Joseph Hoo Kim makes transition

Observer senior writer

Friday, December 14, 2018

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The Jamaica Observer continues its reflection on the year in entertainment. This daily column looks on the achievers, trendsetters, those who died, and the controversies.

Joseph “JoJo” Hoo Kim, the street-smart founder of Channel One recording studio, died in September at age 75. He succumbed to liver cancer in New York City.

The Chinese-Jamaican was the unlikely head of the studio that produced a militant beat many musicians regard as Jamaica's soundtrack during the politically explosive 1970s. Channel One gave opportunities to Black-conscious artistes like The Mighty Diamonds, Earth and Stone, Leroy Smart and The Meditations.

The Revolutionaries, house band at Channel One, was driven by the patterns of drummer Sly Dunbar who later became world-famous as part of drum-and-bass duo Sly and Robbie. Saxophonist Tommy McCook, bassist Ranchie McLean and keyboardist Ansel Collins were also key members of Hoo Kim's recording set-up.

Hoo Kim was the eldest of four brothers who started Channel One in the rough Kingston community of Maxfield Avenue in 1972. Though they also owned a sound system, their main enterprise prior to the studio was running an ice-cream parlour and operating slot machines.

Dunbar credits Hoo Kim's ear for a good sound as key to Channel One's remarkable run during the 1970s when it produced classics songs such as Africa and I Need A Roof by The Mighty Diamonds; Ballistic Affair and Badness nuh Pay (Leroy Smart) and Woman Is Like A Shadow by The Meditations.

His brothers Paul and Kenneth died in 1977 and 2013, respectively. Ernest, the chief engineer at Channel One, was among the mourners at Hoo Kim's thanksgiving service at Stella Maris Church in Kingston on October 20.

Entertainment Minister Olivia Grange, impresario Tommy Cowan, Chris Chin of VP Records, bass players Robbie Shakespeare and Errol “Flabba Holt” Carter, Tabby and Judge of The Mighty Diamonds, singer Tinga Stewart, former Channel One engineer Anthony “Soljie” Hamilton, deejays Trinity and Jah Thomas, producers Winston “Niney” Holness, Gussie Clarke, Robert Livingston, Donovan Germain and Chris Chin of VP Records also attended the service.

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