Bob Marley’s Birthday Countdown 2012 Rare Full Rehearsal 1977

Bob Marley’s Birthday Countdown 2012

Each day up to Bob Marley’s Earthday on Feb, 6th I will feature something special.

Exodus Tour Rehearsal,

01.Burnin’ and Lootin’ (3:48)
02.I Shot the Sheriff (6:26)
03.Heathen (6:30)
04.So Much Things to Say (4:40)
05.Jamming (4:14)












Bob Marley and the Wailers live in Heidelberg, Germany


Bob Marley and the Wailers live in Heidelberg, Germany

The Exodus Tour began in Paris, France, on May 10, 1977.  The tour ended early in London with 4 shows being performed and 2 cancelled due to the toe injury Bob got during a soccer game in London.  The US part of the tour was also canceled. The last show of the tour has been released, labeled Live! at the Rainbow. It is reported that all four shows have been recorded and taped on video. At least 3 of the Rainbows shows in audio format circulate with Marley collectors one of which is almost instrumental since the vocals are so low in the mix.  Here is one of the rare non-official recordings from the tour. It features rare Photos from Heidelberg courtesy of Peter Sarowy who took these amazing pictures.

May 16, 1977

* Venue: Rhein-Neckar-Halle
* City: Heidelberg
* State/Province: Baden-Württemberg
* Country: Germany
* Recording Source Audience

Band lineup

* Bob Marley, vocals, rhythm guitar
* Aston Barrett, bass
* Carlton Barrett, drums
* Junior Marvin, lead guitar
* Tyrone Downie, keyboards
* Alvin “Seeco” Patterson, percussion
* The I-Threes, backing vocals

My Tape transfer notes: The recording is from my transfer. 


Burnin’ and Lootin’
War > No  More Trouble
No Woman NO Cry
Lively Up Yourself
I Shot the Sheriff

tape flip

Get Up, Stand Up > Exodus

To Listen just click each track.

To Download, right click of each track and save as.


Good audience recording.  Too bass heavy but vocals are strong. The first 1977 unofficial Bob Marley show I traded for long ago.
Another standout long version of Heathen and a great Lively Up Yourself. Both those songs are stand-outs during this tour.


Bob Andy and Alton Ellis Live and Direct from California 1980’s

Bob Andy and Alton Ellis Live and Direct from California

With the great recent blog on Bob Andy by Michael Watson called Ghost on Wax: Bob Andy’s Incomparable Song Book and my recent blog on Alton Ellis: The Godfather of Rocksteady, I thought I would share a few rare live tracks by these legends. These recordings have circulated with collectors for years and my guess is they originate from Roger Steffens collection. Big credit and thanks to him for his generosity towards reggae fans and collectors over the past 3 decades.


Bob Andy
Hollywood Palace
2/3/85 live in Los Angeles

Feeling soul

Feel the feeling

Fire Burning


Alton Ellis

Hollywood Palace
2/3/85 live in Los Angeles

I’m Still In Love with You/Breaking Up/I’m Just A Man

Sitting In The Park

Alton Ellis

1984-06 Live in Los Angeles

Still I Don’t Love You

Going Home (Bob Andy’s song)




Alton Ellis The Godfather of Rocksteady


Get Ready To Rock Steady

Many consider Alton the greatest Jamaican singer, and in Jamaica his voice is  even bigger than Bob Marley. Dennis Alcapone had this to say about Alton. “Alton was a bigger artist in Jamaica than Bob Marley. Everybody, even Bob, would love if he could sing like Alton Ellis. All of them would sit back and listen to Alton because Alton was the king.” His soulful voice spanned all genres of Jamaican Music from Ska, to Rocksteady , and Reggae as  Alton helped lay the foundation for Jamaican Music.

Alton Ellis came from Trenchtown, the same part of Kingston that was home to stars like Bob Marley. He and  his younger sister Hortense got their start as kids competing on Kingston talent shows like “Vere John’s Opportunity Hour.” In 1959, as half of the duo Alton & Eddie, he recorded the R&B-style scorcher “Muriel,” which became one of the first hit records for the pioneering local producer Clement Dodd.

