Prince Buster, The King of Ska, Dead at 78

When a bunch of British punk fans became enamoured with the music of Jamaican immigrants in cities like Coventry, some of the first songs they learned about came from Cecil Bustamente Campell, the man they called Prince Buster.

Born in Kingston, Buster was one of the prime movers of the rise of ska and rocksteady throughout the 1960s, a sound that was resurrected in the post-punk years. Madness took their name from a Prince Buster song. You’ll find their cover of that track on the B-side of their single, “The Prince” which was about him.

The first single from The Specials was “Gangsters,” which is a slightly reorganized version of the Prince Buster song, “Al Capone.” The car horn sample at the beginning is taken directly from the original recording from 1964.

So Prince Buster was an important influence on the post-punk ska kids. But what about Buster himself? The Guardian has this look back at this career, which includes his five most essential songs–like this one.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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