An event­ful 1969 in Ja

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - broy­al_2008@ya­

THE YEAR 1969 was event­ful in Ja­maica’s his­tory. The year saw the ster­ling sys­tem be­ing re­placed by the dec­i­mal sys­tem of dol­lars and cents. in Septem­ber. The Wail­ers re­sponded to the change with the record­ing The Pound Get A Blow – a record­ing that brought out the best in the trio as they sang: “This de­val­u­a­tion It cause an erup­tion The pound get a blow Oh what a de­struc­tion Pre­pare for star­va­tion Cost of liv­ing get high I said the pound get low Re­mem­ber I told you You gonna bend down low”. Their pre­dic­tion seemed to be cor­rect, be­cause the Ja­maica dol­lar even­tu­ally got a blow, hav­ing weak­ened to its present low of ap­prox­i­mately J$129 to US$1. The ex­change rate in 1969 was J$1.20 to US$1,

Also in 1969, Toots Hib­bert was well equipped to give full ex­pres­sion to what a coun­try wed­ding is like. He did so, with his se­cond win­ning fes­ti­val song that year – Sweet And Dandy. With its coun­try flavour and mento and reg­gae lean­ings, the record­ing be­came one of the best known and most loved Ja­maican fes­ti­val songs. Toots tells the story of two ner­vous ru­ral lovers wait­ing to ‘tie the knot: “Et­tie in a room a cry Mama say she mus wipe

her eye” While, “John­son in a room a fret Un­cle say him mus hol up im head” The year 1969 also saw new pro­duc­ers on the scene like Lee Perry, Clancy Ec­cles and Win­ston Ri­ley inventing some new styles, seem­ingly to chal­lenge the dom­i­nance of Duke Reid and Cle­ment Dodd. A prime ex­am­ple of this is the Wail­ers’ Duppy Con­queror, backed by Perry’s Upset­ters band. Perry, a skill­ful mu­sicmixer

and a shrewd record pro­ducer, sent reg­gae in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion with other Wail­ers’ cuts like Small Axe, Kaya, Sun Is Shining and African Herb­s­man.

In Oc­to­ber of that year The Upset­ters en­tered the top five of the Ja­maican charts with Re­turn of Django, while the Harry J All Stars sat at num­ber nine with Liq­uida­tor.

In 1969 Des­mond Dekker and the Aces’ Is­raelites cre­ated his­tory and placed Ja­maica firmly in the in­ter­na­tional spot­light when it be­came the first Ja­maican record­ing to reach num­ber one on the Bri­tish charts.

While the mu­sic was still in full blast in 1969, the nation was wit­ness­ing the in­stal­la­tion of the first set of Na­tional Heroes in the per­sons of Paul Bogle, George Wil­liam Gor­don and Mar­cus Mosiah Gar­vey. Nor­man Man­ley, who passed away that Septem­ber and his Fred­er­ick ‘Toots’ Hib­bert cousin, Alexan­der Bus­ta­mante joined the ranks and were hon­oured at the first cer­e­mony.

The le­gendary Ja­maican trom­bon­ist Don Drum­mond, joined Man­ley as two of the most iconic Ja­maican fig­ures to have passed away in 1969. Drum­mond’s mu­si­cal jour­ney, as per school records shown to me by the late Sis­ter Ig­natius, be­gan at the Al­pha Boys School as a nine year-old on De­cem­ber 10, 1943. Two years after ad­mis­sion, he was placed in the school band and taught the most awk­ward of in­stru­ments – the trom­bone.

He mas­tered it in al­most ‘no time’ and soon be­gan to en­ter­tain his peers and teach­ers with sharp, crisp mul­ti­ple short notes. After grad­u­a­tion he joined the then fa­mous Eric Deans All Stars band as the trom­bon­ist, hon­ing his mu­si­cal tal­ents to the ex­tent that by the mid1950s he was rated the best of his kind in the land. His

mu­si­cal ar­range­ments like East­ern Stan­dard Time, Mu­sic Is My Oc­cu­pa­tion,

Con­fu­cius and oth­ers, have helped to shape Ja­maica’s popular mu­sic.


Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry


Nor­man Man­ley (left) and Sir Alexan­der Bus­ta­mante.

Bunny Wailer (left), Bob Mar­ley (cen­tre), and Peter Tosh as The Wail­ers.

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