The return of Josey Wales

BY KEVIN JACKSON Observer Writer

Thursday, April 03, 2014

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WHETHER it was going to a dance or listening to the radio, dancehall fans could not get enough of Josey Wales in the 1980s.

The deejay rode high with hits such as Undercover Lover, Nah Lef Ya, Bobo Dread and Leggo Mi Hand. Recently, he was introduced to a new generation of fans when he played 'The Don' in the music video for Shaggy's Bad Man Don't Cry.

In May, Wales will embark on a mini tour of the United States, billed as 'Return of the Outlaw'. Organised by entertainment company Irish and Chin, it sees him performing in east coast clubs as well as the Sierra Nevada Music Festival in northern California.

Also on the card are Wales' contemporaries, Charlie Chaplin, Brigadier Jerry and Little John.

It has been many years since the burly toaster has been to the US. The recent reissue of his American visa has motivated him to record new songs.

"I am working on songs that complement the 80s era, but have a sound that today's dancehall fans can appreciate. Everything in life comes full circle and lately we are starting to really see a re-emergence of old school 'riddims' and veteran artistes," he told Splash.

Wales is particularly excited about a project with a well-known dancehall deejay whom he declined to name. The artiste will cover one of Wales' hits.

"It's a little too early to go into details but I'm truly looking forward to this project," he said.

Wales was born Joseph Winston Sterling in St Mary, and began his career in the late 1970s on the U Roy-owned King Stur Gav sound system. Known as the Colonel, he and Chaplin (the 'Principal') helped make Stur Gav the leading 'sound' of the 1980s.

Wales made a successful transition to radio by working with producer Henry 'Junjo' Lawes' Volcano label. The partnership yielded hits such as Bobo Dread and Leggo Mi Hand, songs he first did at Stur Gav dances. Undercover Lover was done for George Phang's Power House label.

In 1997, Wales returned to the charts with Bushwhacked, which he recorded after an incident in which he was shot and robbed.

Wales says there is a simple formula for his longevity.

"I have a genuine love for the music and respect for the craft. I am one of the few remaining sound system deejays who enjoyed success recording hit songs which have remained timeless."

Josey Wales is scheduled to kick off his Return of the Outlaw tour May 2 with a show at Kay's Oasis in Boston.

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