Alton had many hits with Coxsone and also Duke Reid like  “Girl I’ve Got A Date,” “I’m Just a Guy” and his 1966 classic “Get Ready Rock Steady,” that ushered in a whole new style of music called Rock Steady. It is said that when the track was recorded Jackie Mitto had to fill in for the regular bass player and since that was not his regular instrument he had trouble keeping up with the fast ska beat, so he elected to slow down the tempo. Alton had several other major successes in 1966, including “Cry Tough” and the smash “Girl I’ve Got a Date,” the latter of which became his biggest hit and signature song.


Rock steady had  a mellower, slower more soulful sound that formed the bridge between the hard-driving brass of ska and  reggae. It was perfect for Altons sweet tenor voice.“Alton ruled the rock steady era,” Mr. Alcapone said. But Mr. Ellis’s influence did not stop there.

In 1969 his track “Get Ready Rock Steady” was used for “Wake the Town,” featuring DJ U-Roy which started the DJ revolution with it massive popularity. The instrumental track to Alton’s  composition “Mad Mad” became one of the most covered recordings in reggae history, and his 1967 composition “I’m Still in Love With You” was covered several times, most recently by the dancehall artists Sean Paul and Sasha, reaching No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot Singles chart in 2004.


Having been so ripped of by Jamaican producers, Alton moved to Canada then to England where he created his own Alltone label. He was also awarded Jamaica’s Order of Distinction in 1994 and was inducted into the International Reggae and World Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

A real pioneer of Jamaican Music and Hailed as the King Of Rock Steady, Alton may have been eclipsed by Marley and Reggae but to many he is truly greatest singer to come from Jamaica.

 Here is a very rare live clip of Alton Ellis.


What is the First Dub Album?

What is the First Dub Album?                

Dub music is a genre of music from Jamaica that developed in the early 70’s, but has its roots in B side’s or Versions which originate in the 60’s.  It is one of the many musical inventions that Jamaicans have given the world of music.  Instrumentals versions did not contain the effects that became synonymous with dub music. The emphasis on echo, reverb, panoramic delay and even sampling was more creative than just the drop out of vocals or an emphasis on the drum and bass common in early versions. The versions were mainly used for the massive popularity of DJ’s at the time that needed a blank riddim to chant over. The early dub producers like King Tubby, Herman Chin Loy, and Lee Perry saw the peoples interest in the version itself when it was mixed and mashed up into the dub style.

It was 1968 when Ruddy Redwoods went to Duke Reids to cut the first dub plate but the engineer accidentally left the vocal track out.  The instrumental track was played for the crowd at the dance that night and was a huge hit, so much so that Byron Lee when to King Tubby the next day to tell him he needed to make some instrumentals. King Tubby started playing around with the vocals and the instruments in the mix, leaving the vocals out, pumping up the bass, and basically early dub was born. But these instrumentals were not Dub. It wasn’t till Little Roy’s “Hard Fighter” recorded in March 1971 was released that the first vocal record with a full dub version on the flip B side existed.  Soon must singles had a dub version on the other side of the vocal side.  The popularity was there and innovative Jamaican mixing engineers were ready to start the new age of Dub Albums.  But the first so called dub albums were really instrumental albums since they did not contain any special effects or  sampling.

Aquarius Dub 

It wasn’t till 1971, 1972 that the first albums started to feature instrumental tracks like Java Java Dub in 1972 what would be the first instrumental LP if not for a few DJ tracks with toaster Crutches.  Augustus Pablo’s 1972 release This Is Augustus Pablo is the first complete instrumental LP but there is conflicting views on the date of its release as being from 1972 or 1973.

