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May 2000 - Interview with Fully Fullwood
San Clemente, California
(Fully Fullwood, Frances Fullwood, Tony Chin & Vickie Chin)

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The following conversation took place in May 2000 at Fully Fullwood’s home in San Clemente, California. Fully, Frances, Tony, and Vickie were visiting in the studio. Frances turned on a tape recorder and recorded a good part of the conversation. The following is a transcript of that recording. When the tape recorder was turned on, Fully and Tony were talking about how the Soul Syndicate got started back in Jamaica.

FULLY: We were playing as little kids way before that, playing out on the street. Me and Maurice Gregory used to sing and play. I was playing guitar and Maurice was playing guitar. Tony would sing. One Sunday morning me and Maurice was sitting down and Tony came by . . .

TONY: A brother named Benji came to me looking for a guitar player. So Benji carried me up to Megan and Algon's place. They said they needed a guitar player and I told them about you, Fully. So I carried them down to your house.

FULLY: So I would go down to their place and practice sometimes with them. But they really wanted a bass player. So I would play bass on the low octaves on the guitar. So we play. Megan had trusted a guitar and amplifier from the music store, but they were going to take it away because he couldn't pay for it. So I came down and told my father about it. Megan Allen came down and told my father to finish paying for it and we could control it. So my father paid for it and the band moved up to my house. Then me and Algon and Megan started playing out, and in the backyard, and we called ourselves the Riddum Raiders.

TONY: A brother named Toby played keyboards.

FULLY: And Tony used to come round same way and hang out with we.

FRANCES: So who played what?

FULLY: Algon played drums and Megan played guitar -- two old guys, one a shoemaker and one come from the country. And the drum he had, he make it, he make it out of goat skin. He made his own drum set.

FRANCES: What kind of music did you play then?

FULLY: At the time it was rocksteady and ska mento.

TONY: It was the 60's.

FULLY: It was that time when that song, "Hang on Sloopy, Sloopy Hang On" was a big hit.

TONY: And "I Can't Get No Satisfaction"

FULLY: Way back then in the 60's. So that's how the band as the Riddim Raiders start out. Now afterwards then we have this little guy named Toby --

FRANCES: When you were the Riddim Raiders, what were you doing? Were you playing at hotels?

FULLY and TONY: No. No. We just played in the backyard and probably around at little places. We played at the Labor Right Club and the Boys Club. It was in the area and it was near us in the neighborhood. It was like a center where everybody hung out. So we would go over there and they would call us to play at functions. Maurice Gregory would sing. He died now.

TONY: My best friend, he died, um.

FULLY: A couple years after that now then, Megan got too old and couldn't manage to play anymore.

TONY: I bring in "C".

FULLY: Tony bring Cleon Douglas in to sing and play guitar. So we had two guitarists now -- Tony and Cleon. So the band at that time was Tony and Cleon on guitars, Algon on drums and me on bass. We didn't have a keyboard player yet. When Algon got too old and couldn't manage anymore a guy named Scottie come in and play drums. At that time the band was still the Riddim Raiders. We used to play at a place called Victoria Pier. We would go down there and play little shows every Sunday. A few years later a guy named Glen Adams, who was a tailor, came in to play keyboards. He was the one who made our first uniforms. Then Scottie moved away and Max Edwards came in to play drums. He came from the Boy's School -- a bad boy, but a good drummer and he could sing too. So he came in and start to play with us.

TONY: Glen Adams was Bob Marley's keyboard player.

FULLY: That was during the hippie days. That time Bob Marley business never a go on, because we used to play for Bob Marley.

TONY: Yeah, mon.

FULLY: We used to play at Shackadillic Shack with Bob Marley Wailers them. They hadn't started to play yet. They used to come watch us play. Stage show start now.

TONY: I think the first show we played on was called Three Dogs.

FULLY: It was two trucks put together. That was the stage -- down in Greenwich Farm. Right in front of Labor Rights headquarters. A big thing in Jamica then.

