Errol Thompson has passed away....
Legendary engineer Errol Thompson has passed away on Sunday November 14, 2004. Errol Thompson, known to many simply as ET, has died from a stroke. He was considered one of Jamaica's greatest engineers, and his work with Joe Gibbs not only produced over 100 number one records but also some of reggae's finest music including classic works from Peter Tosh, Culture, Dennis Brown, Black Uhuru and the Mighty Diamonds.
ERROL THOMPSON... A TRUE LEGEND.
Born December 29, 1948, in Kingston, Jamaica, Thompson was developing his own style of "version" sides at Randy's studio on North Parade at about the same time Tubby did his groundbreaking experiments. The main difference between the Tubby's approach and Thompson's was actually the equipment they had at their disposal. While Tubby was managing to refine the sound using faders, delay echo and a phase shifter to bend to bend the music still further, Thompson was reliant on having to push buttons, rather than sliding tracks smoothly in and out of the mix (as Tubby was able to do to such great effect). All in all itt would be unfair to credit Tubby with the invention of recorded dub, as Errol Thompson was at the same time pioneering bass and drum at Randy's Studio 17 with a great deal of success. One simply has to listen to the ground-breaking "Java, Java, Java" album of 1973, to witness that Thompson truly is a pioneer of dub techniques.
Thompson had worked briefly at Studio One in 1969 under Sylvain Morris, voicing Max Romeo's enormous international hit "Wet Dream" for Bunny Lee there. Unable to get on with Morris, he moved on to Randy's where he became chief engineer and completely rebuilt the studio. Owned by Vincent "Randy" Chin, the studio sparkled with the visionary engineering of Errol Thompson. There he recorded some of the most successful Jamaican music of the first half of the 1970's including much of the work of such producers as Lee Perry and Bunny Lee. Thompson, who had played a role at Gibbs' controls since the late 1960's, again teamed up with Joe Gibbs after the departure of Winston "Niney" Holness, who was employed by Gibbs for production duties. He became the dominant presence after Gibbs opened his new 16-track studio on Retirement Crescent in 1975 and the duo soon became known as the Mighty Two. Thompson's more prominent role as producer for Joe Gibbs Productions was acknowledged by his being given equal production credits. Besides that he also continued releasing tunes on his own Errol T label.
The collaboration of Errol Thompson and Joe Gibbs led to the release of several strong roots records on various Gibbs labels in 1975. Among them were Sylford Walker's "Burn Babylon", Jacob Miller's update of Bob Marley's "Soul Rebel", retitled "I Am A Natty", and the obscure Snuffy & Wally's deejay version of Lloyd Parks' "Mafia" entitled "Dreader Mafia". But the floodgate was opened in 1976-77, when a new youth audience in Jamaica and the UK lapped up rejuvenated Studio One and Treasure Isle riddims, as well as exciting new cuts of The Wailers' biggest rocksteady hit "Hypocrites".
The late great Dennis Brown was the most consistently successful solo performer to record for the Mighty Two. Besides a string of hit singles and disco singles, he also recorded three outstanding vocal albums of the period in the best-selling "Visions", "Words Of Wisdom" and "Joseph's Coat Of Many Colours". Almost as successful on the international market was Culture, consisting of Joseph Hill, Albert Walker and Kenneth Paley. That the vocal trio firmly established its name with their debut album "Two Sevens Clash" was mainly due to the Mighty Two's production style. It ensured that the trio was heard by a far wider audience.
Furthermore this period included gems from Gregory Isaacs, Junior Delgado, Mighty Diamonds. Junior Byles, Cornell Campbell and Earl Sixteen, to name just a few. The Mighty Two didn't forget the market for romantic records as they delivered tunes by Marcia Aitken, Alton Ellis, Wayne Wade and Ruddy Thomas. There was also a deluge of deejay versions from talents such as Nigger Kojak, Trinity, Jah Thomas, Ranking Joe, Clint Eastwood and the gruff-voiced Prince Far I.
What, in the end, made Joe Gibbs records the ones for the youths to check in the final half of the 1970's were Errol Thompson's dubs, which, complete with the attention-grabbing sounds of dogs barking, car horns hooting and toilets flushing, reached a far wider audience than his more subtle efforts at Randy's. Joe Gibbs moved to Miami, Florida, in the early 1980's, which then caused the end of the Mighty Two. It was the legal battle over the copyright for Charley Pride's "Somebody Loves You," which Gibbs reworked into a J.C. Lodge hit cover, that eventually forced Gibbs to drop out of the recording business, leaving him financially strapped. For the latter half of the 1980's and early 1990's, Gibbs stayed out of sight. By 1993, Gibbs had recovered and eventually rebuilt his studio at 24 Retirement Crescent. He also regrouped with longtime partner Errol Thompson and brought in Pioneers vocalist Sidney "Luddy" Crooks to beef up the Mighty Two production team. Quality recordings soon came to the fore, including tracks by Alton Ellis, Gregory Isaacs, Eric Donaldson, Lloyd Parks, and Tanya Stephens. More recently Thompson teamed up with Stephen Gibbs (yes indeed, son of Joe Gibbs) and co-produced the "Hard Times" riddim for the "Gibbo" label. 15 cuts for the riddim will be released in December 2004 as part of VP Records' "Riddim Driven" series. Sources : Heartbeat Records, The Rough Guide To Reggae and Roots Archives.
Errol Thompson (with phone) R.I.P.
Produced By ET
Engineered By ET
All Rights Reserved. © 2004 Reggae Vibes Productions