A few different albums would like to claim to be the first dub album being released close the same time in 1973.  Herman Chin Loy – Aquarius Dub, Lee Perry’s Blackboard Jungle Dub, and  Java Java Dub.  1974’s Pick A Dub by Keith Hudson is said to be the first thematically made dub release but Lee Perry’s Blackboard Jungle dub is more thematically expressive then Pick A Dub and was released a year earlier in 1973.  Aquarius Dub and Java Jah Dub are basically instrumental sets.  So is Blackboard Jungle or Pick A Dub the first Dub Album?  I would have to agree with Michael Veal who wrote “Dub, Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae” that Blackboard Jungle Dub was the first self contained and thematically consistent dub album.  Scratch used more innovative effects and sounds in his release and it would not be till King Tubby started releasing his Dub Albums that someone would use similar and more wild special effects.  So the award goes to Lee Perry and Blackboard Jungle Dub.  Now the research will look into which album was the first to have all it’s riddims and music created originally and specifically to make a dub album with no reuse of older riddims.

Blackboard Jungle Dub Tracks

Java Java Dub 1972 but not a complete Dub LP more a instrumental

Pick A Dub 1974 featuring members of the Wailers

Bob Marley And The Wailers, Not A Quiet Night in Chicago 1975

Many Bob Marley concerts circulate in trade circles with collectors, hardcore fans, and archivists, and of all those shows one of the best that has never been officially released is this epic show from the Quiet Knight in Chicago 1975.  It was on June 10th 1975 that Bob Marley And The Wailers performed their second of 2 nights at the Quiet Knight Club.

The Quiet Knight is now a hair salon.  It’s hard to believe the list of bands that played there, not only Bob Marley but Tom Waits, R.E.M., Prince, Run D.M.C., The Cramps, Bauhaus, The Stray Cats, Psychedelic Furs. The first Smashing Pumpkins show was there. And before then it was a mainstay for Chicago Blues with many blues legends playing there.  The Rolling Stones even showed up there after one of their shows to jam with Muddy Waters.

For me this show has been a treasured piece of history I have been enjoying for 3 decades now. Not only a wicked performance with Bob chanting back and forth with the crowd, but one of the best recordings in sound quality.  So good Starbucks did release a CD called Live 1973-1975 that contains Trenchtown Rock and Natty Dread. Those are omitted here do to being officially released. One of the most notable parts of the show is Bob doing the band introductions and really getting into it during I Shot The Sheriff.  Also the famous guy yelling from the crowd during Natty Dread is actually cool and enhances the feeling of being at a Bob live show.  Below are notes from Bob Marley
This Recording source below is from a PREFM tape, the best sounding source for this concert I have heard.

June 10, 1975

* Venue: Quiet Knight Club
* City: Chicago
* State/Province: Illinois
* Country: United States
* Recording Source Soundboard

Band lineup

* Bob Marley, vocals, rhythm guitar
* Aston Barrett, bass
* Carlton Barrett, drums
* Al Anderson, lead guitar
* Tyrone Downie, keyboards
* Alvin Patterson, percussion
* The I-Threes, backing vocals
* Lee Jaffe, harmonica


1. “Slave Driver”
2. “Trenchtown Rock”
3. “Concrete Jungle”
4. “Midnight Raver”
5. “Talkin’ Blues”
6. “Rebel Music (3 O’Clock Roadblock)”
7. “I Shot The Sheriff”

Band Intros
8. “Natty Dread”


    * 2 songs are used on the Starbucks official release Live 73-75
* second night at the Quiet Knight Club.
* band intros done by Bob Marley during “I Shot The Sheriff”.
* various bootlegs of this show have been released, like
“Jah Joys And Rainbows”, “Live In Chicago” or “The Last Club Tour ’75”,
and has also been aired on various radio stations.
* it is possible that more songs have been performed that evening.


Youtube Clip of the whole set.

Another Classic From the Dubwise Garage Collection.

Bob Marley Concerts Website, Livicated to Perserving the history of the most important live performer ever


Bob Marley Concerts is  a website livicated to the research, history, documentation, and preservation  of those special moments, Bob Marley performing live. Each Bob Marley show was unique and as fans and historians we are blessed so many were recorded for generations and generations to enjoy.  Why was Bob Marley the most important live performer ever?  No other artist has used the power of music to bring his message and philosophy to the world like Bob Marley.  At his peak performing live Bob was able to out-draw the Pope and blow headlines like the Commadores away with his shows. 

