Remembering Jazzbo

By Howard Campbell Observer senior writer

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

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THE death last week of Prince Jazzbo closed another chapter in the history of deejays who came up through sound system ranks.

Jazzbo (real name Linval Carter) died at age 62 on September 11 from lung cancer at his Portmore, St Catherine home.

Like his contemporaries Dillinger and Trinity, Jazzbo started his career in the early 1970s when deejays were trying to move beyond their sound system base into recording.

He made his name on small sound systems like The Whip in Spanish Town before recording for producers including Clement 'Sir Coxson' Dodd, Glen Brown and Lee 'Scratch' Perry. Steve Barrow, the respected British reggae archivist, says Jazzbo had a considerable following in the United Kingdom.

"He was quite popular in the UK in the late 1970s, his records were released here by Count Shelly during 1975-77 after which he started his own Ujama label," Barrow told the Jamaica Observer. "As a deejay, he was one of the 1970s greats."

Prince Jazzbo was born in Clarendon but raised in Kingston. One of his first recordings was Crab Walking (a deejay take on the Horace Andy hit Skylarking) for Dodd which was followed by other releases for the producer's Studio One label.

In an interview for American author David Katz's book, Solid Foundation: An Oral History of Reggae, Jazzbo say Dodd's reluctance to release his songs saw him moving to Brown, regarded as one of the 1970s most creative producers.

Brown directed Jazzbo on hit songs such as Mr Harry Skank, and Mr Want All. He told Katz that Brown was the best producer he worked with.

"Glen Brown is the man who give me a lot of encouragement. He get me to be self-reliant," Jazzbo said.

One of his biggest hits, however, was the self-produced Crankibine on which he played piano and melodica. The song was engineered by Osbourne 'King Tubby' Ruddock with whom Jazzbo collaborated frequently.

Jazzbo was also involved in a longrunning 'feud' with fellow toaster I-Roy which was reportedly instigated by producer Bunny Lee. Their lyrical sparring produced the songs Straight to Jazzbo's Head, Straight to I-Roy's Head, and Jazzbo Have Fe Run and Gal Boy I-Roy.

Jazzbo's heyday had long passed by the dawn of dancehall's digital era in 1984. Princess Omega Carter, one of his three daughters, says her father continued to record at his home studio before his health declined rapidly.

The thanksgiving service for Linval 'Prince Jazzbo' Carter will be held October 6 at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Spanish Town Road. He will be interred in Blackwood, Clarendon.

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