Jackie Jackson: Bass player extraordinaire

Jackie Jackson: Bass player extraordinaire


Howard Campbell

Friday, March 16, 2012

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In commemoration of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence from Britain, the Jamaica Observer’s Entertainment section recognises 50 persons who made significant yet unheralded contributions to the country’s culture. This week we feature bass player Jackie Jackson.

REGGAE has produced some of the best bass players in pop music. Aston ‘Familyman’ Barrett, Leroy Sibbles and Robbie Shakespeare are some of the best known names.

Jackie Jackson, who has played some of the most revered bass lines in the music’s history, also belongs to that elite class.

Jackson was one of the top musicians of the rock steady era of the mid- and late-1960s. As a member of producer Arthur ‘Duke’ Reid’s vaunted Supersonics house band, Jackson stood out on countless hit songs released by Reid’s Treasure Isle label.

Girl I’ve Got a Date by Alton Ellis was the first of many hit songs Jackson played at Treasure Isle. Others included You’ve Caught Me (The Melodians), On The Beach (The Paragons) and Queen Majesty which was done by The Techniques.

Jackson can also be heard on Small Axe, the classic Wailers song produced by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, and Mother And Child Reunion, a massive hit in the early-1970s for superstar Paul Simon.

With musicians like saxophonist Tommy McCook and drummer Hugh Malcolm, The Supersonics are regarded as one of the greatest Jamaican bands. Yet, Jackson has never achieved the acclaim of Barrett, Sibbles or Shakespeare.

In recent years, books and films documenting the history of Jamaican music have changed that story considerably. One of those projects, the 2008 documentary Get Ready To Rocksteady, features Jackson and several of his contemporaries such as keyboardist Gladstone ‘Gladdy’ Anderson, another member of The Supersonics.

Now 65, Jackie Jackson is still a busy man. He is a long-serving member of the Toots and the Maytals band, the best touring act in reggae today.

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