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Old 02-01-2014, 03:21 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Johnny Nash- Reggae Music's American Connection


Johnny Nash & Bob Marley performing together at the Peckham Manor Boy's School, London in 1972.

It's hard to believe that a guy from Houston Texas who signed the Cowsills to his record label was also the first guy to bring reggae music to the ears of an American audience.

Most Americans first encountered reggae music with a series of Top 40 radio hits by a young R&B singer from Houston Texas named Johnny Nash. In the early Sixties, Johnny Nash was a moderately successful soul singer on the chittlin' circuit in United States.

Johnny Nash also signed the teenbopper family band, the Cowsills his own record label and produced an album by them. The Cowsills moved on to MGM Records, recorded their mega-hit The Rain, The Park and Other Things & served as the inspiration for the television series about a family band, The Partridge Family.

Following a visit to Jamaica in 1968, Nash decided to be the first artist to bring rocksteady and reggae music to the United States.

While in Jamaica, Nash was introduced to a trio of struggling reggae singers named Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer & Peter Tosh. Nash signed Marley, Tosh and Wailer to JAD Records label, and recorded two unsuccessful singles, Bend Down Low & Reggae on Broadway.

I Can See Clearly- Johnny Nash- Nash himself had better luck on the charts than the aspiring Wailers. In 1972 Nash wrote and recorded his own reggae styled song, I Can See Clearly Now which rose to #1 on the American charts & #5 on the UK charts. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in November 1972. Ironically I Can See Clearly Now sold more copies than any single ever recorded by the Wailers, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh or Bunny Wailer.



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Hold Me Tight- Johnny Nash- Following the success of I Can See Clearly Now, Nash re-released a single, Hold Me Tight which was originally released in 1968 in his earliest recording sessions in Jamaica. It rose to #5 both on the American & UK singles charts.



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Stir It Up- Johnny Nash- After Hold Me Tight, Nash released his own cover of the Bob Marley song, Stir It Up, which rose to #12 on the American charts & #13 on the UK charts.



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It was the rapid succession of those three reggae styled Top 40 hits that got both American & UK record label executives interested in scouting the burgeoning reggae scene in Jamaica for new artists. There was a feeding frenzy of reggae artist signings by American & UK labels over the next few years, but none of those artists except Marley & Tosh, were as successful as Johnny Nash. Johnny Nash retired from music in the Eighties and has been intensely guarded about his privacy every since. It's too bad Nash remains silent because he was one of the earliest witnesses to the rise of reggae music and he's never spoken to anyone about his involvement in bringing reggae music to the United States.
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Old 02-01-2014, 03:58 AM   #32 (permalink)
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The History Behind A Classic Reggae Song

1865 (96 Degrees in the Shade) by Third World

The Third World song 96 Degrees in the Shade is a retelling the events of the October 1865 Morant Bay rebellion that involved two people who were later to become national heroes of Jamaica, George William Gordon and Paul Bogle.


A lithograph depicting the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865

With the passage of the Emancipation Act slavery ended in Jamaica on August 1, 1834. On paper, former slaves gained the right to vote; however the British colonists had laws that that suppressed the voting rights of former slaves, similar to American Jim Crow laws which levied poll taxes and institutionalized voter literacy tests for all black voters. Only 0.0005% 2000 of eligible Jamaica's 400,000 freed slaves vote in the 1838 national election. The white colonial minority ran Jamaica by default.

George William Gordon a wealthy mulatto member of the Jamaican National Assembly, was the son of a black slave woman and a wealthy British plantation owner. Gordon's father, like many other British colonial elites lived most of the time in England sired second surrogate families with native Jamaican women, unknown to their families back in Britain. George William Gordon was his father's common law heir under Jamaican law.

George William Gordon was considered a troublemaker by Edward Eyre, the newly appointed colonial governor of Jamaica because Gordon's high profile activities on behalf of disenfranchised newly freed slaves. Gordon had assisted a group of former slaves draw up and circulate a petition to Queen Victoria asking her to bequeath a small amount Crown owned land in the bush of St. Ann's Parish for the local landless farmer to cultivate as they could not find land for themselves. At least, the Queen's worthless land would produce some tax income for the Crown and provide a means of living to many wretchedly poor Jamaican citizens who had no other means of survival.

