Jack Ruby gets due

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

Thursday, February 23, 2012

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MUSIC producer Jack Ruby never gained the infamy of the man from whom he took his moniker, but he certainly made his mark in the annals of reggae.

Ruby (real name Lawrence Lindo) will finally get his due on Saturday. He is among the honorees at Saturday’s Jamaica Reggae Industry Association’s (JARIA) awards ceremony, to be held at Emancipation Park.

The recognition of Ruby’s work comes 23 years after his death and 37 years since he produced Marcus Garvey, the landmark reggae album by roots singer Burning Spear. That set included hard-hitting songs like the title track, Slavery Days, Jordan River and Tradition.

Ruby gathered the cream of Jamaican musicians to work on Marcus Garvey, dubbing them the Black Disciples. Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace, drummer for the band, described Ruby as a ‘wonderful bredrin’.

"Jack treated us so good we wanted to give him a wonderful album. Is a man who neva really get him merit," Wallace told the Observer.
Wallace said he first met Ruby during the late 1960s in the St Andrew community of Greenwich Farm where the latter operated his Jack Ruby Hi Fi sound system. Wallace had played on Spear’s album for Studio One and Ruby was the singer’s good friend.

In the early 1970s, Ruby moved to Ocho Rios but returned to Kingston in 1975 to recruit musicians for recording sessions with Spear.

"He said he knew what the Burning Spear needed and wanted to produce him himself," Wallace recalled.

Wallace was joined by saxophonists Bobby Ellis and Herman Marquis, trombonist Vin Gordon, bass player Robbie Shakespeare, guitarist Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith and keyboardists Earl ‘Wya’ Lindo, Bernard ‘Touter’ Harvey and Tyrone Downie for sessions at the Randys studio in downtown Kingston.

Marcus Garvey turned out to be a masterpiece and was eventually distributed by Island Records, the company that helped make Bob Marley a superstar. It made Burning Spear reggae’s newest star.

Ruby would also produce Man In The Hills, another classic Spear album. Like Wallace, Ruby appeared in the 1978 low-budget film Rockers. He became a staple on the Ocho Rios music scene, producing artistes such as Big Youth, Kiddus-I and Foundation.

Jack Ruby was indirectly introduced to a new generation of music fans in 2007 when his grandson, Miami pop sensation Sean Kingston, released the mega hit Beautiful Girls.

The JARIA 2012 honour list is completed by impresario Copeland Forbes (lifetime achievement); the Alpha Boys' School (mentorship); singers Peter Tosh and Gregory Isaacs will receive posthumous awards; Tom 'The Great Sebastian’ Wong will (sound system award; sound engineers Errol Thompson and Phillip Smart; producers Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd and Arthur 'Duke' Reid; musicians Ernie Ranglin and Jackie Mittoo; artistes Toots Hibbert and Marcia Griffiths; ska band The Skatalites, and the group Culture.

The late, influential radio announcer Neville Willoughby and Synergy, original promoters of Reggae Sunsplash, will also be recognised for their contribution to Jamaican music.

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