Joseph Hoo Kim's legacy lives on

Observer senior writer

Saturday, September 22, 2018

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IN the 1970s, Maxfield Avenue was one of Kingston's happening communities. Journalists from around the world flocked the area for stories on its people, politicians and music.

Joseph “Joe Joe” Hoo Kim, who died of liver cancer at age 76 on Thursday in New York, had an impact on Maxfield Avenue through his Channel One studio, located in its heart.

Music producer, Franklin “Ben Up” Irving, who has known the Hoo Kim family for over 50 years, confirmed his death.

Hoo Kim was the eldest of four brothers who grew up in nearby Greenwich Farm. Prior to opening Channel One in 1972, they operated an ice cream parlour, slot machines, juke boxes and a sound system.

Channel One became their most profitable venture. The studio produced countless hit songs including It's A Shame by Delroy Wilson, Woman Is Like A Shadow (The Meditations), I Need A Roof, Africa and Right Time (The Mighty Diamonds), Things and Time, Jah Jah Give Us Life (The Wailing Souls), Queen Majesty (The Jays), Ballistic Affair (Leroy Smart), I Know Myself (Ernest Wilson) and MPLA, which was done by house band The Revolutionaries.

The Revolutionaries' core members were drummer Sly Dunbar, bass player Bertram 'Ranchie' McLean, keyboardist Ansell Collins and saxophonist Tommy McCook. They played on some of reggae's finest songs at Channel One, with Hoo Kim credited as producer on most of them.

“Joe Joe was a state-of-the-art producer; have good ears. Di juke box an' sound system dat dem own enhanced dem desire to build a studio,” Irving told the Jamaica Observer.

The brothers (Paul, Kenneth and Ernest) invested in an API console which was cutting edge at the time. It was responsible for the unique sound on Channel One recordings.

But in an interview with American writer David Katz for his book, Solid Foundation: An Oral History of Reggae, Hoo-Kim said even with better equipment than their rivals, things did not start out well.

“(Producer) Bunny Lee said, 'the studio don't sound good', an' I have the most expensive console. I did an LP with Alton Ellis that I couldn't release. The bass was tied to the drum…It wasn't recorded properly,” he recalled.

Ernest, youngest of the four brothers, was chief engineer at Channel One. Paul operated their sound system which helped expose the studio's productions, while Kenneth got into production in the early 1980s when the family gradually left the music business.

Paul was killed by gunmen in Greenwich Farm in 1977. Kenneth died from lung cancer in 2013.

Joseph Hoo Kim helped oversee distribution of the vast Channel One catalogue in the last 25 years. Compilation albums containing the studio's hit songs were sporadically released by Heartbeat Records and VP Records.

He is survived by his wife Joyce, several children, grandchildren, brother, and three sisters.

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