Ernest Wilson

Jah Stitch

Old-time toaster Jah Stitch was one of Jamaica’s pioneering deejays. He was the leading deejay with the Tippertone and – his own – Black Harmony Sound Systems before cutting his first sides for Errol ‘Flabba’ Holt and Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee. Prior to the One Love Peace Concert in Jamaica, he was shot through the head. His injuries were such that it was a miracle that he was still alive. When he returned to the studio he recorded No Dread Can’t Dead which marked his comeback after miraculously surviving his injuries. The shooting had left him with a permanent rictus, which made him look like he was always talking out of the side of his mouth. In 1985, he re-emerged as Major Stitch, selecting the tunes for Sugar Minott’s Youth Promotion Sound. He died in 2019.

Ernest Wilson

jah Stitch

Old-time toaster Jah Stitch was one of Jamaica’s pioneering deejays. He was the leading deejay with the Tippertone and – his own – Black Harmony Sound Systems before cutting his first sides for Errol ‘Flabba’ Holt and Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee. Prior to the One Love Peace Concert in Jamaica, he was shot through the head. His injuries were such that it was a miracle that he was still alive. When he returned to the studio he recorded No Dread Can’t Dead which marked his comeback after miraculously surviving his injuries. The shooting had left him with a permanent rictus, which made him look like he was always talking out of the side of his mouth. In 1985, he re-emerged as Major Stitch, selecting the tunes for Sugar Minott’s Youth Promotion Sound. He died in 2019.

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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