring his bass skills are Alton Ellis' "I'm Still In Love" and the Abyssinians’ "Satta-a Massagana.” The Heptones remained at Studio One well into the Reggae era, where they cut tunes such as "Message from a Black Man," "Love Won't Come Easy," "I Love You" and a very successful cover of "Suspicious Minds.” The Heptones then went on to record with Harry J, for whom they cut the classics "Country Boy" and "Book of Rules" in 1973. In 1976 the Heptones worked with producer Scott “Harry J” Johnston, coming up with the LPs "Cool Rasta" and "Night Food” which featured new songs and remakes of some of their past Studio One glories.
In 1977, the Heptones returned to work with Lee “Scratch” Perry. They released the album “Party Time,” one of Perry's finest productions, which included a remake of some tunes originally cut at Studio One, including Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released,” along with newer compositions such as "Sufferers' Time.” They released 12 singles with Lee Perry, such as "Mistry Babylon," "Mr. President" (featuring DJ Jah Lloyd) and "Babylon's Falling." Sibbles left the group in 1977 to start a successful solo career, having already cut a solo version of "Love Won't Come Easy" for Augustus Pablo. The singer continues to make music at his studio in Kingston today. He also works as a producer with some of Kingston’s younger rising stars.
Lloyd Parks (bass guitarist)
Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1948, Lloyd Parks has had a lengthy and prolific career as master bass player and singer. From his vocal work in the 1960s to his continued success as a musician, Parks has been in demand for decades. The talented musician began his career in the late 1960s with the band Invincibles (whose members also included Ansell Collins, Sly Dunbar and Ranchie McLean) before teaming up with Wentworth Vernal in The Thermites. In 1967, they recorded their first single "Have Mercy Mr. Percy," and then an album "Do the Rocksteady," for Coxsone Dodd's Studio One label. After recording "Rub Up Push Up" for the Dampa label, Parks and Vernal split up.
Parks then briefly joined The Techniques as a replacement for Pat Kelly, recording tracks such as "Say You Love Me," before embarking on a solo career and later starting his own label, Parks. His second single was the classic "Slaving,” a moving song about the struggles of a working man. As a solo artist, he recorded a number of songs for Prince Tony Robinson, including "Trenchtown Girl," and "You Don't Care.” Some of his best known solo hits include "Officially," "Mafia" (both 1974), "Girl in the Morning," and "Baby Hang up the Phone" (both 1975).
Parks was a studio bass player, backing many of the greatest Reggae artists, including Justin Hinds on Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label. He was a member of Skin Flesh and Bones along with Ansell Collins on keyboards, Tarzan on keyboards, and Ranchie MacLean on guitar. This group backed Al Brown on his hit "Here I am Baby." Parks also worked with many other artists. When Skin Flesh and Bones started playing for the Channel One Studio, Parks renamed the band The Revolutionaries. The musician was also a member of Joe Gibbs' house band, The Professionals, performing hits such as Althea and Donna's "Up Town Top Ranking," and in the 1970s he backed artists including Dennis Brown, the Abyssinians, the Itals, The Gladiators, Culture and Prince Far I. In 1974, he founded the We the People Band, with whom he continues to record and tour with today.
Marcia Griffiths (vocalist)
Marcia Griffiths has been performing and recording for four decades. Highlights of her remarkable career include work as a soloist, as part of a duo with Bob Andy (Bob & Marcia) and as a member of the I-Threes, touring with Bob Marley and the Wailers. As a soloist, her song “Electric Boogie Song” hit the Billboard Charts and created the famous dance, the Electric Slide. Griffiths began singing professionally as a vocalist in 1964, working with Byron Lee and the Dragonaires band. Soon afterwards she began working with Coxsone Dodd at Studio One, where she recorded her first Rocksteady hit "Feel Like Jumping." It was while recording at Studio One that Marcia teamed up with Bob Andy on “Really Together," the first of many duets that the pair would record. Then the pair moved to the Harry J Label, hitting the British and international charts with "Young, Gifted and Black" and "The Pied Piper," and recording two albums of the same titles.
Following that duet success, she went solo again on the High Note label with Reggae's sole established female producer - Sonia Pottinger - with several hit songs including her own original "Stepping Out of Babylon." Next, Griffiths joined forces with Judy Mowatt and Rita Marley forming the I-Threes and touring with Reggae Legend Bob Marley. Today, the talented singer continues to release records and tour, doing her part to spread the sweet message of Reggae music around the world.
Noel 'Scully' Simms (percussionist)
Noel ‘Scully’ Simms is a Ska, Rocksteady and Reggae percussionist and singer. He has enlivened literally hundreds of Rocksteady and Reggae sessions. In the 1960’s and later, he performed in several bands, including The Aggrovators, The Revolutionaries, The Roots Radics, Big Youth, Dillinger and The Heptones. He also played in a backing band for Jimmy Cliff. On recordings, he is credited under many different names, including: Noel "Scully" Simms, Noel "Skully" Simms, Scully, Scully Simms, Skullie, Skully, Skully Simms, Zoot "Scully" Simms, Mikey Spratt, Scollie, Zoot Sims and Skitter.
