Q: Yes.

A: So, you no listen to critics, or wha' (is) critics, you listen to the band. Man used to say 'dem wrong', dem say 'Bunny Lee an' him drunkard musician', beca' me couldn't afford the big guys dem, the big guy whe all over the place. Me get my lickle organis', like a guy name' Glen Adams, use' him one finger until... him mek use of it like the big guys dem couldn't do. We changed the sound. The big guys dem, if dem waan eat them haffe start wha' we do. Man dance to wha' him like, him no dance chord! A to E-flat an' B to B-minor, man jus' dance! Music wha' dem like. So the music become... more an' more an' more youths join in an' a lotta more singers, an' when we tek it a Englan' to the people dem now, a we break it inna Englan' here, Pama an' Island an' Blue Beat. Then we turn to America an' Canada.

Q: How was the market in Toronto in those days?

A: Not too bad. You use' to have Pete Weston did just leave Micron an' did jus' start the Micron Music company, an' you did 'ave a lickle guy up there name' Cookie (Chin) now. Canada was always a small market. Beca' man use' to leave from Canada an' go down inna New York an' go buy record, ca' New York was the bigger market. In the rest a the States, dem catch on.

Q: I wanted to ask you about creative juices flowing and how you interacted among the congregation of players; your pool of musicians in the studio, did you let them come up with something or you had them pick up your stuff, basically?

A: Well, you use' to have people like Bobby Aitkens. Through dem waan get good like Lynn Taitt an' dem people, dem play wha' you want. Them try fe please you instead of one do all 'Take Five', it called 'Russians Are Coming' now an' dem seh "Uh!?", dem tell me seh "No man!" "Any tune yu can play fast it can rock, slow it dung, we a go do this, 'Take Five', rock steady". Classic today, an' Bobby dem say "Mek we try it, man, on the drummer" - an' it work. So, it was not a case of musician jus' pick up everyt'ing an' gone through the door, beca' through him is a big-timer yu cyaan talk to him. Them guys was the underdog whe me use'. So dem waan them name big out deh like Lynn Taitt & The Comets or Lynn Taitt & The Jets. Beca' right now Bobby Aitkens build one o' the bigges' reggae riddims of all time, dem even put him bassman name 'pon it, Laurel White - 'My Conversation'. In every era dem version that riddim. Bobby Aitkens & The Carib-Beats, '67. Anywhere that Slim Smith tune put on - bam! The big guys never stop version them tune deh. So when you hear critic a talk, even the other day a tune do with 'She's Royal', right?

Bobby Aitken.

Lyn Taitt & The Jets.

Q: Tarrus Riley.

A: Yeah, the riddim dem jus' a thief offa Delroy riddim an' jus' do it over, a Delroy Wilson riddim but Dean Fraser as a musician fe a different horn phrase an' t'ing, but nuff people no know seh is offa dat. Beres Hammond, him is a man whe love do over people riddim an' change the horn phrase an' the t'ing an' call it different name. If yu no understan' fe yourself dem tek 'way your publishing too. Delroy a no alive fe claim it.

Q: When you suddenly get successful, a lot of people tend to flock around you, wanting various things, each one taking a little piece off you, if they can. How did you handle all the hangers-on back in those days?

A: Same way, man, same way until now. You jus' deal with people as a individual. You no mek yu head get big an' gwaan like yu better than dem. Like you mek outta iron an' dem man mek outta hay... you deal with everybody, as a man. The whole a we a one, yunno. Some man might be passionate more than some or dem t'ing deh, so... But some a the other producers an' dem t'ing, all when dem come a Englan', me start the trend an' mek man know dem can come a Englan'. Me come an' tek five hundred pound from Pama an' give Ital Records fe him start, to stop hangin' aroun' Coxson an' other studios, that's how him could a do him own t'ing. Me never do it fe myself alone, me spread out. You always haffe look out fe your people dem aroun' you. So, more time it nutten hard fe handle. It come in easier. An' a man come with idea, an' seh, "Bwoy, Striker, how this sound?" Me seh, "Hold on deh! Stitch, yu 'ave ideas - try it!" Right? An' me go inna the control an' listen an' me listen to wha' they have an' me seh, "Mek we do it the Stitchie way". So variety is the spice of life. Ca' wha' the other man dem did a gwaan with, Stitchie idea come up better. So, a so it go. That's why most of my t'ing no sound alike. A musician come with idea, yu mek 'im work out him idea an' try it. An' if yu no like it yu still take it. An' you take one a your idea. Sometime in the end a musician waan the t'ing I prefer. An' it - boom! - go out deh an' it's a big hit. Beca' is a wheel, yunno, if it go an' yu no fix the wheel the wheel a go bad until the whole wheel mash up. So you listen to every man, treat every man 'round you as a man, listen to wha' dem haffe say. It come like the other day I go somewhere an' hear some man mek a tune, with Ambelique, an' them ask me opinion. I say: "Well, keep that, that sound good. Tek a nex' cut". The guy jus' come 'pon it an' say: "Bwoy, me no old-time producer, me no waan no advise 'pon it". All now dem cyaan get it back, dem wipe it off. So when dem get one-two an' see wha' dem a ask me, wha' me t'ink, me say me a old-time producer, yunno, me no do anyt'ing, me no waan hear nutten. The new guys, dem too big-headed an' think them know it all an' dem no know nutten. Some a dem is Mr Know It All.

