Entertainment

Remembering Philip Smart

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

Thursday, February 27, 2014    

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ANYONE who moved in New York reggae circles for the last 30 years would be familiar with Philip Smart, the quiet, influential founder and head of HC&F Recording Studio in Long Island.

Smart, an engineer/producer, died Tuesday in Port Washington, New York, from pancreatic cancer. He was in his late 50s.

His brother-in-law and business partner, Michael McDonald, told the Jamaica Observer that Smart was admitted to a hospice last week.

The prolific engineer/ producer worked with countless artistes at his HC&F Recording Studio in Long Island, most notably Shaggy, who recorded several of his hit songs there.

Some of the Grammy-winning toaster's early songs such as Mampie, Big Up and his international breakthrough Oh Carolina, were recorded at HC&F.

Musician Derrick Barnett of Sagitarius Band fame also did numerous sessions at the facility. He knew Smart since the early 1980s.

"Philip was one of the nicest persons I knew in the music business. He was always willing to share his knowledge," Barnett told the Observer yesterday.

Radio personality and publicist Francine Chin knew Smart for nearly 30 years. She said he also had an impact on radio, hosting the Get Smart Show on New York University's WNYU radio station for 25 years.

"He never played his own product...It was never about Philip," Chin said. "Everybody knew about Philip Smart except Philip Smart."

Born and raised in the Havendale area of Kingston, Smart got his start in the music business through Augustus Pablo, the prodigious melodica player who lived in the same area.

Smart was at the Randy's recording studio in Kingston in 1971 when Pablo cut his classic instrumental Java.

He later became an understudy to engineer and dub maestro Osbourne 'King Tubbys' Ruddock, working on hit songs like Johnny Clarke's None Shall Escape The Judgement and Jah Love by roots visionary Yabby You.

Smart migrated to the United States in the late 1970s and in 1981 established HC&F, which became the go-to studio for reggae artistes and musicians in the tri-state region.

He operated two record labels: TanYah and Eclipse. The former produced notable hits like deejay Dirtsman's Hot This Year and Rikers Island by Cocoa Tea.

Smart helped nurture the careers of Barbados-born singer Rayvon and Jamaican deejay Red Fox.

Philip Smart is survived by his wife Georgette and son Phillip.

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