RIP Harry Johnson (Wait–Who?)

We all owe quite a bit to Harry Johnson, who passed away this week at the age of 67.  Here’s why.

The roots of ska go back to the Jamaica of the 1940s, a time when locals began combining the island’s “mento” music with calypso and the music that drifted in from powerful American AM stations.  That meant R&B from the Deep South, Dixieland from New Orleans and Spanish tracks from Miami.

Ska evolved through the 50s and 60s before a group of musicians began to slow down the rhythms, creating a more langerous and (occassionally) more sinister sound.  By the late 60s, this music had a name:  reggae.

Harry Johnson is credited by many as the producer of the first-ever reggae single, which was a track by a group called The Belltones.  

And I think we all know how reggae took off.  No Harry Johnson, possibly no Bob Marley.

Read more about Harry at Billboard.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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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