Q: (Laughs) I guess that's right.

A: Yeah.

I Roy & King Tubby ( 1978)
(Photo: Syphilia Morgenstierne).

Q: Tell me about your working relationship with (King) Tubbys, how did that start? I don't know exactly when he opened up his studio, or when he acquired the old board from Dynamic, circa '71 or so?

A: No, it start before, right. The studio dem a get too busy, an' Tubbys have a lickle place up deh with some curtains, him a go play 'gainst Tippatone an' me deh come a Englan', an' me seh "Tubbs, we can do special". All dem 'special' business whe man a talk, a me start that, yunno. Can voice some tune in there with Roy Shirley an' some more man. An' me bring up somet'ing. Me did carry U Roy come up after him tour with Mrs King an' U Roy... Tubbs a fret now beca' him is 'is deejay at the time an' Big Youth a clap now! Big Youth a clap on Tippatone sound an' the man Tippatone a go play. So me seh "No man, me have a deejay inna Spanish Town name' I Roy, man, whe sound like him imitate U Roy. That a no problem, an' jus' go an' pick up I Roy an' mek 'im familiar with the dubs, an' on the Sunday night the dance was a success. I Roy use' to do deejay one or two t'ing fe Moodies, but that night I Roy mek 'im name. Ca' if him coulda go up 'gainst Big Youth an' Big Youth was the biggest t'ing away from U Roy now, him an' Dennis Alcapone an' Dennis Alcapone did live a Englan' at the time now, so I Roy come on an' stand up! I wasn't at the dance the night beca' I did fly out, but him do a special name' the 'Iron Gate', man, an' one name' 'Joe Frasier' - 'Joe Razor', with Roy Shirley. So we start voice tune deh. Use' to make the riddim an' Tubbs put dem 'pon two-track firs' until it a go on... Tubbs mek a lickle board an' we start do most of Slim Smith firs' album, up deh me voice' it an' mix it. Beca' through Tubbs did a cut dub now we did give 'im 'pon dubplate, give it fe 'im custumer. So when Byron Lee change out the board now, Byron seh the t'ing a tek up space an' me jus' a seh, "Byron, I woulda get this fe Tubbys an' we go pay fe it later". An' I go an' tell Tubbs an' him get it - an' the res' is history.
Q: You went over there because, in many ways, it was a lot cheaper to voice at Tubbys?

