Entertainment

Still rocking steady with Studio One

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Monday, July 01, 2019

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With today being International Reggae Day, the Jamaica Observer continues its 'Reggae 50' feature on people, organisations, and events that have made an impact on reggae over the past 50 years.

If Motown and Stax made soul music an international force, Studio One did the same for rocksteady. Clement Dodd was the man behind the magic artistes and musicians created at his Brentford Road base in Kingston.

Like Motown and Stax, Studio One nurtured or developed numerous talented artistes including Alton Ellis, Delroy Wilson, The Skatalites, The Wailers, The Heptones, Bob Andy, Ken Boothe, Dennis Brown, Marcia Griffiths, Burning Spear, Freddie McGregor, Horace Andy, Johnny Osbourne, and Sugar Minott.

Dodd, who officially opened the studio in 1963, told the Jamaica Observer in 1998 that there was a simple method to the timeless songs he produced.

“All we wanted to do was make dance music for young people, properly done. When people go out an' hear di music, dem jus' waan dance,” he said.

Studio One artistes were backed by stellar musicians led by The Skatalites, an all-star band with the triple saxophone attack of Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso, and Lester Sterling, the gifted trombonist Don Drummond, trumpeter Johnny “Dizzy” Moore, keyboardist Jackie Mittoo, drummer Lloyd Knibb, bassist Lloyd Brevett, and guitarist Jerome “Jah Jerry” Haynes.

Mittoo became Dodd's right-hand man during Studio One's glory years of the mid and late 1960s. He arranged many of the hit songs and raucous rhythms that are sampled aplenty to this day.

Other noted musicians who distinguished themselves at Studio One were bass players Brian Atkinson, Boris Gardiner, and Leroy Sibbles; drummers Joe Isaacs and Fil Callender; keyboardists Robbie Lyn and Pablove Black; guitarist Eric Frater and hornsmen Headley Bennett, Bobby Ellis, Vin Gordon, Cedric “Im” Brooks, and David Madden.

McGregor, who went to Studio One as a six-year-old in 1962, once lived with Dodd and considers him a second father. He believes determination sets him apart from most Jamaican producers.

“Overall, his love for music and his vision for where our music could go — whereas other producers saw it as just a business, he had a passion for it,” McGregor said.

Making great music was not the only similarity Studio One shared with Motown and Stax. Dodd had bitter feuds with artistes over royalties, some that lasted up to his death from a heart attack at age 72 in May 2004.

The good times outweighed the bad at Studio One which is still in operation at its original location, now known as Studio One Boulevard. Dodd's impressive catalogue is distributed throughout the world and fans dance up a storm whenever they hear one of his productions.

Mission accomplished, Clement “Coxson” Dodd.


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