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Vernon Maytone interview

by | Dec 26, 2017 | Articles, Interview

Vernon Maytone


When: May 2013

Where: Montreal / California (by phone)

Reporter:  Robert “Higherman” Heilman

Copyright:  2013 – Robert “Higherman” Heilman

About a decade ago, Reggae Vibes published Peter I’s extensive interview with Vernon “Maytone” Buckley”, one half of the Mighty Maytones. Along with Gladstone Grant, this duo put out some of the most remarkable works to come out of Jamaica; EVER. It’s only fitting that we revisit this forward Rastaman, who is as vibrant and active as ever. Robert “Higherman” Heilman caught up with Mr. Maytone by phone to find out what this legend has been up to. Maximum raspect to Nan Lewis for the link and Teacher and Mr. T, who have graciously kept Reggae Vibes alive for over fifteen years with no slowing down. Maximum raspect to you, Vernon, you really took the time to reason with I.


Greetings Vernon! You’ve been in this business for over fifty years and still putting out fantastic works. Tell me about your “Foundation Compilation Vol. 1” album (2010 album with veteran artists)?
Well, I have a label called Music Life Movements that me and my cousin Everton Phillips started. So, we run the label and I didn’t want to start with amateurs. I wanted Foundation artists. I know them; I approached them. Bredrin like Linval Thompson, Leroy Sibbles, U-Roy, Glen Washington and Errol Dunkley. I’m glad for the opportunity!

There’s mention of a follow-up compilation album?
Yes, inna different flavor. We’ve got Mikey Melody, Carlton Livingston and Dennis Alcapone. We’ve got some younger artists to fill the gap. I’m talking to Marcia Griffiths and Larry Marshall about the project. Got to keep the standard!

How did you link up with the Not Easy At All crew / Dubshelter Recordings? (currently one of Europe’s premier production houses based in Amsterdam).
(Laughs) Jah works, you know! Someone from their crew called me and I voiced a track. They loved it and it developed from there. “Gonna Make It” is a new one, actually a single of my brand new album.

Right after the compilation album, you released “Words Of Wisdom” (Not Easy At All/Music Life Movements). I mean this sounds like your best work that you put out in the 1970’s.
Yes, I like that album. We are working together permanently. I enjoy working with these bredrin, so big up Manu Genius!

Vernon Maytone

Vernon Maytone

Must have been ites to be working with longtime bredrin Linval Thompson, right?
Yes, nice. He came up and spent a week with me. Nice feelings!! I’ve got a studio downstairs where we did some work (laughs).

Buckley’s Studio?
Yes, that’s right.

I see that Fyah Beat played a little on the album. Is he from your backing band?
Yes, Fyah Beat is part of my nice five piece backing band.

You’ve been living in Canada for decades now…
I’ve been living here permanently since the 90’s. Before that, I would go back and forth to Jamaica.

How did you and Bedouin Sound Clash end up together?
Well, their producer at the time knew me from “Money Worries” days and it went from there. It’s been a good thing; the releases that I’ve appeared on went Platinum (“Sounding A Mosaic” and “Street Gospel”). They were starting out when I joined them and it’s good to see them grow.

So, you did an extensive tour with them in 2006?
Yes, we did 14 shows in 13 days in the UK!

You had your own tour the following year. Tell us about the California part of the tour?
We played The Dub Club in L.A and The Sierra Nevada World Music Festival. I played there again in 2010 with Johnny Clarke, Sugar Minott and Soul Syndicate; it was great.

Didn’t you play around the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles?
Yes, man! That was the first time I played in California.

To go back a ways… I overstand that the late, great Lyn Taitt and you worked together frequently?
A lot of work together! We played the Montreal Jazz Festival around 2005 or so.

What about Leroy Sibbles; he lived in Canada for a long time?
Only on the compilation album. He has a show coming here soon with Marcia Griffiths.

When Peter I reasoned with you last, you and Gladstone Grant (fellow Maytone) were releasing a set called “Second Time Around”.
It did well; Ernie B’s really pushed it for us.

What about your solo album, “Raw”?
It did good…

You and Gladstone are still tight?
Yes, yes! We are tight. We did a show in Ottawa three months ago. He spent two weeks with me. In March of this year, we got The Clarendon Music Lifetime Achievement Award. Gladstone was there to accept the award.

Vernon Maytone

Vernon Maytone

I have come across some crucial new recordings from you. “Old Pan Sound” (Jahtari, 2013). Sounds like some wicked Dancehall-Maytone style!
Well, it’s a younger generation thing. Jahtari called me; music has no boundaries!

I really like “Why Peace Take A Back Seat” (Soul Of Anbessa, 2012) on Roots Radics’ “Rizita” riddim!
Yes, give thanks.

Do you remember “Woman Is Smarter” (Jimpy, 1983)?
Hmm. Yes! I did that for Bunny Gemini in Toronto. (Great 12″ with Little John’s “Come On My Lover” on Side A)

Seems like your classic songs are showing up in a lot of places?
“Money Worries” was featured on an episode of a TV show up here called “Falcon Beach”. My song, “One Way”, showed up on another show here.

Which artists today do you see carrying on Real Authentic Sounds?
Right now, we have to stick to the Foundation. Foundation artists! I do like some works from Warrior King.

What projects are you working on right now?
I’ve been working on a new album called “On The Right Track” on the Uniteam label (France). I’ve got Prince Jazzbo and Lady Ann on there. “Gonna Make It” is the new single from this album, which actually has been completed.

Vernon, it’s been a blessing to reason with you and look forward to more great works from The Mighty Maytone!
No worries at all. Give thanks and praises!

Vernon Maytone

Vernon Maytone

About The Author

Robert Heilman at Reggae Vibes

Robert "Higherman" Heilman is a writer, reviewer and interviewer for Reggae- Based in San Francisco, he's done album liner notes for Keith Poppin, Ras Midas, Ras Teo and various productions for Gadd59 and Musical Ambassador labels.

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