TONY: Every year they have a band play. We backed up about 20 artists.

FULLY: Those days it was Stranger Cole and the whole of them -- Delroy Wilson . . . That was our first big exposure. That was when the band's name changed. My brother used to run a little disco -- a little disco sound system. He worked at the post office and would buy records every minute: he used to keep parties. We used to watch the T.V. show The Untouchables in those days. I said we should change the name of the band to the Syndicate and my brother said, “How ‘bout the Soul Syndicate?” And that’s how the name changed to Soul Syndicate.

TONY: So how Donovan first come in the band?

FULLY: Long after. Remember Maxie Rose played with the band too. And after Maxie it was Horsemouth.

FRANCES: Wait a minute. So Max Edwards left the band?:

FULLY and TONY: Him go to jail! Every minute Max Edwards get himself in trouble.

TONY: One night we supposed to have a show in a bad place called Triple Moulan -- a street dance show. And Max Edwards was in jail. So we didn't' have a drummer.

FULLY: I don't remember exactly how it happened, but somewhere I had met Horsemouth and had mentioned to him that I'd like him to come play drums for us sometime. So we got Horsemouth to come play on the street-dance thing because Max had gone to jail.

TONY: Yeah, Max was in jail.

FULLY: Then some bad boy call us to come do a show at Gold Coast.

TONY: On Gold Coast where nobody would play.

FULLY: A gunman place that people get killed all the while. They called it DANCE HALL THING. And this place, everytime they have something there, somebody dead.

TONY: So every band refused to go.

FULLY: Yeah, no band want to go and play there. So he come to my house and say that the Ken Booth band didn't want to play. So we say, "Yeah, mon, we come and play." My father used to be the manager. So the man come to my father and say, "Mr. B, we'd like the band to come play.” We were young and didn't care, we'd go anywhere. So, that's how Horsemouth come on now. We rehearsed and then . . .

FRANCES: Wait a minute, what happened to the show?

FULLY: The show don't come on yet. This guy named Bob Eye, him have two guns in his waist; he came to the rehearsal at my gate. We had a big lime tree that we used to rehearse under. Stranger Cole, Ken Boothe, Leroy Wilson, every artist you can think about, probably about 10 artists come and we rehearse them. And each artist do about 6, 7, 8, 9 songs. We rehearsed the whole night there, and the yard was packed with all the kids from around the neighborhood. So after we were done rehearsing (it was a Saturday night) we were to go play at this place. The place was packed; it was a big dance-hall thing. And this guy, King Stitch was playing too. He was a very popular DJ at that time. Anyway, the people love we; they love the band. Afterward, in the night when we were coming home, we had the truck back all packed up with the instruments and things and people. My father was there too. Some of the bad boy sit down on the instruments.

TONY: Down in Jamaica we didn't have buses late at night. It was about 2 o'clock in the morning and people needed a ride to go home, so they jumped in the back of the truck. Some of them sat on the drum set. Horsemouth started to quarrel and tell them they couldn't sit on the drum set. So they pulled him off the truck and beat him up -- kicked him through a wire fence and things.

FULLY: So he got back on the truck; but Horsemouth was a bad boy too. So here's what happened: When he got back on the truck, his clothes were torn up but he sat down and kept quiet. The truck made a mistake and stopped in a place that was Hoursemouth’s area, where he had his gang. So he jumped off the truck and go call for his gang men. They came running after the truck with machetes. So the bad boys that had beat up Horsemouth started to cry and yell to the driver "Drive! Drive!" The truck drive about 20 miles an hour top speed. So Horsemouth's people tried to run down the truck, but couldn't catch it. If they'd caught it, there would have been blood. From there, Horsemouth was a member of the band. He would sleep at my house. My father liked him very much.

FRANCES: How'd he get the name Horsemouth?

FULLY: Because he looked like a horse. His mouth long.