The site features a list of most known Bob concerts, many with set lists and photographs. reviews, cover art, collectors information, and the only place on the web you can listen to various tracks from many different concert performances by Bob Marley.  Most shows on Bob Marley Concerts are in their complete full form easy to listen to for the first time to the mass fans of the King of Reggae. Here is an example of a tribute page on Bob Marley Concerts about the Historic show in Milan, Italy 1980 which includes a setlist, review, and audio for all tracks  > LINK  Here

Here is War live from Milan 1980

The purpose of this site is to document the concerts for historical preservation and research. Bob Marley Concerts does not have any ads, it does not gain any monetary value from the site. The owner is only interested in sharing with the people of the world the works of one of the most influential figures in modern music. From the Beacon Th. in NYC, April 30th 1976 here is an amazing live version of  2. “Rastaman Chant” -> “Lion Of Judah” -> “Keep The Faith”




Click any photo to be taken to Bob Marley



Bob Marley & and The Wailers – Babylon By Bus Stops at the Paris Pavilion, Paris, France June 26, 1978

Bob Marley & The Wailers

A great show, not very common to collectors.  Some great intros to some of the songs like War. Bob is in a great mood, don’t miss this show.  Babylon By Bus is  a live album released by Bob Marley & The Wailers in 1978.  Most of the  tracks on that album are from  the 3 nights at the Pavillon de Paris from the  25-27th June 1978, during the Kaya Tour.   Bob did a great interview with Rock and Folk Magazine which is included here and also translated to English.
Paris Pavilion
Paris, France
June 26, 1978

aud > gen(x) > cdr(x) > eac (secure) > flacl (level 8)

01.Positive Vibration
02.Burnin and Lootin
03.Them Belly Full
04.Rebel Music
05.War > No More Trouble
06.Running Away > Crazy Baldheads
07.I Shot The Sheriff
08.No Woman No Cry
09.Is This Love?
11.Punky Reggae Party
12.Get Up Stand Up
13.Exodus (diagnose, gaps, abrupt end)

Thanks to Niteshift for this great show.

The tracks seem out of order. Burnin’ and Lootin’ sounds like the start of the show, with the crowd chanting for Marley. With the exception of some problems with Exodus, a fine show.

The pic directly above is not from Paris.

Rock & Folk’s Hervé Muller: Don’t you think the fact that you have spent a lot of time
away from Jamaica has changed your music?
Bob Marley: We are the ones who play it. It’s not Jamaica that plays
music for us (he bursts out laughing)
Hervé Muller: But you play for very different audiences, like the Paris one.
Bob: Yes but all these people want the music from Jamaica. Even in Paris
we can’t change the music we play. Do you see what I mean?

Hervé Muller: What about the presence of Junior (Marvin, the Wailers’ guitar
player)? Didn’t it stengthen the group?
Bob: Yes, Junior strengthened the group, Junior is easy

Hervé Muller: Do you mean as a man or as a musician?
Bob: Both. He is cool. We understand each other.

Hervé Muller: Do you think the Wailers line-up won’t change anymore?
Bob: Maybe that it will stay the same, maybe that it will change… I
think any change will be additional.

Hervé Muller: Horns?
Bob: (He suddenly laughs and gets excited) yeah mon! that’s it!

Hervé Muller: Would you like to have a horns rhythm section again, like in the
days of ska?
Bob: Yeah! Yeah mon! That would be great. Like in the days of ska. At
the time being, and since quite a long time, we have concentrated on the
rhythm. But now that everyone feels they are at the place in the rhythm,
we could use horns again… yeah.

Hervé Muller: The way your records are produced is rather different from most of
the Jamaican production. You have never really been into dub in particular.
Bob: Me? No, I have never really liked this dub stuff you know. Dub is
something else. We couldn’t follow the dub way because we prefer a music
that is like a message, you know. But dub is nice. I only start enjoying
it now.
Hervé Muller: Why are you recording again old songs like Kaya?
Bob: Mhh, Kaya, that’s a nice tune… the night we wrote it, Kaya, we were
in a remote part of the countryside. It was raining during the night and
we were in a very small house and… we didn’t have herb. That’s why we
sang : “gotta have kaya now for the rain is falling…”.
(“kaya” is one of the many names jamaicans use for marijuana).

