Gussie makes Honour roll


Gussie makes Honour roll

Observer senior reporter

Friday, August 30, 2019

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For music producer and publisher Augustus “Gussie” Clarke his major contribution to the Jamaican entertainment industry has been a desire to do things differently and get it right.

That trait is, perhaps, the driving force behind the Government's decision to honour him with the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Commander (CD). Clarke will receive the insignia at King's House in St Andrew on October 21, National Heroes' Day.

“We have created music in a different way from how most people have done, where it has had a great global effect. Our experience and guidance has been available to many up-coming and successful persons on a daily basis. That in itself being replicated in many different lives of individuals in the music industry, whether they be artiste, producer, musician, that in itself is contributing to impacting on the development of a certain standard of music and how one does the business of music, which is very important,” Clarke told the Jamaica Observer's Splash.

With over 40 years' experience in the music business under his belt, Clarke has produced a number of hit songs, starting with Big Youth's Screaming Target in 1972; The Mighty Diamonds' Pass the Kutchie, Telephone Love by J C Lodge, Rumours by Gregory Isaacs, and Champion Lover by Deborahe Glasgow and Shabba Ranks.

He traces his entry in music to his days at Kingston College in the early 1970s when he sold bicycle rides to friends to earn money to purchase music and equipment for his sound system.

He delved deeper into the industry, learning the ins and outs of the profession and constantly sharing his knowledge with those with whom he came in contact.

“It's one of those things that hit you and you knew this was going to be your path. I have never had a different profession, or had an intent to enter into any other industry other than music. It started off with my little sound system. I was perhaps the first man to have a home studio in Jamaica at Third Street,” Clarke recalled. “I have been involved in importing and export music to and from everywhere in the world; and then we were cutting dubs. It has always been my belief that if I should do things differently, that is what matters and will create an impact. So I have just sought to do it differently and do it well and that is what has worked for us.”

Doing it differently for Clarke also meant understanding the business. That involves issues relating to publishing and copyright.

“When we did Pass the Kutchie and then Musical Youth came in and did Pass the Dutchie and it became one of the biggest songs in the world, I knew nothing about music and copyright. So I immediately went and learned as much as I could, as a result I am now one of the largest music publisher in this country,” he said. “Part of our own giving back was contributing to the development and establishment of musical entities that will benefit the industry. For example, I am a founding member of the Jamaica Music Society (JAMMS); I am also the conceptualiser and a founding member of JACAP (Jamaica Association of Composers Authors and Publishers).”

Clarke also did some backup singing in the early days. ”I went to Studio One when I had my sound system... a little hi-fi, I went with a friend, Prince Junior, and did some vocals on a track, but I realised quickly that this was not for me. I believe you should be the best at what you can do, rather than the worst of what you want to be. I felt I could provide a greater impact elsewhere in the industry, so I moved to the other side, which has taken me to where I am today,” he said.

Other entertainment personalities receiving National Honours are Rita Marley, who will be bestowed an Order of Jamaica. Other recipients of the Order of Distinction are actor Glen Campbell, deejay Sean Paul, Herbie Miller, former manager of Peter Tosh and curator of the Jamaica Music Museum, National Dance Theatre Company's Anthony Wilson, musician Desi Jones, Roger and Ian Lewis of the Inner Circle Band, and singer Jacob Miller.

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