In a world which still tries to force the evil and false philosophy of white supremacy down the throat of the people, they would have us believe that Bob Marley is bigger than Reggae because of his white father. The truth is, while Bob Marley gained international fame and fortune from reggae music, he pales in comparison to some of the real geniuses of Reggae music.
Today we look at The Skatalites.
In 1963, one of the most talented group of all time, across all genres was formed in Jamaica and they were called The Skatalites. As their name would suggest, these guys are the foundation of ska, the music that gave birth to rocksteady which in turn gave birth to reggae.
The Skatalites recorded for almost every producer on the island at the time including arch-rivals Duke Reid and Clement “Coxson” Dodd.
One of the songs that announced them was Eastern Standard Time, an instrumental produced by Reid, a former policeman who operated the Treasure Isle label. It was composed by Don Drummond, a talented but troubled trombonist who learned music at the Alpha Boys’ Home in Kingston, which today is known as Alpha Institute.
His bandmates were just as accomplished: saxophonists Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso and Lester Sterling; trumpeter Johnny “Dizzy” Moore; drummer Lloyd Knibb; Jackie Mittoo, a prodigy on organ; Lloyd Brevett on bass; and guitarist Jerome “Jah Jerry” Haynes.
On vocals were Barbadian Jackie Opel and Doreen Schaeffer.
The Skatalites cut countless gems including Freedom Sounds, Confucius, and Guns of Navarone. They also backed other artistes including a young group named The Wailers on their 1964 breakthrough song, Simmer Down.
After Drummond was arrested for the murder of his girlfriend on New Year’s Day, 1965, The Skatalites’ memorable first run ended. He died at the Bellevue asylum in 1969.
Members of The Skatalites filtered into two influential groups: Alphonso led The Soul Vendors which was Dodd’s house band, while McCook directed The Supersonics at Treasure Isle.
Following a reunion at Reggae Sunsplash in 1983, The Skatalites began touring the world, playing to legions of fans, and were nominated for a Grammy Award.
Now 81, Sterling is the sole survivor of the original line-up.
So why isn’t The Skatalites talked about by Jamaicans the way Bob Marley is? Because their mothers and fathers were both Black so they never got the stamp of approval from white people. Unfortunately, most Black people (especially in Jamaica) only value what white people tell them is valuable.