For the newly installed British colonial governor Eyre, it was unthinkable that a group of uppity "maroon negroes" would have the comeuppance ask Queen Victoria's permission to cultivate a few hundred acres of the vacant undeveloped land in a remote colonial town 4000 miles from Buckingham Palace. Eyre immediately regarded the charismatic mulatto legislator as a political enemy with a subversive agenda.

On October 7, 1865 a black man was put on trial and imprisoned for trespassing on a long-abandoned plantation, creating anger among black Jamaicans. The black man was nothing more than a squatter using part of the property of an abandoned plantation to plant a subsistence crop for his family's needs. When one member of a group of black protesters from the village of Stony Gut was arrested, the protesters became unruly and broke the accused man from prison.


George William Gordon, the mulatto plantation owner & co-conspirator in the Morant Bay Rebellion.

Governor Eyres and the local constabulary falsely suspected that George William Gordon and one of his protégés, Paul Bogel a deacon at a local black Baptist church, were the key organizers of the protest and the subsequent prison break. Paul Bogle soon learned that he and 27 of associates had warrants issued for their arrest for rioting, resisting arrest, and assaulting the police.


Paul Bogle the black Baptist deacon who was executed as the leader of the Morant Bay Rebellion.

The historical record doesn't confirm whether either Gordon or Bogle were involved in any of the events up to that point but it's likely that Gordon wasn't involved and Bogel probably was. It's an indisputable fact that Bogel was firmly in command of a large contingency of protesters who marched on the Morant Bay courthouse, four days later.

When the group arrived at the Morant Bay court house, they were met by a small volunteer militia (ie.. vigilantes) who panicked and opened fire on the group, killing seven black protesters before retreating. The black protesters then rioted, killing 18 people (including white officials and militia) and taking control of the town. In the days that followed some 2,000 black rebels roamed the countryside, killing two white planters and forcing others to flee for their lives.

Governor John Eyre sent government troops to hunt down the poorly-armed rebels and bring Paul Bogle back to Morant Bay for trial. The troops were met with no organized resistance but killed blacks indiscriminately, many of whom had not been involved in the riot or rebellion: according to one soldier, "we slaughtered all before us… man or woman or child".

In the end, 439 black Jamaicans were killed directly by soldiers, and 354 more (including Paul Bogle) were arrested and later executed, some without proper trials. Other punishments included flogging for over 600 men and women (including some pregnant women), and long prison sentences. Bogle was lynched and hung without a trial, moments after the British troops took him into custody.

Gordon, who had little - if anything - to do with the rebellion was also arrested. Though he was arrested in Kingston, he was transferred by Eyre to Morant Bay, where he could be tried under martial law.

Ever the politician, Governer Eyre saw a public hanging of Gordon as a high profile opportunity to assert his authority as the newly appointed governor of Jamaica. A kangaroo court convicted George William Gordon of sedition and treason in two days, but Gordon wasn't informed of his sentence until an hour before his hanging.

Gordon was paraded through the streets of Morant Bay and led to the his hanging by a contingency of 10 thousand soldiers. And presiding over the surreal and carnivalesque events was none other than the portly Governor Edward Eyre dressed like a British dandy attending a night at the opera.

People from all over the island attended the grotesque spectacle and the narrator of the story in the song, 96 Degrees in the Shade is none other than the condemned man, George William Gordon. The lyrics to the song are very close to the same final words of Gordon as he stood before the Governor. Gordon even began his remarks with a polite remark about the stifling humidity of the October day.

The lyrics to the 96 Degrees in the Shade are included in this embedded video:




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George William Gordon issued final prophecy, faithfully spoken in lyrics of 96 Degrees in the Shade. Bogel's final defiant words to Governor Eyre were: "Today I stand here a victim but the truth is I'll never die ." And Bogel's final words came to pass. His courage made him immortal in Jamaican history.

Shortly after the hanging of Gordon, Jamaican governor Edward Eyre was recalled back to England and following an investigation was fired by the Queen's Colonial Office. Today a statue of George William Gordon in memory of his contributions and martyrdom stands in front of the very Morant Bay court house where he was placed on trial in 1850.