Hervé Muller: When was it?
Bob: Around … 1970. Yes, 1970.

Hervé Muller: You have also recut much older songs, that date way back from the
ska days such as One Love. How does it feel to do a rendition of a tune
you wrote 10 or 15 years ago?
Bob: Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. it’s a matter
of vibrations. I couldn’t even know for One Love. Musically, I had never
felt it as good.
Hervé Muller: What about the lyrics?
Bob: It’s as if I understood them better now than the first time. The
first time is raw inspiration. The second time is comprehension… songs
evolve. I don’t know how or why. There are songs I don’t really
understand until I see the reactions they lead to in the street. Someone
else finds out their meaning, and I understand it in turn.
Hervé Muller: Do you consider the Wailers as now being Bob Marley’s band, or will
the other members contribute in a more active way?
Bob: Everybody is writing songs. Junior is writing an album. Tyrone
(Downie, the organ player) too…

Hervé Muller: Yes, but would they compose for the Wailers?*
Bob: Yes, if they want to. Everyone has to be free.

Hervé Muller: But the band’s line-up is different from the time when Bunny and
Peter were part of the Wailers, isn’t it?
Bob: Yeah mon, you can stay all your life in the same place you know.
Even trees grow (laughter)

Hervé Muller: Do you think you could work with them again one day?
Bob: Sure man, at any time…
Hervé Muller: Have you seen Peter (Tosh) since the problems he has experienced in
Jamaica (he was arrested and beaten by the police)?
Bob: Yes, it’s allright, cool.

*RF: What do you think when things like that happen?*
Bob: What happened to Peter? I think it’s nothing but ignorance…
ignorance on the police side.

Hervé Muller: You live again in Jamaica now, but you have been away for a long
time (after the shooting by the end of 1976)…*
Bob: Yes…

Hervé Muller: For too long?
Bob: No, just the right time.

Hervé Muller: The last time we met, you were about to go to Africa for the first
time. Did you finally go there?
Bob: No, not yet. But this time I will go (laughter)! No, this time it’s
true… I want to go to Nigeria, to Ghana, and one or two other places.
Hervé Muller: Here is again an old question: do you really think european
audiences understand all the rasta stuff?
Bob: I don’t know if they understand, but they have pretty good
reactions you know (he is laughing like a kid). That’s a reality, not a
joke or a dream. It may seem strange, but it’s not as strange as a
religion because rasta is a reality. It’s difficult for people who have
undergone and accepted brainwashing to understand what I and I, the
rastas, say. We are going beyond what we have taught you (…) To be rasta
is to live a life in which you are always happy. But rasta know
the whole world will fight them…

*RF: The last time we met, you told me that if reggae singers now sing
rasta songs, that’s because everybody loves rastas.*
Bob: Yes, but not EVERYbody. As far as I am concerned, the more people
talk about it, the better it is… people know there is a lot of fights in
the world, but they can’t explain why. Everybody fights, but at the same
time nobody wants to ackowledge any explanation. There is something bad
in it, psychologically. If we fight, we should be able to explain why.
Otherwise… (he has a little smile that concludes his speech)
Hervé Muller: Do you think people who like your songs understand all of this in
Bob: Many people can appreciate what we are trying to say. I never give
up believing in the people, because that’s all we have you know… when I
was born, I have been taught the same thing that everybody, until I
found by myself that there was something else. It happens at a different
time for each one of us.

Hervé Muller: Do you think jamaican musicians who have been raised in London,
like Steel Pulse, have a different approach of reggae?
Bob: They try… because reggae, out of any analysis or interview, is a
feeling. And anybody has that feeling you know, that timing… that’s
reggae: a very special feeling and timing. All reggae musicians have it.
It’s something very deep. When we (the Wailers) started to record songs
like Duppy Conqueror, we did it in a clean and professional way. The
feeling is there, but is professional. It couldn’t be accepted on the
worldwide record market without becoming professional. One or two of us
had to do it so that the world could appreciate it, do you see what I mean?

