Lynn Taitt -- the musician's musician --dies in Canada

BY BASIL WALTERS Observer staff reporter

Friday, January 22, 2010    

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LEGENDARY Jamaican guitarist/band leader Lynn Taitt has died.

The 70-odd year-old rocksteady pioneer died Wednesday in Toronto, Canada where he had been ailing for sometime.

Born Nerlynn Taitt in San Fernando, Trinidad, this musical gift is being hailed as a musician's musician as well as a major contributor to the internationalisation of reggae, particularly in Canada.

"Lynn Taitt was a musician's musician," prominent music selector/historian Winston Blake told Splash. "He had a persona that made it comfortable for everybody who came in his presence to work along with him," the founder/operator of the famous Merritone sound system added.

"He played a role in Bob Marley's career, and touched the lives of countless reggae greats," was how well-known musicologist Roger Steffens remembered Lynn Taitt. "He will be remembered by historians as one of the major contributors to the internationalisation of reggae, particularly for his work in spreading the music in Canada," the reggae historian added.

Taitt began playing the guitar at the age of 14. He came to Jamaica in the early 1960s and was booked by the late Byron Lee to perform on the 1962 Independence celebrations. While here, he played in a number of bands, including The Sheiks, The Cavaliers, The Skatalites, Baba Brooks and Tommy McCook and the Supersonics.

He later started the first of two outfits, and -- according to Winston Blake -- Lynn Taitt and The Comets was one of the best dance bands Jamaica had. He went on to form The Jets in 1966, which included such stalwarts as Hux Brown, Headley Bennett, Hopeton Lewis, Gladstone Anderson and Winston Wright, which was his most successful aggregation.

The musical virtuoso was highly rated for his inventive and unconventional guitar styling. He has been widely credited as having crafted the first rocksteady bassline on the song Take It Easy by vocalist Hopeton Lewis.

"He came at a time when Jamaican music needed all the brilliant players that it could get to really give it the start that it got," Winston Blake reminisced, adding that Taitt did most of his work with Federal Recording Company.

"He offered such a splendid alternative to the virtuosity that Ernie Ranglin displayed during the ska era," was the view of another noted musicologist Herbie Miller.

"As a Trinidadian who made Jamaica his home he totally assimilated our music with his own musical culture... another great contributor to our music has departed," Miller further said.

Also sharing his memories of Taitt, broadcaster Bunny Goodison said: "Everybody who took part in the rocksteady (genre) said that he (Taitt) was the baddest."

The last major musical project that Lynn Taitt was involved with was a documentary on rocksteady music. His departure followed that of another important contributor, Yabby You, who died on Wednesday last week.




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