TONY: His real name is Leroy Wallace. But the bad boys called him Horsemouth.

TONY: Horsemouth later left the band when he got a real good offer to play with a very important band called the Vikings.

FULLY: Donavon was our singer then. He was a book boy. His mother had 13 boys. They were bookworm people. Toby, who played keyboards with us sometimes, told us Donavan could sing. So one day he came in and started singing some songs. And we say, “Yeah he can sing!” So Donavon became our main singer and Cleon Douglas left the band. Then Chinna came in. He used to come by with a brother named Don't Rush It. Someone said, "That brother can sing," talking about Chinna. So we said, "Come sing some songs." He sang real good, so we told him to come sing with us sometimes. He was just learning to play guitar at that time. My father told him to come practice at the house whenever he wanted to. So he used to be at the house practicing day and night.

FULLY: We did some shows around the place where we got 25 cents each for. A guy named Reggie, a guitar player who used to jam with us, formed up a band called the Hippie Boys with Family Man. That was about the time Horsemouth left to go play with the Vikings. He brought down Santa. Santa couldn't play at that time, but Horsemouth taught him to play then. Santa had been playing in the drum corp before that -- a marching drum core. But we had known Santa before that because his family was friends of my family. His mother was one of my mother's good friends.

TONY: We started recording then.

FULLY: The first recording we did was Coxin, Coxin.

TONY: Cleon Douglas sang on it, "Dream, dream, dream, dreaming my life away."

FULLY: Bunny Lee was the one who really got us in the studio. But we would do 20 songs and only get paid for one or two.

TONY: Then Phil Phrat come to us, and we started to make big hit songs with him. Every song we recorded with him became a hit.

FULLY: But Max Edwards used to play on some of them. Now Chinna was playing lead guitar with the band, Santa on drums, Tony on rhythm guitar. But Max Edwards recorded on the album, Was, Is and Always with us ‘cause Santa got a break to go play with Jimmy Cliff. We called Santa to do a tour, but he was busy with Jimmy Cliff. So we got back Max Edwards.

FRANCES: When did Dennis Brown sing with the band?

FULLY: Dennis was a young boy. He was singing with a group call the Falcons. Horsemouth would play with them sometimes too. Horsemouth came to get me to come play with them because they needed a bass player. The Falcons consisted of Pat Sactchmouth, Dennis Brown, Cynthia Richard, and Noel Brown. They were very big in those days making a lot of hits. They were a big band, with horns too. They used to go to the country to play at the big clubs.

FRANCES: So you went over there to fill in on bass?

FULLY: Right, fill in bass. Dennis was just learning to sing at the time. It was about a year after that that he came in to be vocalist for the Soul Syndicate. Then, when Dennis Brown left, Freddie McGregor came in to sing. He came on tour with us to America -- his first American tour. Then Michael Rose came in as our singer.

FULLY: We used to do big shows every New Year's -- New Year's Ball.

TONY: A big event at the VIP Lounge. Every big artist played there.

FULLY: Our band was one of the top ghetto recording and stage bands. Ghetto, because even when we were at the V.I.P. Lounge, the manager there said we were garage players because we didn't wear uniforms. We used to dress anyhow we wanted to dress. So that's how we started to make uniforms. Glen Adams and a girl named Lana made the first uniforms. Then we went to play in Montego Bay.

TONY: For about a year. We lived down there and played at a club every night.

FULLY: We played for some big singer, Merlin Years, a jazz singer. We were backing her up.

TONY: And she carried us to Cuba.

FULLY: Yeah, she carried us to Cuba to do a show. That time we were wearing our uniforms and playing socha and all kinds of music. That time Scottie was our keyboard player. But Scottie got killed. His father was a contractor, and he didn't want Scottie in the music business because he wanted him to work with him. But Scottie loved the music, and one day he was at a house that his father was building, They were there on a Sunday looking at the house and three guys came to the house. They tied up Scottie and his father and didn't find any money. So they shot his father right beside him but didn't hurt Scottie. A year later one of them got caught, and the guys’ friends said they were going to have to kill Scottie because they were afraid he'd be a witness and testify against them. So one night Scottie was coming home in his truck from some place he was working. As he came out of his truck to open his gate at his house, the guy came out of Scottie's house and shot him straight in the head and kill him dead. That's how we get another player now.

