Movies

Spotlight on Sporty

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Sunday, August 13, 2017

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A documentary on the life of singer/producer Noel “King Sporty” Williams is in the works. Its title is Irie The Film: Journey Of A King.

The project is produced by Canadian Noel Osborne, who knew Sporty for over 20 years. Sporty, a key figure in the development of the Miami music scene, died in 2015 at age 71.

He is best known to many as co-writer of the Bob Marley hit song Buffalo Soldier. Osborne said he wanted to introduce the unsung Sporty to new fans.

“This is the man who wrote Buffalo Soldier and I don't think many people know that; so how could I not do a film about King Sporty? He is one of the most influential figures in Jamaican music. I just figured that his story needed to be told to the world,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Osborne did not give a date for ' Journey Of A King's release, but said filming was completed last year and he is in the final stages of editing. He interviewed Sporty, his wife Betty Wright, Ken Boothe, Earl Morgan of The Heptones, Bunny Wailer, Sizzla, Albert Minott of the Jolly Boys, Inner Circle, and Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell of the 2 Live Crew.

Born in Portland, King Sporty worked as a sound system selector and toaster for producers including Clement 'Coxson' Dodd during the 1960s. As an artiste, he is best known in Jamaica for the soulful Thinking Of You.

In Miami he ran with the hip crowd that included Henry Stone, flamboyant head of the multi-successful TK Records. That entity helped fashion the Miami sound that produced hits by Bahamian band Beginning Of The End ( Funky Nassau), George McRae ( Rock Your Baby), KC And The Sunshine Band ( That's The Way I Like It) and Bobby Caldwell ( What You Won't Do For Love).

According to Osborne, he was introduced to Sporty by Fred Rector, who was a pitchman for TK Records in the 1970s.

“Fred Rector was a record promoter who broke such acts as the Jackson 5, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Betty Wright, and KC and the Sunshine Band. Fred had sent me to Miami to meet the man he called his brother, King Sporty. From that time Sporty and I had a special relationship. Sporty was larger than life and an absolutely great mentor and friend,” he said.

Osborne, who lives in Los Angeles, has directed music videos and “produced some television”. Irie The Film: Journey Of A King is his debut film.

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