A: Yeah man, beca' we set it up in a lickle bathroom now an' put some eggshell an' somet'ing inna Tubbs now, an' start voice. From inna the early days before him get the board. From we do the special, Tubbs did 'ave some velvet curtain, an' we draw them an' him tu'n down the t'ing low an' yu plug in you earphone an' you listen the riddim an' get the riddim through it, an' voice. So we start voice tune until we start carry 'Scratch' up deh too, an' the whole a we start an' the nex' t'ing yu know, King Tubbys born till the 'version' t'ing come in now. An' we start use up the t'ing 'pon the board now, whe dem other engineer t'ink a 'decoration', yunno, an' start get the 'chukho chukho'. You know when the drum an' bass come in? You 'ave a man sing somet'ing wrong, yunno, an' yu jus' mek 'im sing an' when you mix it yu jus' drop out dem part a de riddim. When the chord change an' de man dem clash - an' people start follow we an' do it, y'know. An' then Tubbys an' Ruddys deh a Duke Reid a cuttin' some 'soft wax' you call it dem days, and Smithy (Byron Smith, sound engineer at Treasure Isle studio) mek a mistake an' leave out de riddim - I mean the voice, an' him a go stop it an' Ruddy seh "Don't stop it, jus' one. Tek the riddim". An' then him tek the vocal after that now, right. An' the night - man a Spanish Town man, me seh me haffe go over there an' me see Ruddy put it on, man. Him put on the singin' part an' seh "Me goin' play part two!" An' so when him put on that, man, the song was a easy song as they 'ear it, so everybody start sing 'pon the pure riddim an' the deejay start talk over it, man! An' then me seh "Bwoy, Tubbs, yu see the joke whe wha' 'appen up by Duke studio the other night, we haffe go do it, y'know". Ruddy pop down Spanish Town with it, the riddim, so we start do it now. I got Slim Smith 'Ain't Too Proud To Beg', we start with the singin' an' lick in the riddim an' tek out the voice an' people start seh "Bwoy, Tubbys have a amplfier weh can tek out the voice outta the riddim", so everybody flock to Tubbys' sound. But a the sof' wax, dem cut da way deh (giggles). So, U Roy start play all six piece of one tune. When you come with it again U Roy seh "Come with another version, Rasta!" An' me say 'Rooyyy, a de name dat'. Then the name 'version' was born. Plenty a de guy dem seh we a drop out all riddim after the vocal, them nuh know why we do it, dem jus' follow an' it become a way of life, ca' we set the trend, man. We do a whole heap a t'ing. Coxson dem start follow too - everybody!

Q: What do you recall as being the very first dub album, was it 'Aquarius Dub'?

A: Nah man, 'Roots of Dub' by King Tubbys! Tune will sell like 45 whe introduce dat. Tubbys mek a tune, mix a dub an' play a version an' put behind a tune name' 'Roots of Dub' - I mean 'Psalms of Dub' fe a guy name' (Carlton) Patterson, an' the tune become a hit. Every time you go Randy's (record store) an' dem hear 'do do wup do do wup do do wup chek chek', an' people like tek offa de dub. So you start put the dub dem 'pon the record. Some a the dub dem people like it even more than the vocal. I rememba I do a Johnny Clarke vocal an' I never liked the riddim, how I do it, beca' when me deh ya a man seh a finger with the control now an' tek it off, man, an' the tune jus' stop. Then Miss Pat seh "Bwoy, Bunny, yu cyaan do a t'ing like dat, people dem waan de one whe de tune come out with". So me haffe go cut it back 'pon a record, y'understan', an' transfer it an' put it 'pon a tape. Because is jus' a t'ing me try, yunno, an' it come out dat way, when dem machine ya a trouble de control room - but the people dem love it. Come like 'Have Some Mercy' with Delroy Wilson; Niney a trouble de control an' it come out like seh... (imitates a specific 'cut up' sound in the studio). It's like dem t'ings deh.

Q: Trends can often start from mistakes.

A: Yeah man, nuff mistake. Look how much tune a mek from my mistake. When Derrick Morgan 'ave a tune, we do the riddim at Duke Reid an' Roland (Alphonso) up by Coxson studio an' me go up deh, an' seh "Rol', me waan do a instrumental", an' Roland seh "Bwoy, yu waan carry the riddim back?" An' me seh "No, Rolie, we a do it 'pon the spot - vibes!" An' Derrick say 'Here comes Roland solo with one thousand tons of megaton - hook mammy an' reggae now!' An' Roland start 'panaana panaana' an' Derrick beside him a dance an' a split an'... One a de time the engineer stop it, me seh, "How come Mr (Sylvan) Morris, wha' yu stop it for?" Him seh, "Bwoy...", an' me seh, "No stop nutten wha' me a do until me tell yu seh fe stop it!" Tek it down wha' we a do again an' fe Derrick a mek a mistake inna it an' me jus' signal to 'im an' seh "Continue!" Up to now man a dance to mistake. Derrick was like - the way him should a say 'What the farmer said to the potato; I plant yu now an' dig yu later'.

Q: (Laughs)

A: But Roland a bubble! So me jus' tek it, an' when de tune come out, man... a hit! Roland Alphonso bigges' hit! All a dem big tune wha' him do fe Coxson never sell like 'Everybody Need Love', the version a it; 'One Thousand Tons of Megaton'. Yu rememba dat tune?