Hervé Muller: Do you mean reggae musicians have become more professional?
Bob: Yes, they didn’t have the choice.

Hervé Muller: But didn’t they lose something in that process?
Bob: I don’t see what they have lost in it (laughter). But I can see
what they have won!

Thank s to Bob Marley Magazine and my wife for translation help.

Aston Barrett Jr. Keepin’ The Wailers Torch Burning Strong

Aston Barrett Jr. Keepin’ The Wailers Torch Burning Strong.


Aston Barrett Jr. has been playing music most his life. He grew up around some of reggae music’s greatest musicians and comes from the bloodlines of the greatest rhythm section from Jamaica (Father Familyman and Uncle Carly Barrett) and grandfather Joe Higgs.  Aston plays many instruments but his focus and passion is for the bass guitar. Now playing and touring with the Wailers, Aston is keeping the legacy of his fathers and uncles  music alive learning everything he can about uncle’s drumming style and technique.

Recently Aston told me this about his musical focus. “O yes well really am a bass player but as you know Carlton is my Uncle and he’s a Barrett my Full blood Uncle and am here to keep the Barrett sound Alive and to do that i need to learn the old school and the New school then bring it to the next level. So for me to learn more i need as much videos and tapes of both my Father and Uncle to keep it and to teach it. Because Its Positive Muzic. I spell music with a Z because its Powerful its not sick lol as my father would say”.


From Aston’s myspace page:




You can check Aston on tour with The Wailers.

The “Revolution Tour”

The Wailers will perform a set that includes their more socially conscious material including “Get Up, Stand Up” “War” and songs of that nature.

Here’s the West Coast dates and towns plus you can look at the complete tour dates here

01.13.12 8:00 pm
The Canyon Theatre
Agoura Hills, CA

01.14.12 9:00 pm
Moe’s Alley Blues Club
Santa Cruz, CA

01.15.12 8:00 pm
The New Parish
Oakland, CA

01.17.12 8:00 pm
Crystal Ballroom
Portland, OR

01.18.12 8:00 pm
Seattle, WA

01.19.12 8:00 pm
The Venue Vancouver
Vancouver, BC

01.20.12 7:59 pm
The Knitting Factory – Spokane
Spokane, Washington


Joe Higgs, The Father of Reggae

 From my Joe Higgs Tribute Page . Below is a piece by Marcia Higgs and also info. from Wiki.

Who is JOE HIGGS and why was he dubbed

– Marcia Higgs

According to reggae music history, in the early 1950s through 1960s, when it was virtually impossible for the residents of TRENCH TOWN and other neighboring communities to even be considered for “menial” jobs in Jamaica’s main-stream work force, it was JOE HIGGS that these “other” underprivileged ghetto outcasts would ultimately turn to for musical guidance. Though a youth himself at the time, this self-taught musical prodigy was said to have converted his 19 THIRD STREET, TRENCH TOWN, tenement backyard into a sort of musical training camp, where he would teach his peers some of the lessons
he had learned. These music lessons, or “jam-sessions” as they were commonly called, were often rigorous in voice technique, breath control, harmony structuring, effective song-writing, and of course, learning to play the “box” guitar.

 Joe Higgs (born Joseph Benjamin Higgs, 3 June 1940 – 18 December 1999) was a reggae musician from Jamaica. In the late 1950s and 1960s he was part of the duo Higgs and Wilson together with Roy Wilson. He was a popular artist in Jamaica for four decades and is also known for his work tutoring younger musicians including The Wailers and Jimmy Cliff.

Higgs was instrumental in the foundation of modern Jamaican music, first recording in 1958 for producer and businessman (and later Jamaican Prime Minister) Edward Seaga, both as a solo artist and with Roy Wilson. He is often called the “Godfather of Reggae”. His first release (with Wilson) was “Oh Manny Oh” in 1958, which was one of the first records to be pressed in Jamaica and went on to sell 50,000 copies. Higgs and Wilson also recorded for Clement “Coxsone” Dodd in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The partnership with Wilson dissolved in 1964 when Wilson emigrated to the United States. Higgs then concentrated on a solo career and also worked with Carlos Malcolm and the Afro-Jamaican Rhythms, before joining Lynn Taitt’s The Soul Brothers as lead vocalist.

