Bobby Digital — A dancehall legend
Clevie hails Bobby as revolutionaryFriday, May 29, 2020
BY BRIAN BONITTO
Producer/musician Cleveland “Clevie” Browne remembers his late colleague, Robert “Bobby Digital” Dixon, for an unyielding work ethic and positivity.
“Even in his illness, he still went out and worked. He loved what he was doing and enjoyed every moment of it,” Browne told the Jamaica Observer's Splash.
“I knew he was ailing and made several arrangements to see him, but he kept on saying he was alright. He fought it and never felt sorry for himself,” he continued.
Dixon lost his battle with kidney disease on May 21. He was 59.
Browne was half of the production duo Steely and Clevie. Steely, whose given name was Wycliffe Johnson, died in a New York hospital in September 2009. He had been suffering from pneumonia after recovering from kidney complications the year before.
Browne said he and Dixon's friendship spans more than three decades. Their first meeting was at Lloyd “King Jammy's” James's studio in Waterhouse, Kingston.
“I met Bobby in November 1985 when I went to King Jammy's studio to work; just after Sleng Teng. We [Steely and I] saw Jammy's had that vision to adopt the digital technology as we were experimenting with it at the time,” he said.
“When we went there, Bobby Digital was on staff already. He had also accepted this change [in dancehall sound] and I see him as one of the digital revolutionaries, in the advent of the digital revolution— Steely, Clevie, Jammy's, Bobby Digital,” Clevie continued.
Sleng Teng is the ground-breaking rhythm created by singer Wayne Smith from Waterhouse with his friend Noel Davy on a Casio MT40 keyboard. They took their rough creation to producer and community heavyweight Lloyd “King Jammys” James, who recorded Smith's Under Mi Sleng Teng in 1985, ushering in dancehall's digital age.
Hailing from Olympic Gardens community in Kingston, Dixon started his career as an audio engineer with Jammy's.
He went on to produce a number of hit songs by Shabba Ranks, starting in the late 1980s with Peenie Peenie. The keyboard/drum team of Steely and Clevie played on several of those massive hits such as Just Reality, Live Blanket and Wicked In A Bed.
Browne recalls the last time he spoke with Dixon.
“I'm happy that a week before he passed he called me. We had a good vibe, it's like he was telling me his final farewell, but nothing like that came up ... and within a week, he was gone,” he said.
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