Ernest Wilson

Ernest Wilson

Ernest Wilson formed The Clarendonians in 1963 with Peter Austin, the duo going on to become one of the most popular groups of the ska and rocksteady era, and having several Jamaican number one hits. He embarked on a solo career in 1967, charting with the Undying Love a tune he did for Studio One. In 1969, he got back together with Freddie McGregor in the duo ‘Ernest Wilson & Freddy’, releasing several singles. He was also briefly a member of The Techniques. In the 1970s he recorded an awesome tune for Channel One, I Know Myself, one of the best reggae tunes of all time. He provided background vocals to tracks by Beres Hammond, Inner Circle, Jimmy Reid, Jimmy Riley, Johnny Osbourne, and Kiddus I.

Ernest Wilson

Ernest Wilson

Ernest Wilson formed The Clarendonians in 1963 with Peter Austin, the duo going on to become one of the most popular groups of the ska and rocksteady era, and having several Jamaican number one hits. He embarked on a solo career in 1967, charting with the Undying Love a tune he did for Studio One. In 1969, he got back together with Freddie McGregor in the duo ‘Ernest Wilson & Freddy’, releasing several singles. He was also briefly a member of The Techniques. In the 1970s he recorded an awesome tune for Channel One, I Know Myself, one of the best reggae tunes of all time. He provided background vocals to tracks by Beres Hammond, Inner Circle, Jimmy Reid, Jimmy Riley, Johnny Osbourne, and Kiddus I.

Beth Lesser

During the 1980s, my husband and I traveled frequently to Kingston, Jamaica and Brooklyn, NY from our home in Toronto, Canada to follow the changing reggae scene. In that period reggae was changing fast, moving from the heavy roots sound of suffering and redemption to the lighter, faster, digitized sound of modern dancehall.

My husband and I saw it happen. We saw Junjo’s Volcano empire rise meteorically and them crash as his young artists emigrated or met untimely deaths. We witnessed Jah Love’s Brigadier Jerry take over the dancehall scene without ever having recorded a 45 – powered by the new popularity of dance hall cassettes.

We were in Waterhouse when King Jammy unleashed his Sleng Teng rhythm to an analog world and, one by one, producers dropped their previously recorded rhythms and started building again from scratch using programmable keyboards and drum machines. We were in Jammy’s yard while he cut the dubplates for the Clash of the Century, the event that brought dancehall culture to the larger Jamaican audience.

Over those years, I collected an archive of material that I would like to make available to the public – to present and future reggae scholars and fans.

All images © 1982-1988 Beth Lesser

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