FRANCES: Did they ever catch him, the killer?

FULLY: No, never catch him.

FULLY: That's how we bring the mad guy, Danny. The mad keyboard player Danny, a hell-of-a-good player, but crazy.

TONY: We couldn't take him.

FULLY: And we had a trumpeter gone to prison too. He had killed a little girl. We used to go to prison to play.

TONY: Yeah, we were playing at the prison with Big Youth, and we heard someone call out to us.

FULLY: "Fully! Tony! Wha’ happen?" And we say, "Isn't that our trumpeter? What'd you do?" He called back, "The boy them I a frame me." And I said, " Yeah, right -- framed you."

TONY: Framed for murder -- rape and murder.

FULLY: Rape and murder -- serving life sentence. A whole heap of friends we see there too. Stammer, and Johnny-Be-Too-Bad. Too-Bad is in prison serving triple life sentence, and it's a one life a man have. So all them are in prison. Anyway, it was fun in those days. We used to play at Victoria Pier. Sometimes we played for nobody. One time we played at a place called the Blue something.

TONY: Where the goats came up on stage.

FULLY: Yeah, we played for goats, pure goats -- nobody but goats. You should have seen us up on stage. The band played like hell, and not one soul, just some goats. And the goats enjoyed the music.

FRANCES: Well, who was paying you to play there?

FULLY: Pay? We didn't get much money, probably about 5 pounds to share amongst all of us. (laughing) But we didn't care cause we used it as a rehearsal -- we were young. The owner was a nice guy and he was trying to build up the club. But nobody ever turned up.

TONY: The Moonlight Lounge, it was called. A nice place out-of-doors.

FULLY: One time Chinna brought Keith Sterling by the studio to record on a song. He loved the band and we loved how he played. So I would go to his house sometimes and we'd play jazz. His brother, Lester Sterling was very famous at that time with a group call the Scatalights. And he had another brother who played trumpet with us named Roy. We did the first live recording with Dennis Brown. Ninie come in now with the Observer label. We used to see Ninie in the street selling records, barefoot. He was from the country and would sell records for anybody he could. One day he came to the house when we were rehearsing, and he said he had a hit song he wanted us to record. We said, "But you don't have any money. How're you going to pay us?" He said he had money and everything was cool. So we said, "All right." It was Santa, Tony, me and Chinna. We went to the studio and we played a tune for him named Love and Fire and some more songs. But by the time we were done and ready to pack up, we couldn't see Ninie anywhere. Ninie run gone with the tape and everything. So we decided anytime we see him, we were going to kill him. It was about a month after . . .

TONY: We were playing Montego Bay.

FULLY: No, we were outside my house and we see a taxi drive up. And Ninie come out well dressed and smiling. And we yelled at him, "You bumba clot." And we were ready to beat him up. But he came out and hugged me up and said "No, mon", and he laughed and said "Everything alright mon." And he reached in his pocket and pulled out a big pile of money. Then he explained that at the time we recorded for him, he didn't have any money. It was a guy named Beverly who helped him out. And the song we played was a big hit. Then he paid us every dime. So that was how we started to work with Ninie. We recorded for him and he opened up a little record store and an Orange Julius. Dennis Brown was the main artist. And that's how we made the first hit song for Michael Rose which was Guess Who's Coming To Dinner. That's how the whole thing come about with Observer and him. We used to play for him constantly. Then Big Youth came in, and Keith Hudson. Keith Hudson was a bad boy. We used to hear about him and were afraid of him. We used to hear about him and a guy named Stammer.

