Prince Buster Obituary

It was boxing ability as much as musical talent that helped Prince Buster become a key figure in the birth of Jamaican ska music. During the mid-1950s Buster, who has died aged 78, sang in a number of small-time bands in the island’s capital, Kingston. But he also had a promising career as a street fighting boxer, and it was his reputation as a quick-witted and assertive gang leader that brought him to the attention of the legendary Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, operator of the famous Continue reading →

Felix Bennett Has Passed Away

Felix “Deadly Headley” Bennett, a prolific saxophonist who played on Bob Marley’s first song, died on Sunday at age 85. His daughter, Carol Bennett, said he passed away at home in Rollington Town, East Kingston. He had suffered from hypertension for years and was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. Born in Central Kingston, Bennett learned music at the Alpha Boys School. Leaving after 12 years at age 16, he played in several bands and was an established session musician by the early 1960s. He was Continue reading →

The Music Diaries: Early Jamaican Record Producers Played Vital Role

Whenever the title ‘Record Producer’ is mentioned in early Jamaican music, the names that comes most readily to mind are Clement Dodd of Studio 1, Duke Reid of Treasure Isle Studios, Leslie Kong and his Beverley’s records label, Prince Buster and his ‘Voice of the people’ label, Bunny Lee who distributed his productions on ‘Striker’ and other labels, and Sonia Pottinger, the only female in that business at the time. She distributed her productions mainly under the ‘Gay Feet’, ‘Hi-Note’, ‘Tip Top’ and ‘Glory’ labels. Continue reading →

Winston ‘Merritone’ Blake, Jamaican Sound System Pioneer, Dead at 75

Billboard Magazine, 3/1/2016 by Patricia Meschino Winston “Merritone” Blake, the venerated Jamaican musicologist, producer, and owner/operator of Merritone Music, succumbed to complications from asthma on Feb. 27 at a Kingston hospital. He was 75. Merritone is Jamaica’s oldest continually operational sound system, founded in 1950, prior to the emergence of the island’s indigenous popular music forms and its prolific recording industry. “We were here before reggae, when R&B records were played alongside calypso, mento and country and western, that’s what filled Jamaica’s dance floors back then,” Blake reminisced Continue reading →

The Mighty Diamonds Bring Soulful Harmony To The 70s

By Roy Black, Sunday September 25th, 2015 The Mighty Diamonds belong to an exclusive fraternity of three-part harmony group singers that emerged in the mid-1960s in Jamaican popular music and lasted into the next decade. Earlier, The Heptones, The Techniques, The Paragons, The Melodians, The Wailers, and The Gaylads had laid the foundation for the phenomenon, which produced a plethora of hits, mainly in the rocksteady and early reggae styles. Those who were around at the time and close to the action will well remember Continue reading →

Farewell, man from Wareika

BY Howard Campbell Observer senior writer TROMBONIST Rico Rodriquez, who died September 4 in London at age 80, was a versatile musician who made an impact in Jamaica and the United Kingdom where he lived for over 45 years. The Kingston born musician played on a number of ground breaking songs in both countries. These include Oh Carolina by the Ffolkes Brothers, Prince Buster’s Wash Wash, and Rudy A Message to You, a big hit in England in 1967 for Jamaican singer Dandy Livingston. Rodriquez, who attended Continue reading →

Thom Bell: No longer silent in Gamble-Huff legacy

By Dan DeLuca, Inquirer Music Critic POSTED: June 10, 2013 ‘Gamble-Huff-Bell Music.” The first two names listed on the sign above the doorway at the Philadelphia International Records offices at 309 S. Broad St. are those most closely associated with the sophisticated soul music that became universally known as “The Sound of Philadelphia” in the late 1960s and early 1970s. But there were more than two major players writing the Philadelphia chapter in the great American soul-music history books. Along with Philadelphia International Records owners Continue reading →

Long Live The King

R&B and soul singer Ben E King, best known for the classic song Stand By Me, has died at the age of 76. The singer died on Thursday, April 30 his publicist Phil Brown told BBC News. King started his career in the late 1950s with The Drifters, singing hits including There Goes My Baby and Save The Last Dance For Me. After going solo, he hit the US top five with Stand By Me in 1961. It returned to the charts in the 1980s, including a three-week Continue reading →

Percy Sledge, the R&B singer whose soulful ballad of eternal love and rejection, “When a Man Loves a Woman,” topped the charts in 1966, died on Tuesday in Baton Rouge, La. He was 74. His death was confirmed by Artists International Management, which represented him. Mr. Sledge had liver cancer, for which he underwent surgery in 2014, Mark Lyman, his agent and manager, said. Mr. Sledge, sometimes called the King of Slow Soul, was a sentimental crooner and one of the South’s first soul stars, Continue reading →

Mickey and Sylvia, Sweethearts of the Blues

Published in The Gleaner: Sunday, March 8, 2015 For one brief moment, Mickey & Sylvia were the superstars of 1950s rock and roll music. Like Shirley and Lee from that same era, they portrayed the ‘sweethearts of the blues’ image with their mid-song romantic dialogues and Mickey’s excellent guitar solos. The two components became regular features of the duo’s recordings, providing the spice that made their songs some of the sweetest to emerge from the rhythm and blues and rock and roll scenes of the Continue reading →