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.