TONY: They used to go on like they were bad and had guns, and drive their big car -- a white Capri; like gangsters.

FULLY: Keith Hudson was a good-looking guy and had a sidekick named Stammer who would stammer when he talked. So one day they came to the house and said they wanted us to come play and record. At first we said no, but he was very convincing and we did the session. The first song we did for him was called S-90. It was a big theme song, Big Youth was on it -- a big hit. That's how we started working with Big Youth. A guy named Flames brought his motorcycle in the studio and revved it up -- that's how the song started out.

FULLY: Tenor played sax with us. And Arnold Breckenridge. Trami too, on horns, and Donald Green.

TONY: Goldfinger -- our little sidekick.

FULLY: A feisty guy, very dedicated to the band. He used to live at my house.

FULLY: Remember the The Case of The Bald Head Rooster? It was a live drama. What do you call it?

TONY: It was a play. With actors. But we were the music behind it. It was funny.

FULLY: It was so funny. You laugh ‘till you weak -- The Case of The Bald Head Rooster.

TONY: Dennis Brown's father was an actor in it.

FULLY: And you have a guy named Ben Louis and Bean ‘n Bomb. The two of them used to come to my house. A lot of people used to come to my gate, Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, every single artist you can think of.

TONY: That's true. Freddie MaKay, Darrel Wilson, Gregory Issacs.

FULLY: Big Youth used to come pick me up and we'd go to the beach and cook food. U-Roy . . .

TONY: There was some big festival at Garrett Park and all the artists came to Fully's yard. We had to chain the gate up because the crowd outside wanted to come in. The band wanted to rehearse and everybody wanted to come in.

FULLY: The first stage show Yellow Man played on, it was us who backed him up. Anyway, the yard was so famous. There's a big stone at the gate. Remember, Tony?

TONY: I remember one time when Bob got shot, he was the headliner at a place called Tivoli Gardens.

FULLY: That was a serious place. Family Man didn't want to play. Bob came to me and ask me to play, and I told him, "No, sir." But Tony went and played, him and Chinna. Bob would never pass us without hailing us up.

TONY: The last show I played on a show with Bob Marley was at Garrett Park. I was back stage and Bob said to me, "Wha happen Tony?" He say to hail you up, Fully.

FULLY: I had a lot of respect for him. The last picture we took with Bob was when we were in the studio doing our album. Bob was there and so was Jacob Miller. Jacob had wanted to become our vocalist for a long time. He sang with Inner Circle. So we took a picture with Tony, Bob, Jacob, and Chinna. We were sitting on a car back. A couple nights after, Jacob Miller was dead.

TONY: Yeah, Sunday night he was dead.

FULLY: He was in a car crash and was eating sugar cane. He choked on the sugar cane and died. A couple of years later Bob was dead too. I don't know who has that picture. Tony licked down Bob's gate once with his car. Tony misjudged and ran down the gate. And Bob Marley said, "Everything cool."

TONY: A lot of people will say they know Bob, but ask them if Bob know them.

FRANCES: So Keith was playing with you on keyboards then. When did Jahmaka come in?

FULLY: Hear the whole story. When I used to go to Greenwich Farm grade school, Jahmaka and his brother used to be in the same school; his mother was a teacher. She was my teacher too.

FRANCES: So you knew each other from childhood?

FULLY: Right. So he used to play with Sapauo. So when Keith went off the play with Peter Tosh, that's when we got Jahmaka. When he came in the band, his name wasn't Jahmaka. Somebody gave him that name after he'd been playing with the band for a while.

TONY: That was the time Santa left to go play with Jimmy Cliff. Sly was Jimmy Cliff's drummer but he left Jimmy to go play with Peter Tosh. So Santa left us to be Jimmy Cliff's drummer. So we didn't have a drummer. So we got Max Edwards back. When we went on tour with Big Youth, the people loved the band. We met a guy named Easy Money who brought the Soul Syndicate back to America later.