The courthouse in Morant Bay where the rebelllion began and the court where George William Gordon was placed on trial. In front of the building is a statue honoring George William Gordon as a national hero..
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Old 02-04-2014, 12:42 PM   #33 (permalink)
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What a great thread, Gavin. The reggae/ska forum has always been a much ignored area of MB, which has been quite disappointing to the handful of us Jamaican music fans that are on here. It's about time that someone stepped up in the way that you have. Keep it up.
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Old 02-04-2014, 12:59 PM   #34 (permalink)
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[QUOTE=rostasi;1413424]Jah works in mysterious ways:
your last post is with Third World
and Bunny Rugs died the next day.

®ř∂

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Give thanks and praise for Bunny's long career with Third World. He also played with the crucial reggae group, Inner Circle.

Bunny Rugs is now in the ever-present glory of Jah.
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Old 02-05-2014, 03:24 AM   #35 (permalink)
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Three 60s SKA & Bluebeat Songs Resurrected in the 80s Ska Revival


Rudy, A Message to You -Dandy Livingstone- Dandy's song was notably covered by the U.K.'s Specials in their self titled 1979 debut album.



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The Tide Is High- The Paragons Blondie did a great cover of this song their 1980 album Autoamerican. Debbie Harry had a great love of ska and reggae music Blondie frequently included one or two reggae covers in their live performance song lists. The group also had a minor hit in 1979 with the Debby Harry/Chris Stein reggae influenced song Die Young Stay Pretty. Here's the original 1967 recording of The Tide Is High by the Paragons.



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Madness- Prince Buster The Prince Buster bluebeat hit Madness was covered by none other than Camden's favorite sons, Madness on their 1979 debut One Step Beyond. The song was one of the first bluebeat songs to hit the charts in the UK, way back in 1963.



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Old 02-05-2014, 03:58 AM   #36 (permalink)
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Millie Small- Jamaica's First International Music Star



1964 is remembered by most as the year the Beatles invaded America and stormed the American pop charts with 22 top 5 songs, 6 of which reached the number 1 position on the Billboard chart.

Many folks forget that in 1964 an 18 year old Jamaican named Millie Small stunned everybody with her international best selling ska hit, My Boy Lollipop, which reached #2 on both the American & UK pop charts. Millie was already recording at Channel One in her teens, when Chris Blackwell discovered her in Jamaica and brought her to England. My Boy Lollipop was recorded at a Blackwell produced London session that included the legendary Ernest Ranglin on guitar and the previously unknown Anglo rocker, Rod Stewart on harmonica.

After the smashing success of My Boy Lollipop, Millie Small faded into obscurity but for many Americans and Brits, the song was their first encounter with the sound of Jamaican ska music. The video is from a December 1964 appearance of Millie Small on Finnish television.



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Last edited by Gavin B.; 02-05-2014 at 07:28 AM.
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Old 02-05-2014, 12:53 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Four Dukes of the Dancehall Deejay Style

Aside from the mighty U-Roy, four other deejays come to mind from the golden age of reggae: I-Roy, Charlie Chaplin, Half Pint and Yellowman. Each man had his own unique style of toasting and commanded a large following a fans in their prime.

World on Fire- I-Roy- I-Roy was a contemporary of U-Roy and suffered from comparisons to U-Roy. Perhaps he should have chosen a name that wasn't so similar. On it's own terms, World on Fire is a magnificent display of I-Roy's toasting skills.



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Ram Up Dance Hall- Charlie Chaplin- By the mid-Eighties, Charlie Chaplin had become the most successful dancehall toaster in Jamaica. Chaplin took a step away from the militant styles of many toasters and stuck to the nice-it-up themes of dance hall music.



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Mr. Landlord- Half Pint- I saw Half Pint open a show for Gregory Isaacs and was amazed at how well he sung for an artist who bills himself as a dancehall deejay. Mr. Landlord was a huge hit in Jamaica in 1983. It was produced by King Jammy.



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Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt- Yellowman- Yellowman was the first toaster to gain a huge international following of fans. His detractors dismissed his slackness (sexual boasting) style as sexist but many fans listened to him for that very reason. His recordings were drenched in dub effects.

All things considered, Yellow was a nimble rhymer and often added hilarious social commentary to his songs.



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Old 03-02-2014, 12:30 PM   #38 (permalink)
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Ina 2 Tone Style

Embeded below is a killer performance of Monkey Man at the 2009 Glastonbury Music Festival. It's a bit eerie... Jerry Dammers looks as if he's hardly aged since 1979.



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It's not Jerry Dammers in that clip, he was never part of the reformed versions of the Specials. He hasn't performed with the Specials since 1981
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