'Chips' talks about the crunch
Music marketing man Anthony Richards shines light on the overlooked
Anthony "Chips" Richards (second right) with music producer Bunny Lee (right) at the Q Awards in London in October 2018. With them are (from left) Locksley Gichie of The Cimarons, singer Dave Barker, and film-maker Don Letts.

At the time Anthony Richards arrived in the United Kingdom, 60 years ago, what became known as the Swinging Sixties was simmering. Groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were on the verge of exploding.

Music from the West Indies also made its way into British clubs or on sound systems operated by Jamaicans Duke Vin and Count Suckle. Ska and rock steady music became part of the UK's melting pot, thanks to the large flow of immigrants from Jamaica who settled there in the 1950s.

The big breakthrough for West Indian music came in 1964 with My Boy Lollipop, by Millie Small, which was a global hit. That ska song was distributed by Island Records which was co-founded by Chris Blackwell in Jamaica five years earlier.

My Boy Lollipop set the pace for hits by other Jamaicans, including Desmond Dekker and The Aces (Israelites and 007 Shanty Town), Dandy Livingstone (A Message to Rudie), Tony Tribe (Red Red Wine), Dave Barker and Ansel Collins (Double Barrell) and Everything I Own by Ken Boothe.

Anthony "Chips" Richards at King's House after being invested into the Order of Distinction last year. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)

The affable Richards helped shop Everything I Own for Trojan Records in 1974. It topped the British national chart and gave that company, operated by fellow Jamaican Lee Gopthal, its biggest commercial success.

In a recent interview with the Jamaica Observer, Richards paid homage to the Jamaican grass roots artistes, record shop owners, and sound system operators sometimes overlooked by the mainstream. They include Livingstone, Owen Gray, Lascelles Perkins, Jimmy James, The Cimarons, Sonny Roberts, Carlisle Pama, Count Suckle, Duke Vin, Count Shelly, and Lloydie Coxson.

"They are the ones who went around and did the footwork. Their contributions cannot be overlooked," he said.

There were also artistes from the Eastern Caribbean who made a significant mark including calypsonian Lord Kitchener from Trinidad and Tobago, who had arrived in the UK on the Empire Windrush in June 1948, as part of the first wave of Caribbean immigrants to the UK.

carry small

Also, Eddy Grant from Guyana, a soul singer with The Equals.

By the mid-1970s, first-generation West Indian Britons were holding their own musically with a sound inspired by Rastafari and racial/social unrest throughout the UK. The best known of those militant acts were Aswad, Steel Pulse, and Misty In Roots.

They were followed in the 1980s and 1990s by more laid-back acts like Maxi Priest, Janet Kay and Musical Youth.

At the October 2018 Q Awards in London, Trojan Records was honoured with the Inspiration Award for helping to introduce the music of West Indians to major markets in the UK.

That event was attended by a number of reggae stalwarts including Richards, who was honoured with the Order of Distinction, at the rank of Officer, by the Jamaican Government in 2022 for his contribution to the development of Jamaican music.

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer entertainment@jamaicaobserver.com

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