Sly Dunbar (drummer)
Drummer Lowell Fillmore “Sly” Dunbar, along with bassist Robbie Shakespeare, rose to international prominence as one-half of the duo known simply as Sly & Robbie, widely regarded as Reggae's best and most innovative rhythm section. Together, the duo have lent their rhythmic punch and near-telepathic interplay to some of Reggae's most important sessions, as well as recording their own albums throughout the '80s and '90s, and accepted invitations from rock artists to put in guest appearances at recording sessions. Dunbar has also recorded several solo albums.
Born in 1952, Dunbar had an affinity for the drums from a young age, even constructing his own set out of empty food cans. At age 15, he began playing real drums in his first band, the “Yardbrooms”. After dropping out of school and briefly taking a day job, he decided to concentrate on music full-time. He joined up with Dave & Ansell Collins, who featured the 16-year-old's drumming on their 1969 album“Double Barrell.” After playing with the Mighty Diamonds and U-Roy, Dunbar met bassist Robbie Shakespeare in the early '70s at a recording session headed by producer Bunny Lee. The two discovered an instant empathy and in 1974 formed their own Taxi Records label and began marketing themselves as a production and rhythm section team. Their stature grew quickly, as they were asked to perform with Reggae giants like Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Burning Spear; however, the duo's real break came in 1976, when Peter Tosh featured their rhythm work on “Legalize It” and made them part of his touring band two years later. The increased exposure spelled success for Dunbar’s and Shakespeare' s careers as producers, musicians, and label heads, as Taxi released a number of important recordings, with Sly & Robbie as backing musicians.
Dunbar released the solo LPs “Simply Sly Man” in 1976 and “Sly, Wicked and Slick” in 1977. The first official Sly & Robbie release came in 1981 with “Sly and Robbie Present Taxi”, which was followed the next year by Dunbar's final solo album to date, “Sly-Go-Ville”. A bevy of albums, some released only in Jamaica, followed; most notable among those are “Rhythm Killers” (1987) and “Dubs for Tubs: A Tribute to King Tubby” (1990), which demonstrated the pair's 1980s shift from traditional Reggae into dub.
Session work for others continued during the decade as well, most notably with Black Uhuru and pop and rock artists like Grace Jones, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, and Herbie Hancock. In the 1990s, Dunbar and Shakespeare shifted their focus to Dancehall music in the effort to bring Reggae back to its former state of overseas popularity. They also worked with American rap artists on albums such as “Silent Assassin”. In 1997 Dunbar produced the chart-topping single “Dancehall Queen” for Beenie Man.
Bongo Herman (percussionist)
Bongo Herman (born Herman Davis) has played percussions on hundreds of Rocksteady and Reggae records. He started recording in 1969 with Les Davis as the duo Bongo & Les. In the 1970’s Herman formed the duo Bongo Herman & Bingy Bunny. They achieved success with songs such as “Chairman of the Board,” “Know Fari,” “Feel Nice” and “Tribute to the President.” Herman is also a Nyahbinghi drummer. Nyahbinghi music is the music played at Rastafarian meetings or 'grounations', and is based around a style of relentless drumming and chanting. Sometimes a guitar or horns are used. The drumming, which usually involves three hand drums of different sizes (the bass, the funde and the repeater), exercised an influence on early recorded Jamaican music – the Folks Brothers' 1960 hit, "Oh Carolina," for instance. Herman’s recent album releases are “Abyssinians and Friends – Tree of Satta” (2004).
Rita Marley was born in Trenchtown to a Jamaican father and Cuban mother. Her given name was Alvarita Constancia Anderson. Her father, Leroy Anderson, was a musician who played the tenor sax, alto sax, the drums and the bass. Her mother, Cynthia Jarrett, and her aunts, were singers in the church choir. “My auntie was a dress maker. While she sewed she would sing. I would sit by her side on a bench and she would teach me about harmonies, leads and solos, sopranos and alto. She taught me how to make harmonies sweet. This is why I love to be a harmonizing singer, “she says.
Rita met Bob Marley when they were both teenagers. Bob was already singing under the name of Robert Nesta Marley with his group, the Wailers. The band lived in Trenchtown, and Rita would watch them pass in front of her house as they travelled around the community. Soon she was coming to the tenement yard where Marley and his band rehearsed. Rita recalls: “Bob spent most of his time at the tenement yard where his friend Ta Ta lived. All his friends from Third Street, Fourth Street, and and Fifth Street would gather here and this is where the music played. The fire would burn and they would cook cornmeal porridge or rice with coconut milk. The pot would feed everyone. Children would come to eat because they were hungry... I spent a lot of time here myself…We didn’t have much but we were happy. ..We would sometimes go to bed hungry but the love sustained us … Poverty was our story.” Rita, her cousin Constantine ‘Dream’ Walker and Marlene 'Precious' Gifford started singing in clubs, concerts and beach parties as the vocal trio The Soulettes before she recorded professionally. “One day Bob invited us to Coxsone’s Studio One where he was working and said we sounded good, and that we should start recording,” Marley recalls. The Soulettes recorded ‘I Love You Baby’ with Rocksteady singer Delroy Wilson singing harmonies.
