IT was tough for Jamaican musicians during the early days of touring, especially when it came to finding suitable foods. It was a particular challenge for Rastafarian performers who did not eat processed products.
That is where Vivian 'Kyso' Hendricks came in. For nearly 20 yeas he toured as cook for Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, Ziggy Marley, Black Uhuru, Augustus Pablo and Junior Delgado.
Kyso, 66, grew up in Trench Town among future greats like Higgs and Wilson, The Wailers and The Wailing Souls. It was there in the late 1960s that his culinary skills first simmered.
"I wasn't a good singer, my voice wasn't melodious," he told the Jamaica Observer. "But I was always a good cook."
His first professional assignments were providing meals for musician rehearsals and at the Hawk Gym in Trench Town. In the 1970s, he set up shop at Maxfield Avenue across the street from Channel One, reggae's hottest studio during that period.
There, leading musicians including The Mighty Diamonds, The Gladiators and Earth and Stone savoured Kyso's menu which comprised mainly of ital stews and fish. In 1980, Cliff enlisted him as his official cook.
According to Kyso, working the road 30 years ago was not a bed of roses.
"The biggest problem was getting certain foods and seasoning. So, what I used to do was carry a big bag with things like scallion, coconut, guinea-hen weed..."
Though he helped Cliff's nephew Uton Merritt establish a Jamaican restaurant two years ago in northern California, Kyso no longer cooks professionally. He gave the Observer a taste of what foods artistes he worked for liked when they were on the road.
"Well, him love ackee season rice and lots of salads, 'cause is a man will fast all three-four days."
"Was a real italist. Peter used to love a lotta ital stew an' porridge."
"Would sometimes eat processed things like veggie chunks, but loved chop suey with brown rice. Him drink a lotta broad-bean soup."
"Him favourite thing was fish with rice and peas. Love him porridge wid things like crush cashew."
Duckie Simpson (Black Uhuru):
"Duckie love him dumpling an' ackee. Wi use to freeze it (ackee) an' tek it on the road, sometimes wi buy tin ackee when wi out there."