FULLY: There was a money problem and that's where Warren Smith stepped in. When we met him he had on these big boots.

TONY: He was the first white person we'd ever dealth with. Warren said he had a friend who had a big house on a hill that overlooked the whole of San Francisco where we could stay. His name was Richie. He had a big dog. So we all moved into his house. Richie liked to go shop everyday. A nice guy.

FULLY: And he had someone who would come drive us everyday too.

TONY: The members in the band were Max Edwards, Arnold Breckenridge, Donovan, Tenor, Chinna, Jahmaka and us.

FRANCES: How long did you stay in San Francisco?

FULLY: Long time, two months. We were going to stay longer, but Donovan got up one night and said he saw a hand calling him back to Jamaica. He had just gotten married two months before and just wanted to get back to his wife. So he left. So we left too. When we were on the plane, Tenor started to sing, "I left my heart in San Francisco." The next time we came back on tour, Tenor stayed. That's when things started to change.

TONY: That's when Warren started to manage us. He came to Jamaica and filmed a movie with this brother, Jerry Stein.

FULLY: With Earl Zero and Chinna. Earl Zero used to record with us for a brother named Bertram Brown. Another guy named Prince Ala. We did a whole heap of recording for Bertram Brown. So Warren came in and liked how Earl Zero sound and wanted to do an album with him. We played on the album. Then we met the guy who did the movie Word, Sound, And Power. It was filmed at my house. We had just finished a tour. Freddie McGregor and Arnold Breckenridge left the band at that time. So that's when we started singing -- me and Tony.

TONY: And that's when Leslie Butler started playing keyboard with us, too.

FULLY: Leslie Butler was a jazz keyboard player, one of the best in Jamaica. So when Freddie left, it was good for us, in that we all had to start singing. We had to focus.

FRANCES: So how did the Soul Syndicate albums come about?

TONY: We recorded the first album, Harvest Up Town in Ocho Rios with Warren Smith and Pete Julianna. We spent about a month up there rehearsing.

FULLY: There was a hotel up there that was rundown. Nobody was using it. It had about 60 rooms and Warren booked out the whole hotel. And you could stay in any room you like.

TONY: We lived there for about a month.

FULLY: And Pete brought down all his equipment for recording the rehearsals. We practiced a lot every day. Chinna wrote a lot of songs for it.

TONY: And Max Edwards played drums on it. Santa came back on tour with us later and did the next album.

FRANCES: So when did you first go to Europe?

FULLY: Toposzukie.

TONY: Soul Syndicate never toured Europe as Soul Syndicate yet. We always went as someone's backup band.

FULLY: Check this out Tony: When Topozuckie was a little boy, he used to carry dinner for my father. When he grew up, he got involved in the politics and became an important person. A very nice fellow. And he always remembered us.

FRANCES: So when did you go to Europe?

FULLY: Topozuckie, the first time was with Topozuckie. Topozuckie had a hit song named Oh, Lord. It was a big hit in Jamaica. He wanted to do a tour in Europe but he didn't have any players. He asked me and Max Edwards to go. We weren't doing anything at the time, and he offered us some nice money, so we said, “Allright.” So that's how I left and went to Europe. I had a whole ton-load of adventures. The car turned over in a snow storm. That was when I met Sting. And the Sex Pistols. There was so much excitement then during that time when we were in England. It was a good experience for me. And Tapozukie treated me with a lot of respect. Max Edwards played drums on that tour.

FRANCES: So where is Max Edwards today?

FULLY: After we recorded Max's album, Rocker's Arena, Max went back to England. I believe he's still there. In my opinion, he's one of the greatest drummers who ever lived.

TONY: Yeah, mon, a hell of a drummer.

FRANCES: So, how did Soul Syndicate mash up?

