In addition to the iconic Toots Hibbert and the legendary Bob Andy, the year 2020 has seen the passing of 11 other veterans in the Jamaican music fraternity, ranging from producers to songwriters and artistes, who were stalwarts and pioneers in Reggae and Dancehall.
Three of the deaths are attributed to complications involving COVID-19.
Regarded as a pioneer, Toots, who died on September 11, at age 77, was credited for officially coining the word Reggae as his band Toots and the Maytals’ 1968 single Do the Reggay, was the first-ever to use the term, which officially gave the genre an identification.
The singer, who had the distinction of scoring 31 number-one singles in Jamaica, was named one of the 100 Greatest Singers of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2010. He is responsible for penning some of the biggest hits in reggae history, including Pressure Drop, Sweet And Dandy, 54-46 and Beautiful Woman as well as Monkey Man, his group’s first international hit back in 1970.
Toots and his band were the first winners of Jamaica’s National Festival Song Competition in 1966. He was the writer, arranger, composer, singer, and the producer of the winning song Bam Bam, which has been sampled or fully covered by 79 solo artists and groups, including Kanye West, Lauryn Hill, and Jay Z.
His compatriot, Bob Andy, was one of Jamaica’s greatest reggae music composers and singers. Born Keith Anderson, he penned hits such as I’ve Got to Go Back Home, in 1967 Fire Burning, Too Experienced, My Time, and the Marcia Griffiths collab Really Together. He also composed songs for other reggae artistes, including and Feel Like Jumping, Truly, and Melody Life for Marcia Griffiths, and I Don’t Want to See You Cry for Ken Boothe.
In 2006 the Government of Jamaica bestowed Andy with the Order of Distinction in for his contributions to the development of Jamaican music. He was also presented with the Living Legend of Reggae Music Award at the Sumfest Inspire Awards in 2018. Bob Andy died in Stony Hill St. Andrew on March 27. He was 75 years old.
Some of the other artistes and producers who are resting in Zion, might not be well-known by today’s generation, as they became obscure after their careers peaked, but in their heydays, were bastions on the music scene.
The remaining eleven are:
Pad Anthony whose given name was Hartley Anthony Wallace, was a son of Payne Land in Kingston.
Among his hits are Shake Them Down, which was produced by Bobby Digital, and Who Have The Title, produced by Steely and Clevie, which is one of the biggest classics in Jamaican sound clashes.
Another of his huge hits was Ah Murder, which was recorded for King Jammys. His other popular singles include Champion Bubbler, Cry for Me on the Sleng Teng Rhythm, and Mi no inna it.
Pad Anthony died at the Kingston Public Hospital on August 28, at age 57.
Also known as Digital B, Bobby ‘Bobby Digital’ Dixon died in May at age 59 from a kidney-related illness. Digital B, who hailed from Olympic Gardens in Kingston, had an illustrious career spanning the genres of Dancehall, lovers rock, and roots reggae.
He was the mastermind behind Sizzla’s classic track Black Woman And Child, and his Da Real Thing album in 2000; Shabba Ranks’ Peenie Peenie, Just Reality, Live Blanket, and Wicked In A Bed, Admiral Tibet’s Serious Time, and Garnet Silk’s My Love Is Growing.
He also produced Morgan Heritage’s Dont Haffi Dread single and album, as well as some of Tony Rebel’s greatest hits such as Teach the Children, Sweet Jamaica, and Dog deh yah more than bone. As a sound engineer at King Jammys, Digital B was behind Frankie Paul’s I Know The Score and Sara, Pinchers’ Denise; and Admiral Bailey’s Jump Up. He also has production credits on Shabba Ranks 1992 Grammy-winning’ album As Raw As Ever.
Norris Reid, who died on February 28, had an extensive career as a vocalist with The Blenders, The Viceroys, and The SWAMMP Band before stepping off on his own as a solo artiste, releasing songs such as Roots And Vine and Give Jah The Praises.
Whilst a member of The Viceroys, he released We Must Unite and Brethren And Sistren and Heart Made Of Stone, which was produced by the legendary Sly and Robbie.
Reid was born in Falmouth, Trelawny. He started his professional music career in 1975 when he recorded his debut single I Know, and later followed up with Poverty and Got to Return on Errol Cuffe’s The Ram label. He also worked as graphic designer, drawing record labels and flyers for sound systems.
