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.


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
  • Joe Gibbs - State Of Emergency
  • Culture - Two Sevens Clash
  • Trinity - Three Piece Suit
  • Dean Frazer - Black Horn Man
  • Dennis Brown - Visions Of Dennis Brown
  • Joe Gibbs - African Dub Chapter 3
  • Dennis Brown - Words Of Wisdom
  • I Roy - African Herbsman
  • Joe Gibbs - African Dub Chapter 4
  • Joe Gibbs - Majestic Dub
  • Matumbi - Point Of View
  • Jacob Miller - I'm Just A Dread
  • Ranking Joe - Natty Superstar
  • Welton Irie - It Feels So Good
  • Willie Lindo - Tuned In Reggae
  • Culture - More Culture
  • Louie Lepkie - Late Night Movie
  • Ruddy Thomas - First Time Around
  • Trinity - Bad Card
  • Cornell Campbell - What's Happening To Me
  • Freddie McGregor - Love At First Sight
  • Ringo & Toyan & Yellowman - Superstar Yellowman Has Arrived With Toyan
  • Dennis Brown - The Prophet Rides Again
  • Dennis Brown - Love's Gotta Hold On Me
  • Joe Gibbs - African Dub Chapter 5
  • Barrington Levy & Sammy Dread - Reggae Vibes
  • June Lodge - Someone Loves You Honey
  • I Roy - Don't Check Me With No Lightweight Stuff
  • Sammy Dread - Stronger Than Before

    Mixed by ET
  • Augustus Pablo - This Is ..... Augustus Pablo
  • U Roy - Dread In A Babylon
  • Prince Far I - Under Heavy Manners
  • Abyssinians - Arise
  • Chantells - Waiting In The Park
  • Culture - Bald Head Bridge
  • Fatman Riddim Section - Bald Head Justice
  • Force Of Music - Freedom Fighters Dub
  • Gladiators - Proverbial Reggae
  • Joe Gibbs Family - Wish You A Merry Rockers Christmas
  • Impact All Stars - Java Java Java Java
  • Delroy Wilson - Living In The Footsteps
  • Culture & Don Carlos - Roots & Culture
  • Dennis Brown - Love Has Found Its Way
  • Fathead & Yellowman - Bad Boy Skanking
  • Sister Nancy & Purpleman & Fathead & Yellowman - The Yellow, The Purple & The Nancy
  • Little Harry & Billy Boyo - D.J. Clash vol 2
  • Wailing Souls - Inchpinchers
  • Wailing Souls - On The Rocks
  • Yellowman - Zungguzungguguzungguzeng
  • Trinity & Prince Far I - DJ Originators Head To Head Vol 2

  • Engineered By ET
  • Dave Barker & Ansel Collins - Double Barrel
  • Big Youth - Screaming Target
  • Brent Dowe - Build Me Up
  • Dennis Alcapone - King Of The Track
  • Dennis Brown - Deep Down
  • Horace Andy & Righteous Flames - The Kingston Rock
  • Big Youth - Dread Locks Dread
  • Burning Spear - Marcus Garvey
  • Ethnic Fight Band - Out Of One Man Comes Many Dubs
  • Fred Locks - Black Star Liner
  • Larry Marshall - I Admire You
  • Morwells & King Tubby - Morwell Unlimited Meet King Tubby's Dub Me
  • Barrington Spence - Speak Softly
  • Big Youth - Hit The Road Jack
  • Bob Marley - Rastaman Vibration
  • Bob Marley - Rebel Revolution
  • Burning Spear - 100th Anniversary
  • Burning Spear - Garvey's Ghost
  • Joe Gibbs - African Dub Chapter 2
  • Skin, Flesh & Bone & Merlyn Webber - Once You Hit The Road
  • U Roy - Natty Rebel
  • Gregory Isaacs - Extra Classic
  • Morwells - Crab Race
  • Sons Of Negus & Ras Michael - Kibir-Am-Lak
  • Trinity - Shanty Town Determination
  • U Roy - Rasta Ambassador
  • Willie Lindo - It's Not Too Late
  • Winston Wright - Melody Of Love
  • Big Youth - Isaiah First Prophet Of Old
  • Dillinger - Cornbread
  • Hugh Mundell - Africa Must Be Free By 1983
  • Hugh Mundell - Africa Must Be Free By 1983 + Dub
  • Ijahman - Haile I Hymn
  • Meditations - Guidance
  • Pat Kelly - Lonely Man
  • Peter Tosh - Bush Doctor
  • Prince Hammer - Bible
  • Blackstones - Insight
  • Junior Delgado - Effort
  • Junior Delgado - Taste Of The Young Heart
  • Mikey Dread - Dread At The Controls
  • Trevor Hartley - Innocent Lover
  • Barbara Jones - For Your Ears Only
  • Horace Andy & Winston Jarrett & Wailers - Earth Must Be Hell
  • King Tubby - Psalm Of The Time Dub
  • Light Of Saba - The Light Of Saba
  • Light Of Saba - The Light Of Saba In Reggae
  • Ossie Scott - The Supreme Sound Of Ossie Scott
  • Pat Kelly - Cool Breezing
  • Prince Jammy & King Tubby - His Majestys Dub
  • Tommy McCook & Yabby You - Yabby You Meets Tommy McCook In Dub
  • Alton Ellis & Heptones - Mr Ska Bean'a
  • U Roy - Love Gamble
  • Willie Williams - Messenger Man
  • Johnny Osbourne - Warrior
  • Morwells - Best Of The Morwells
  • Knowledge - Stumbling Block
  • Rico Rodriguez - Jama
  • Toyan & Triston Palmer - Nice Time
  • Dillinger - Join The Queue
  • King Tubby - First Prophet Of Dub
  • Toyan - Every Posse Want Me
  • Frankie Paul - Be My Lady
  • Prince Far I - Megabit 25, 1922
  • Dean Frazer - Revolutionary Sounds
  • General Plough - Midnight Rock
  • Prince Mohammed - Today

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