Prince Buster a mu­si­cal glad­i­a­tor

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT -

ONE OF the most ex­cit­ing episodes in the life of the late Prince Buster was his mu­si­cal con­fronta­tions, or ‘mu­si­cal wars’, with oth­ers in the mu­sic busi­ness.

Per­haps the one that most peo­ple are fa­mil­iar with is the one with Der­rick Mor­gan, who he ac­cused of steal­ing his

be­long­ings and giv­ing them a Chi­na­man. But be­fore that, Buster had some sting­ing mu­si­cal ex­changes with Cle­ment Dodd also known as Cox­son, the owner of the Stu­dio 1 record la­bel. Dodd had just re­turned from one of his mu­si­cal so­journs abroad to find the mu­sic scene be­ing taken over by his for­mer em­ployee and fledg­ling sound sys­tem archri­val Prince Buster. Buster had just re­cently launched his Voice Of The Peo­ple sound sys­tem and was on the verge of be­com­ing a suc­cess­ful record producer with Eric Monty Mor­ris’ Humpty Dumpty, Der­rick Mor­gan’s Shake a Leg and his own They Got To Go. Dodd ap­par­ently felt be­trayed be­cause Buster was his ‘right hand man’, who helped to es­tab­lish him as one of the top sound sys­tem giants at the time. Ac­cord­ing to Buster, in an in­ter­view I had with him, “I ease the pres­sure offa him, and I suf­fer inna the rush, too, but we made him into a sound sys­tem man and mek him can keep him dance in peace”.

In the mean­time, Dodd, in one of his rare ap­pear­ances as a per­former, likened Buster to the off­spring of the ne­far­i­ous King Pharaoh of bib­li­cal times, as he raps in pre­lude to Del­roy Wil­son’s singing on the 1962 record­ing, Prince Pharaoh (go down). Among oth­ers, Buster had replies with One Hand Wash The Other and They Got To Come, in which he sings:

“Don’t be­lieve them peo­ple, I have done no wrong so will you kindly help me, help me to sing my song.These bad-minded peo­ple would like to see me down. But when the game is over and over, I can’t go wrong. They got to come, they got to come, they got to come my way”.

Buster fur­ther an­nounced his dis­plea­sure with: “This story has just be­gun So please tell me if I’m wrong

It takes one hand to wash the other.

And ev­ery bad move they try

I pass them by and by I leave them to cry They might even die”, all this in the record­ing One Hand Wash The Other. The three sound sys­tem giants of the day – Cox­son Down Beat, Duke Reid The Tro­jan, and King Ed­ward The Giant, from whom Buster faced much re­sis­tance, were sum­mar­ily mocked in the record­ing The Duke, The King and The Sir: “I told you, I told you I would make them talk the Duke, the King and the Sir. Well the Duke went to the sir, said I got trou­bles on my mind Then they both went to the King who didn’t have no throne And if there be a King ev­ery­one will know Cause only a right­ful King can sit upon my fa­ther’s throne”. Three Against One told a sim­i­lar story: “Three against one, three against one Man it’s great to un­der­stand ’Cause the hot­ter the bat­tle the sweeter the vic­tory It was round three and they all were on bended knees”.


The story of the mu­si­cal war, or the ver­bal clashes, be­tween Buster and Der­rick Mor­gan un­folded around 1962 when Buster re­quested Mor­gan’s help (Mor­gan be­ing a more sea­soned cam­paigner in the mu­sic busi­ness) in the set­ting up of a mu­sic busi­ness. That busi­ness in­cluded a record store and the pro­duc­tion of record­ings for him­self and other artistes. Mor­gan obliged, and in ad­di­tion did two record­ings (Shake a Leg and Come On Over) to help bol­ster the busi­ness. Mor­gan, how­ever, didn’t spend much time with Buster, and in­stead moved on to the Chi­nese-Ja­maican Les­lie Kong and his Bev­er­ley’s la­bel set-up a few yards north along Orange Street. Kong was pay­ing twice as much. The move some­what in­fu­ri­ated Buster and led to the be­gin­ning of an ac­ri­mo­nious af­fair be­tween both men. The sit­u­a­tion was ex­ac­er­bated when Mor­gan recorded for Kong a song ti­tled For­ward March. In the record­ing, Headley Ben­nett in­cluded a sax­o­phone solo, which Buster claimed he cre­ated. These were the be­long­ings Buster claimed were stolen from him and given to the Chi­na­man. It sparked a se­ries of ex­changes, with Buster be­ing the first to put his cards on the ta­ble with: “You stole my be­long­ings and give to your Chi­na­man

God in heaven knows that you are wrong

Are you a Chiney­man or are you a Black Man?

It don’t need no eye­glass to see that your skin is black

Do you pre­fer Cle­ment ‘Sir Coxon’ Dodd Der­rick Mor­gan

your Chiney­man to your fel­low Black­man

Speak up friend, it’s plain to un­der­stand

It won’t be very long, they’ll have a change of plan to use you and then refuse you”, in the record­ing Black­head Chiney­man.

Mor­gan was quick to an­swer with:

“You said it, I am a black­head Chiney

but when I was with you, I was like a bull in a pen.

Live and let oth­ers live and you days will be much longer”, in the record­ing Blaz­ing Fire.

Buster then con­tin­ued the ex­changes with one ti­tled Praise With­out Raise, in which he stressed: “All you’re get­ting is praise, but the Chiney­man banking the raise.

Watch out black­head you’re get­ting praise with­out raise”.

Mor­gan hit back with No Raise No Praise as he sang:

“You also said I’m get­ting praise and no raise. Don’t con­ceal it friend to tell the pub­lic I was singing for you and I nei­ther get praise much less raise”.

There were a few more ex­changes be­fore things came to a head with Buster’s threat to re­lease Chi­nese Jacket, which re­ferred to Mor­gan’s Don’t Call Me Daddy. Mor­gan was some­what peeved by the threat, be­cause it was the first time that his name was be­ing called – “Der­rick go mind yu baby”.

In re­sponse Mor­gan warned Buster that, should be pro­ceed, he would re­lease one with the lyrics: “Buster while you were at sea I was along with B (Blos­som his wife)

and all your chil­dren have the mark of this black­head Chi­na­man”.

Buster re­lented, an agree­ment was reached and the mu­si­cal war ended.

Prince Buster

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