Q: Yes.

A: Any time yu see it you listen it an' yu hear the mistake wha' Derrick make, an' me jus' mek it go through...

Q: ...and you called it 'style'.

A: Yeah man, every spoil is a 'style'. Nuff tune me do dat, man, an' me tell the engineer "Don't stop it, mek it go on!"

Q: Another thing I'd like to hear about is, when you had so much hits, success over a longer period, why didn't you reach the level of building your own studio back in, say, the mid seventies?

A: A me buy Joe Gibbs' firs' studio, me lock up dat fe 'bout fourteen or fifteen years. 'Cause me use' to work 'round a Tubbys. If me work a Tubbys yu 'ave a crowd a go follow me, any studio when me deh-deh a crowd there, yunno.

Q: Because there was talk in the mid 1970s that Vulcan Records and Phonogram, they 'almost' invested in a studio for you back in '76 or so?

A: No man, Eddy Grant mek dem wind up Vulcan Record when Trojan mash up. Somebody sign me name seh dem give me twenty thousand, right, fe buy a studio, equipment, an' nutten never go so. An' me tell Eddy Grant, an' Eddy Grant go down deh an' him know the boss an' him wind up Vulcan with... That was Junior Lincoln an' Webster Shrowder. Them guys deh a crook, man, dem guys deh was fe themself, yunno. An' dem put out some big LP an' some good t'ings. Me start a company name' Klik, Pama Record, Jamaica Sound Record, yu name it.

Q: Joe Sinclair ran Klik, after he left Trojan and their bankruptsy in '75?

A: Joe Sinclair? Was a man name' Larry Sevitt own it (Jamaica Sound), it was the man whe use' to check it.

Q: So that never materialised in the seventies. But you did actually get a studio together in the eighties, like you said.

A: Yeah man, me had a studio from inna the seventies, beca' Joe Gibbs' firs' studio, a me did buy it. But as I say, I never bother. I did sell Channel One the machine. I never bother beca' through me 'ave Tubbys' studio an' if me did start me own studio, the crowd... Because 'Scratch' did start a studio, Larry Sevitt bought two board; one fe me an' one fe 'Scratch'. Me mek him buy the one fe 'Scratch' so 'Scratch' start him studio, E.T. a set it up. An' up to now 'Scratch' don't give Larry Sevitt a tune yet.

Bunny Lee.
Q: Did you use the Black Ark in those days for your own productions?

A: No, sometime me test it out, but me 'ave my own studio so me never need fe do it (there). An' Tubbys' studio. Every studio inna Jamaica a me seh me waan use it, yunno. Me get it, beca' if me a use your studio the crowd gwaan come. This man an' man goin' (to) come.

Q: Would you say the success of Channel One 'destroyed' Randy's (studio) which led to their permanent stay in America?

A: No, everybody have them own sound. When me start use Channel One, Jo Jo look him own sound until him go America an' find it. Beca' him 'ave some parametric equalizer an' Syd Bucknor at the time never use' them. Me do tune at Channel One, yunno, like 'Living In the Footsteps of Another Man', dem tune deh sound good but another sound deh Jo Jo did want. Jo Jo find wha' him want now an' Jo Jo brother' now come an' do dem t'ing. Randy's did 'ave dem own sound, Joe Gibbs did have him own sound; when him have a studio now him start put in parametric equalizer beca' E.T. was a smarter engineer. The parametric use' to bring out the bottom; the bass more inna the tune, an' the drum sound. Ca' Joe Gibbs did get the board whe we use' to use down a Dynamic, down a the bottom studio, an' E.T. get parametric an' grow up with it, so Joe Gibbs' studio sound like Channel One.

Q: The various patterns you introduced on your labels at the time, sounds like 'flying cymbals' and 'ticklers', this was partly inspired by, for instance, listening to American studio musicians, drummers from, say, Philadelphia International?

