UNSUNG: Rocksteady with Lynn TaittFriday, February 17, 2012
In commemoration of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of Independence from Britain, the Jamaica Observer’s Entertainment section recognises 50 persons who have made significant, yet unheralded contributions to the country’s culture. Today, we feature the fourth in the series, musician Lynn Taitt.
OF the many musicians who roamed Kingston’s studios during the 1960s, few can compare to guitarist Lynn Taitt as far as number of hit songs played.
Some musicologists claim the Trinidadian is responsible for creating the rocksteady beat which preceded ska. Taitt played with several bands and recorded for the top Jamaican producers of the 1960s.
One of his standout sessions came in 1965. It took place at Federal Records where he was backing singer Hopeton Lewis, on what turned out to be an historic record.
"When I went to Jamaica and started playing with Baba Brooks and those guys everything was fast, but in Trinidad they had fast calypso and slow calypso," Taitt said in a 2003 interview with the Observer.
"So that day I told ‘Gladdy (keyboardist Gladstone Anderson) to slow the tempo and that’s how Take It Easy and rocksteady came about."
Taitt, who was born Nerlynn Taitt in the San Fernando region of Trinidad & Tobago, came to Jamaica in 1962 with his band to celebrate Jamaica’s Independence from Britain.
He stayed for 10 years, playing on countless hit songs for producers Vincent ‘Randy’ Chin, Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd, Arthur ‘Duke’ Reid, Leslie Kong and Derrick Harriott.
Some of his best work was done with Kong’s star performer, singer Desmond Dekker. Taitt’s distinctive rhythm riffs can be heard on Israelites and 007 (Shantytown) which were massive hits for Dekker in Britain.
Other classics Taitt played on include: Chang Kai Shek (the Baba Brooks Band), Confucius and Guns of Navarone (the Skatalites), Girl I’ve Got a Date (Alton Ellis), I Can See Clearly Now (Johnny Nash), You Have Caught Me (the Melodians), and Stop That Train (Keith and Tex).
Taitt was founder and leader of The Jets, an all-star band that also included Anderson, saxophonist Headley Bennett, organist Winston Wright and bass player Brian Atkinson. He migrated to Toronto, Canada in 1968, later settling in Montreal.
Lynn Taitt died from cancer in Montreal in January, 2010. He was 75 years old.