Justin Hinds was and is considered one of the best singers from the ska era of Jamaican Music. A native of Sheer Town, Justin’s beautiful and unique tenor voice made him the most popular artist in Jamaican in 1963 with his #1 hit for Duke Reid “Carry Go Bring Come” that is said to have been done in just one take. From 1963 to 1966 Justin and his band the Dominos released a prolific 70 singles that included hits like “King Samuel,” “On The Last Day”, “Jump Out of the Frying Pan,” “The Ark” and “Rub Up Push Up.”
He continued with hits in the rock steady era and parted with Reid in 1972. In 1976 he released one of reggae best albums Jezebel produced by Jack Ruby with hits like Natty Take Over, Prophecy and a remake of Carry Go Bring Home.
He followed that LP with another classic Just In Time in 1978. Nighthawk Records in the US also released a great LP Travel With Love recorded at Tuff Gong Studios in 1984 which featured tracks like Get Ready Rock Steady, Travel With Love, and Weeping Eyes. Justin became less active after 1984 and did not ever leave Jamaica until 1997 to play shows in the US. Here is a very rare clip of Justin performing on that tour.
In 1992 he did return to the studio the last time for the album Know Jah Better but did stay active in with his collaboration with Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and Wingless Angels project. Keith Richards said this about Justin, “ When he comes to mind or when you hear his voice, you get a nice warm glow. He was always incredibly attuned to what was going on around him,. And the thing I she wasn’t really reggae. He was more rocksteady or ska – that’s what he was into”. And in the session with Keith and the Wingless Angles Justin was very into the Nyabinghi sound. The main purpose for these roots session with Keith was to chill out, drum and smoke ganja Nyabinghi style. This years Grammy’s will be the first time a Nyabinghi album will be up for a Grammy with the Wingless Angles 2 being nominated.
Brian Jobson (bass player and producer on Wingless Angles 2) said this about Justin. ” he was one of a kind, really. And he was the first one from our area, as it were, before Ernie Smith and Bob Marley and Burning Spear Most of the musician before that were from Kingston or lived in Kingston, but he lived in the country and just went to Kingston and did his stuff, and always came back and had his little place in Steer Town. He was like the Don or Godfather of the community there”
Brian’s brother Wayne Jobson said this about Justin, “Basically Justin Hinds was the godfather of Jamaican music- one of the all-time greats. He helped to invent ska in the early day with Carry Go Bring Come and then later on he helped to develop rock steady with The Higher The Monkey Climbs and then he really helped to bring reggae to the world with the Jezebel album with Jack Ruby, who was Burning Spears producer.”
Justin appears in this great documentary by a student Mark Gorney called Before Reggae Hit The Town. A rare clip is included here.
Justin Hinds passing away quietly at his Jamaican home on March 16, 2005. He suffered from lung cancer. His music and impact on those that knew him will live on.