Higgs mentored young singers in his yard and began working with Bob Marley in 1959. In fact, it was at one of the informal music lessons Joe Higgs held in Trench Town, that Bob and Bunny Livingston met Peter Tosh.[3][4] Marley acknowledged later on that Higgs had been an influential figure for him, while Higgs described their time together: “I am the one who taught the Wailers the craft, who taught them certain voice technique”. It was Higgs who introduced the Wailers to Dodd in 1963 Higgs has also been described as the “Father of Reggae” by Jimmy Cliff. For a while Higgs toured with Cliff, acting as his bandleader as well as writing songs for Cliff including “Dear Mother”, and also performed with The Wailers on their US tour when Bunny Wailer refused to go on the tour in 1973. Higgs wrote “Steppin’ Razor” in 1967 as his entry in the Festival Song Contest, later recorded by Tosh without crediting Higgs. Higgs later won a court case to establish his rights as composer but never received any profits from the song’s success.

Higgs won the Jamaican Tourist Board Song Competition in 1972 with “Invitation to Jamaica”, released as a single on his own Elevation label, and much of his best-known solo work was issued in the 1970s. Singles included “More Slavery” (released on Micron), “Creation” (Ethnic Fight), “Let Us Do Something” (Elevation), and “World Is Upside Down” (Island). His debut album, Life of Contradiction, had been recorded in 1972 for Island Records, but as Island boss Chris Blackwell felt that it would be difficult to market it remained unreleased until 1975, when it was issued by Micron Music and has been described as “a seminally sophisticated work combining reggae, jazz, and rhythm and blues influences to create a new texture that would have a profound effect on the best Jamaican music to follow”.  As well as The Wailers, Higgs also helped several other singers and groups including The Wailing Souls. His second album, Unity Is Power, was released in 1979 and further singles followed on Cliff’s Sunpower label and Bunny Wailer’s Solominic imprint.His 1983 single “So It Go”, with a lyric critical of the Jamaican government of the day was banned from airplay and led to harassment which would eventually lead to Higgs relocating to Los Angeles, where he lived for the rest of his life. Two further albums were released in the 1980s, Triumph (1985) and Family (1988), and in 1990 he recorded Blackman Know Yourself on which he was backed by the Wailers Band, and includes covers of the Marley/Lee Perry songs “Small Axe” and “Sun Is Shining”. In 1995, his final album was issued, Joe and Marcia Together, a collaboration with his daughter.

A majority of Higgs’ songs were connected to his impoverished life in Trenchtown where he grew up. Higgs considered that it was out of the poverty and violence of Kingston’s shantytowns such as Trenchtown and Johnstown that the reggae music had grown. Before reggae hit big on the western music scene with Bob Marley, it was understood as a “ghetto music”. Higgs was the very first artist out the ghetto music scene to have lyrics which primarily dealt with every day troubles. In his own words:

“Music is a matter of struggle. It’s not good that it’s known you’re from Trenchtown. Reggae is a confrontation of sound. Reggae has to have that basic vibrant sound that is to be heard in the ghetto. It’s like playing the drum and bass very loud. Those are the basic sounds. A classical reggae should be accepted in any part of the world. Freedom, that’s what it’s asking for; acceptance, that’s what it needs, and understanding, that’s what reggae’s saying. You have a certain love come from hard struggle, long suffering. Through pain you guard yourself with that hope of freedom, not to give up…””

Higgs died of cancer on 18 December 1999 at Kaiser Hospital in Los Angeles.[2] At the time of his death he was working with Roger Steffens on an official biography, and had been working on a collaboration with Irish artists for the Green on Black album.He was survived by twelve children, including his daughter Marcia, who is a rapper, and son Peter, a studio guitarist.

In 2007, the Joe Higgs Music Awards were established in his honour.

Tons more pictures and live music on my website tribute to Joe Higgs  HERE



 Here is a  great interview from the Reggae Beat Radio show from KCRW in Santa Monica, CA

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