“Studio One was like Motown where we would gather in the morning and we didn’t leave until the next morning. It was like a home and university for us. We would work and rehearse all day. In addition to Bob, Peter and Bunny, other singers there were Joe Higgs, the Paragons and Delroy Wilson… We didn’t get paid. It wasn’t a money thing. It was about doing a record and trying to get it heard on the radio. We wanted our message out there,” she says. Rita and Bob married in 1966 and lived in Trenchtown. “Most talented musicians in Jamaica came through Trenchtown,” she says. “We were surrounded by poverty. Our vocals got very beseeching. We were singing from our hearts. We were singing about how we were feeling. We weren’t singing another man’s song, we were singing our song. The life we lived was our everyday music.”
Marley met Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt in the late 1960’s. Marley recounts: “Marcia had a concert at a club in New Kingston and she invited Judy and me to sing backup for her. We got such applause that we decided to combine our voices... Then in 1974, when Bunny and Peter left the Wailers, Bob asked us to sing back up. .. The next thing we knew, we had a hit and we were going on tour. We were happy but not ready for touring because we each had young children… But then, because Bob was so sincere, so giving; we saw his dream of making music to reach the world. We were singing about ‘One Love, One Heart’; ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ and so on…So we decided to be ministers through our music. Our music wasn’t for dancing only. Our intention was to get a message across to the world. So that’s what we did.”
Robbie Lyn (pianist)
Robbie Lyn has created rich harmonic music for various artists in a career that spans more than three decades as a keyboardist, composer and arranger. Lyn was a member of Peter Tosh's Word, Sound and Power backing band for six years and participated in the historic One Love Peace Concert on April 22, 1978 at the National Stadium in Kingston. This concert was held during a political civil war in Jamaica between the opposing Jamaican Labour Party and the People’s National Part. The concert came to its peak during Bob Marley & The Wailers’ performance of "Jammin,” when Marley joined the hands of political rivals Michael Manley (PNP) and Edward Seaga (JLP).
Recently Lyn released the instrumental album, “Making Notes,” featuring such topclass musicians such as Glen and Dalton Browne, Robert Browne, Sly Dunbar, Dwight Pinkney, Cat Coore, Mikey Chung, Dean Fraser, the late Errol Hird, Everald Gayle, Nambo Robinson, David Madden, Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, Chico Chin and Uziah ‘Sticky’ Thompson on percussion, with Pam Hall and Nadine Sutherland providing harmony. When Lyn is not performing on a Jamaican live TV show such as Startime, he is on tour in the Caribbean, Europe, the US and Japan.
Calvin 'Bubbles' Cameron (trombonist)
Calvin “Bubbles” Cameron is a well-known trombonist who has been making Ska, Rocksteady and Reggae music for four decades. He played trombone for Tommy McCook's Supersonics, Count Ossie's Mystic Revelation, The Light of Saba, and The Skatalites. Cameron has worked on more than 25 record albums featuring his trombone playing among them “Liberation Ska,” "Light of Saba," "United Africa" and most recently “Wareika Hill Sounds.” The latter album is also known for its Nyahbinghi drumming.
Born in 1942 in Jonestone, Jamaica, Ewart “U-Roy” Beckford has become one of the island’s most recognized and loved DJs. Although he wasn’t the first DJ or even the first DJ to cut a record, U-Roy originated a style so unique he changed Jamaica’s music scene forever. U-Roy's musical career began in 1961 when he started deejaying at various sound systems, including a stint operating Sir “Coxsone” Dodd's Number Two set, while King Stitt "The Ugly One" ran the main set. In the late 1960s he began to work with King Tubby, at Duke Reid's Sound System. Tubby was then experimenting with his equipment and in the process invented Dub music. With U-Roy as his most prominent deejay and with access to some of the Treasure Isle Studios finest Rocksteady rhythms, King Tubby's new sound became extraordinarily popular, and U-Roy became a Jamaican celebrity. He recorded “Dynamic Fashion Way,” his first successful recording in 1969 for Keith Hudson
U-Roy then worked with almost every producer on the island: Lee Perry, Peter Tosh, Bunny Lee, Phil Pratt, Sonia Pottinger, Rupie Edwards, Alvin Ranglin, Lloyd Daley and Duke Reid. U-Roy's fame grew through a series of singles, including "Wake the Town" and "Wear You to the Ball.” U-Roy developed a unique style of chatter over the tracks which, taken to New York, was adapted by American blacks and called Rap. U-Roy's success continued with the album “Dread in a Babylon,” produced by “Prince” Tony Robinson.
By the early 1980s, U-Roy had become one of the island's biggest stars garnering significant acclaim in the UK, where he worked with UK producer Mad Professor and artists such as Yabby You, Aisha, Sandra Cross and Susan Cadogen. U-Roy was awarded the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer by the Jamaican Government on October 15, 2007.