Flabba Holt – 'Ace of Bass'
Flabba Holt

REGGAE has an impressive line of bass guitarists. Errol "Flabba Holt" Carter is one of them, and arguably the most prolific.

Flabba Holt is founder and leader of the Roots Radics Band which made some of the "baddest" rhythms of the late 1970s and 1980s. His heavy lines can be heard on songs by Gregory Isaacs (Night Nurse, Border, Poor and Clean); Freddie McGregor (Big Ship); David Isaacs (Just Like The Sea); Edi Fitzroy (Check For You Once); Eek-A-Mouse (Wa Do Dem); Michael Prophet (Gunman, Here Comes The Bride); and John Holt (Police In Helicopter).

He also played all songs on Barrington Levy's outstanding Englishman album, as well as most of the albums by Israel Vibration.

"When mi jus' start [play bass], man used to tell mi seh mi haffi play like [Leroy] Sibbles or Robbie [Shakespeare], or the bredrin from Motown [James Jamerson], but mi always waan sound like me," he told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.

Flabba Holt's success with singers should come as no surprise. He started his career as a vocalist and released two albums as an artiste during the 1970s before taking up the four-string, first with The Morwells, then the Roots Radics which he formed in 1978.

With Flabba Holt as musical director Roots Radics became the unofficial house band at Channel One studio, working around the clock with producers Henry "Junjo" Lawes and Linval Thompson.

Another of Flabba Holt's strong points is his ability to spot talented musicians. He brought in drummer Lincoln "Style" Scott and keyboardist Wycliffe "Steely" Johnson into the 'Radics' fold and helped develop their playing.

The 73-year-old Flabba Holt is the sole survivor of the original Roots Radics Band. Scott, Johnson, guitarists Eric "Bingy Bunny" Lamont and Noel "Sowell" Bailey have all died.

Flabba Holt still records and tours with American and European artistes who grew up listening to the patented Roots Radics sound.

Howard Campbell

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