A: No, actually I tell Sly fe play that firs', yunno. 'Flying cymbal' deh 'round a long time, a guy name' Winston Grennan. Even 'Take Five', if yu listen 'pon the hi-hat (imitates the sound). But through me deh a eat chicken-wing me jus' started 'flyers'. It's jus' - the name can do a t'ing, yunno, so everybody... all one time Carly, Carlton Barrett, Bob (Marley) haffe send him out beca' 'flyers', flying cymbal a kill everybody. Carly come an' when him play 'Gorgon', me seh "Carly, yu haffe play 'flyers' today, yunno" (giggles). So him seh "Wha' so name', Mr Lee?" An' me say what, an' me tell Santa (Davis) show 'im. An' when me do 'Gorgon' (Cornel Campbell); 'Gorgon', a him play dat, y'know, him an' a guy name' Bagga Walker, play the bass. So it was jus' a name. But dem make dat kinda t'ing deh out, beca' even Sly play a'ready 'pon a tune name' 'Here I Am (Baby)', with a guy named Al Brown. But it never 'ave no name, we come with the name 'flyers' an' put the guitar on top of it fe match it 'chengeh chengeh', with Tony Chin, an' create a different t'ing deh so. An' when me carry it up a Tubbys now an' mix it an' pass it through the... a t'ing with the board, a high-pass filter; different sound yu get again, it gone to a different dimension. So the whole t'ing jus' tek off. And then tweeters did jus' a come in 'pon sound system, so it sound nice through the tweeter 'phwwhhh phwwwhh'. So it's the separation with the tweeters. Then the 'tickler' come in now with somet'ing near like dat. A me jus' name' a nex' t'ing named the 'ticklers', me seh to Santa "Why yu tickle the hi-hat?" Like all 'bram pah...' - 'My Guiding Star', the hi-hat, an' pass it through a filter. Different sound, so me jus' call it the 'tickler', ca' I 'ave been experimentin'. Beca' Studio One sound never jus' stay so, yunno, Morris experiment with (Eric) Frater through a kinda reverb back whe yu get the feedback, the guitar 'teckeh teckeh' - when yu touch the guitar it go 'eteckeh eteckeh', y'understan', you get a after effec'. A that was the Studio One engineer, a him shoulda name' 'Studio One'. Him was the sound, when him leave Coxson an' go Harry J, the crowd go with 'im an' go Harry J studio. Even back then, him a go mek it work. Beca' Morris was the man whe dem work with in the studio. Coxson use' to out an' do business an' t'ing. Coxson would come in a evening time an' listen wha' Morris an' the musician dem do an' selec' which tune him a go put out as release. But basically when most a dem tune a mek Coxson no deh-deh. Coxson use' to get some Santa Mango (Mongo Santamaria) record an' give Roland an' Jackie Mittoo dem to play over an' dem copy them an' give them different name inna the dancehall. All 'Exodus', a Dizzy Gillespie tune. 'Something Special', him sound play them an' (Count) Matchuki the deejay seh 'This is something special!' All 'Sir Coxson's Hop', a no so the tune name', but Matchuki jus' call a foreign tune 'paaahh daa dap ta dap daaah' an' seh 'This is called 'Sir Coxson's Hop'!' An' them scratch off the name offa the record, so yu jus' haffe know it by that.

Bob Marley.

Q: How come you got Bob and The Wailers to record 'Mr Chatterbox' back in the early seventies, was that the only track you cut with them? You must've had more in that session?

A: No man, me got plenty more tracks. Them is down Dynamic, me a go find them. When me deh a run West Indies Record, me use' to give them studio time. When Bunny Wailers deh a jail an' Bob an' (Mortimer) Planno come dung deh a night-time, me use' to mek dem record; some fe dem an' some fe me. Then all when Scratch - me 'ave John Holt an' dem man deh when dem an' Scratch come back, me seh "It better yu go record with Scratch, yunno", an' dem seh "Chicken Scratch!", an' me seh "Yeah man, a me spar!" So dem start record 'mongst Scratch. All Brad dem 'ave a whole heap a Bob Marley song, but through him dead now (shot in NYC in the early eighties) dem either thief back the tape or Brad so-called wife sell dem. Ca' when Bob deh a America an' deh a Delaware me mek Brad bring 'im up an' put 'im in a place name' Two Sixteen Hotel fe all a week, an' a pure recording dat, yunno! Sometime when Peter (Tosh) dem an' t'ing start travel now dem come up deh an' some a dem put on some harmony. All Brad mek Tyrone Evans from the Paragons harmonize it, y'understan'. So Bob 'ave nuff nuff tune. Is only dem fe find it, dem last treasures deh.

Q: (Laughs) Yes.

A: Nuff tune, man.
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