FULLY: Soul Syndicate didn't mash up. But everybody went off to play with different groups when they got offers. Chinna left to go do some work with Inner Circle. Chinna was always in demand because he became one on Jamaica's best reggae guitar players. He left to go on tour with Bob Marley, too. The same thing happened to the rest of us -- we each became in so much demand that we were all going off in different directions to play with different groups that would call each of us. They start calling me, start calling Santa, start calling Tony and then the band become like a tree root.

TONY: Yeah, start branch out in different directions.

FULLY: And the beauty about Soul Syndicate is that it becomes one of the bands that individual people have their own identity and started to get their own fame and name. And that rarely happens with a band that every player becomes very popular out there. Like Keith Sterling, Chinna, myself, Tony, Santa.

FRANCES: So Keith went off to play with --

Peter Tosh.

TONY: And Santa went off to play with Jimmy Cliff.

FRANCES: And Tony went off to play with --

TONY: Mighty Diamonds

FULLY: Tony used to play with Jimmy Cliff too. And I was playing with other people too. I went on the road with Big Youth. I went to England with Big Youth. When the Soul Syndicate backed up Big Youth, he would call us the Ark Angles. He loved that name. So we started doing a lot of recording for him as the Ark Angles. He had a little record store and me and Tony used to be down there hanging out with Big Youth. To be honest with you, Big Youth is a very nice person -- a nice person to be around. But he's a guy you also don't want to get upset.

FRANCES: I remember Sunplash, 1982 in Montego Bay in Jamaica. You all played with him on that show. I've seen it released as an album.

FULLY (to Frances and Vickie): Isn't that when we met?

FRANCES: I met you on May 3, at Orange Coast College. That's when I met Tony and Vickie too. You were playing with Jack Miller that day. Tanya was there that day too.

FULLY: Eighteen years. Boy time flies. For 2 years straight we got "Best Recording Band in Jamaica". We got a cup, but I don't remember where it is. One of the sad things about the music is that many of the original creators or writers of certain songs remain in the shadows. I think we are some of those people. One of Sly and Robbie's biggest hits, Taxi Rhythm was a song that we did originally for Blaka Mawelly. So the world have it that Robbie and Sly made it, but that wasn't so. We made that music originally, but they made it a big hit. The other thing too with Joe Higgs -- Stepping Razor -- the world thinks that's a Peter Tosh song. But it was really a Joe Higgs song.

TONY: It come like Bob Marley and Buffalo Soldier. He didn't write it, you know.

FRANCES: How did the music evolve?

FULLY and TONY: From Mento, it was mento business first.

FULLY: Back in the early days, all the small islands used to play the same kind of music -- mento. There were three guys, one on a rhythm box, one on banjo, and one on guitar.

TONY: They used to be at the airport when the tourists come in. In their straw hats and pretty shirts.

FULLY: That's where the music start from. There was also calypso and socka. But the islands were playing the same kind of music because it was really the same people on the islands. The slaves that were brought over from Africa were put on all the small islands and they brought their music with them -- the drums and the rhythms and the songs to cheer them up and keep them going. So anywhere you go, you hear the same thing.

VICKIE: So when did things start to change?

TONY: During the 60's.

FULLY: You have some guys, Carl Masters and some older guys who start play something new. They called it Ska, so they called themselves the Skatalites. So the mento thing started to change.

TONY: But you have some guys that say, "It's too fast." So they slowed it down and it became rocksteady.

FULLY: And then there was a drummer who made a big difference in the direction of the music, but I can't remember his name right now. But a guitar player, Lynn Tate who came over from Trinidad turned the whole thing around. He became the king of rocksteady. The reggae grew out of this and is almost the same thing. Just slightly different tempos and lyrics.

TONY: So music in Jamaica changed.

FULLY: But the other islands didn't change. Jamaica became the island of reggae but it still has some of the top calypso and socka bands in the world. Trinidad has the king of calypso, Mighty Sparrow.

TONY: Like Jamaica has the king of reggae, Bob Marley, Trinidad has Sparrow, the king of calypso.


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