Reggae Greats

Arthur “Duke” Reid

(1915 – 1975) was a Jamaican record producer and label owner. He ran one of the most popular sound systems of the 1950s called Duke Reid’s the Trojan after the British-made trucks used to transport the equipment. In the 1960s, Reid founded record label Treasure Isle, named after his liquor store, that produced ska and rocksteady music.

He dominated the Jamaican music scene of the 1960s, specialising in ska and rock-steady, though his love of American jazz, blues and soul was always in evidence. Reid had several things going for him that helped him to rise to prominence. He made a concerted effort to be in the studio as much as possible, something his counterparts did not do. He was known as a perfectionist and had a knack for adding symphonic sounds to his recordings and producing dense arrangements. Furthermore, his records were considerably longer than those being produced by his rivals. His tunes often broke the four-minute barrier, while most ska songs were barely longer than two minutes. The material that Treasure Island issued exemplified the cool and elegant feel of the rocksteady era.

U-Roy

U-Roy (born Ewart Beckford, 21 September 1942) is a Jamaican vocalist also known as The Originator. He is best known as a pioneer of toasting or deejay.

Born in Jones Town, Jamaica, U-Roy’s musical career began in 1961 when he began deejaying at various sound systems. This included a stint operating Sir Coxsone Dodd’s Number Two set, while King Stitt “The Ugly One” ran the main set. U-Roy eventually worked with King Tubby at Duke Reid’s Sound System in the late 1960s. Around this period, King Tubby had started to experiment with his studio equipment in an attempt to create new effects and sounds, which would eventually lead to a new style of reggae called dub music. With U-Roy as his most prominent deejay and with access to some of Treasure Isle Studios’ finest rocksteady rhythms, King Tubby’s new sound became extraordinarily popular and U-Roy became a local celebrity. However, his first single – “Earth’s Rightful Ruler” – was not a King Tubby collaboration; it was recorded with Peter Tosh for Lee “Scratch” Perry.

U-Roy had become one of Jamaica’s biggest stars by the early 1980s, also garnering significant acclaim in the United Kingdom.

Prince Buster

Cecil Bustamente Campbell, (born 28 May 1938), usually known as Prince Buster, and also having the Muslim name Muhammed Yusef Ali, is a musician from Kingston, Jamaica. He is regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of ska and rocksteady music. The records he made on the Blue Beat label in the 1960s inspired many reggae and ska artists.

In 1960, Buster produced a record for the Folkes Brothers for the Wild Bells label, “Oh Carolina”, under his nickname. Buster dubbed himself ‘The Voice of the People’, and gave a voice to those people with “Oh Carolina”, which expressed black Jamaicans through a commercially successful medium. This record was Jamaica’s first to involve an element of African music – the drumming in the record was provided by Count Ossie, the lead nyabinghi drummer from the rastafarian camp, Camp David, in the hills above Kingston. It was an instant hit in Jamaica, and Buster’s early records, which were released in the UK by Blue Beat Records, contributed greatly to the developing sound of ska. Buster was soon recording his own compositions as well as producing records for others.

Count Ossie

Count Ossie, born Oswald Williams (1926, St. Thomas, Jamaica – 18 October 1976) was a Jamaican drummer and band leader.

As a young boy Ossie grew up in a rasta community where he learned techniques of vocal chanting and hand drumming under the tutelage of Brother Job. In the early 1950s he set up a Rasta community in Rockfort on the east side of Kingston, where many of Kingston’s musicians learned about the Rastafari movement. In the late 1950s, he (with other percussionists) formed the Count Ossie Group. His first sound recordings were made after meeting Prince Buster. One of those was a song by the Folkes Brothers, “Oh Carolina”, regarded by some music historians as the first-ever ska record. During this period Count Ossie also recorded for Harry Mudie.

He formed a group called “Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari” and during his life issued two albums that he recorded with them. His masterpiece was the Grounation three-LP set (1973), which includes songs such as “Oh Carolina”, “So Long”, and “Grounation” (the latter title with over 30 minutes running time).

wikipedia