Apple Gabriel, whose given name was Albert Craig, was an original member of Israel Vibration, one of roots-reggae’s leading groups, responsible for giving the world songs such as their breakout hit The Same Song, Strength And my Life, and Rudeboy Shufflin’.
Craig, who left Israel Vibration in 1997, went on to record three solo albums, including Another Moses, which was released in 1999. He died on March 23 in the United States at the age of 65.
Singer Delroy Washington, who died on March 27 in a London hospital, was credited with helping to nurture roots-reggae in Britain. He was born in Westmoreland in 1952 and migrated to the UK in the early 1960s.
His releases included Lonely Street and Give All The Praise to Jah, which were released by Virgin Records, for which he also recorded two albums: I Sus in 1976 and Rasta in 1977. Washington was said to be instrumental in the placement of Blue Heritage Plaques at homes in the UK where Bob Marley and Dennis Brown temporarily resided.
A former member of The Heptones, Dolphin “Naggo” Morris, died from cancer on May 17 at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, St James. He was 72 years old.
Naggo was born in St. Mary. He joined The Heptones in 1975, the group responsible for songs such as Better Days and Street of Gold. His first official song with the Heptones was Everyday Life. Morris was the lead vocalist on recordings such as Holy Mount Zion, Key to Her Heart, and No Bread on my Table.
Judah Eskender Tafari
Judah, who was afflicted with cancer, died in June at age 62, a month before his 63rd birthday, after ailing for some time.
Born Ronald William Merrills in Kingston, the vocalist and musician was a member of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. His music career started in 1978 at Studio One, where he recorded classics such as Jah Light and Rastafari Tell You.
Lara, who was a member of The Tamlins, died on February 13, at age 61 in Miami, Florida. He had been diagnosed with stage four cancer.
Described as having an ‘amazing falsetto’, Lara joined The Tamlins in 1983 where he served as a drummer and singer. Prior to joining The Tamlins, he recorded with artistes such as Beres Hammond and Everton Blender. As a soloist, he released albums such as Reality, Right on Time, Motherless Child, and Just a Vibes, a collab with Beres Hammond in 1991.
JUNIOR MOORE & CARLTON SMITH OF THE TAMLINS GETTING READY TO CARRY DERRICK LARA TO HIS FINAL RESTING PLACE, KINGSTON
Posted by The Tamlins on Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Dobby Dobson died at a hospital in Florida on July 21, from COVID-19, two weeks after he celebrated his 78th birthday. Born Highland Ralph Dobson, he was best known for his hit single The Loving Pauper.
Dobson started singing in the early 1950s and recorded hit songs such as That Wonderful Sound, which sold more than 40,000 copies in the Caribbean in 1971, Mexican Divorce, and Endlessly. Among his albums are Sweet Dreams, If Only I Had Time, and God Bless Our Love.
He migrated to the United States in 1979, and in August 2011, was conferred with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer (OD) for his contribution to reggae music and Jamaican culture.
Deejay Purpleman, died on August 14 at the Kingston Public Hospital at age 58 from heart-related ailments.
A member of producer Henry “Junjo” Lawes’ Volcano Records camp in the 1980s, Purpleman, whose given name was Anthony Jones, joined Volcano, when it was led by fellow albino Yellowman.
His recordings include In Heaven there is no Beer, Every man do a ting, Trod Along, and A Murder we Charge for. A son of Clones district in Manchester, Purple Man was a regular feature at dances in Waterhouse in the late 1970s, where he performed mainly for King Jammys, Lee’s Unlimited, and Jack Ruby sound systems.
A pioneer in Jamaican music, singer Millie Small died on May 5 after a stroke at the age of 72. Small was born in Clarendon, Jamaica, and was just 12-years old when she graced a stage for the first time after she won the Vere Johns Opportunity Hour singing contest.
A statement from her family indicated that she did not suffer and “passed away peacefully in London yesterday after having been taken ill at the weekend.” It further stated: “Millie Small was a true original, a wonderful human being and will be dearly missed by everyone.”
In 1964, Small released what would become her most famous hit, an Ernest Ranglin rearrangement of the 1956 song My Boy Lollipop, which peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100.