OLYMPIC-TRACKS — Asafa's Linstead
The Olympics starts July 27 with Jamaica expected to figure prominently among the medals. The Jamaica Observer presents the second in a series on the hometowns of some of our top athletes.
Immortalised in the popular folk song, Linstead Market, the St Catherine town of Linstead is also the birthplace of sprinter and former 100 metres world record holder Asafa Powell.
Powell was born in Orangefield district and attended Charlemont High School. His parents, both pastors, have churches in nearby Bog Walk and Ewarton.
Linstead is also known for producing top artistes such as roots giant Joseph 'Culture' Hill, rock steady singer Phyllis Dillon, Festival Song Contest winner Freddie McKay, Nana McLean, Jigsy King and Tony Curtis.
Also from the community are the Soul Defenders, a band that recorded at Studio one in the 1970s. It comprised drummer Vincent Morgan, guitarist Ronald 'Privy' Campbell and bassist Festus Walker. McKay and McLean were the band's vocalists.
The band formed in 1968 and worked as backing band for producer Clement Dodd at his Brentford Road studio.
"We have recorded with Culture, Dennis Brown, Horace Andy, Burning Spear, Wailing Souls, Alton Ellis, The Heptones. Our first session at Studio One saw us recording seven singles, four of which became instant hits," Morgan told the Jamaica Observer.
Among those hit songs were Picture on the Wall by McKay (on which Hill played percussion) and Selection Train by the Selective Few.
Soul Defenders also served as backing band for Culture from 1981-85 when he toured Europe and North America.
Morgan said during the band's reign, Linstead hosted numerous parties and stage shows.
"Ackee Pod Club, Club Jamaica, and Bog Walk Sports were regular party spots. We would bring Studio One artistes to perform at these venues," he said.
According to Morgan, in the 1970s, he could easily use $200 and organise a concert.
"It wasn't really about the money...it was about the unity that we all shared," he reminisced.
The Soul Defenders disbanded in 1985 but reunited six years later for Studio One's 35th anniversary celebration.
How aware are younger residents of Linstead about their community's music history?
"While I am too young to remember the Soul Defenders, my grandfather often spoke about Culture and the band," said 27 year-old Sherene Bartley. "He also spoke about wearing his bellfoot trousers to the concerts that the band use to host. I am quite familiar with the songs that Tony Curtis and Jigsy King sing," she added.
McKay, Hill and Dillon have died. Morgan and Campbell still live in Linstead.