The Chung connection

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

Sunday, July 06, 2014

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The 17th staging of Tribute To The Greats takes place July 26 at the Chinese Benevolent Association in St Andrew. Dubbed 'The Chinese Connection', it salutes the contribution of the Chinese to Jamaica's popular music. Today, the Sunday Observer continues a six-part series on some of the recipients.

WHILE growing up at Tewari Crescent off Maxfield Avenue in the early 1960s, Mikey Chung recalls hearing the sounds of ska from a nearby club. It had an enduring impact on he and his younger brother Geoffrey.

The Chungs' love for music grew when they moved to Vineyard Town in east Kingston and attended St George's College.

Geoffrey, one of reggae's finest producers, died in 1995 from kidney failure.

Mikey, older by one year, is now 64. He spoke to the Sunday Observer about the Tribute To The Greats award.

"We are humble people but it's nice to get recognition. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed when I go on the Internet and see things people say about our music," Chung said.

By the late 1960s, the Chung brothers were playing in clubs and recording for top producers such as Clement Dodd, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Derrick Harriott and Winston 'Niney' Holness.

They were members of the Now Generation band which played on numerous hits at Federal Records by Ernie Smith (Life is Just For Living, Duppy Gunman) and Ken Lazarus (Hail the Man).

They also backed Dennis Brown (Wichita Lineman, Silhouettes), Lorna Bennett (Breakfast in Bed), Junior Byles (Beat Down Babylon) and Peter Tosh (Mawga Dog).

Mikey was a multi-instrumentalist (he played guitar, bass, keyboards and drums) while Geoffrey played bass and keyboards. In the mid-1970s, the latter changed course.

"He slowly got into engineering and production became his life. Musicians and artistes respected Geoff in the studio because he made them feel comfortable," said Chung.

Geoffrey Chung produced several outstanding albums including Satta Massa Gana by The Abyssinians; and songs like Pablo Moses' I Man a Grasshopper and A Song, and Close to You by Maxi Priest.

In the late 1970s, Mikey Chung became guitarist with Tosh's Word, Sound and Power band, playing on songs like Buckingham Palace, Nothing But Love and Mystic Man.

He was also a member of the Compass Point All Stars which recorded with Grace Jones, Manu Dibango and Black Uhuru.

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