Once Upon A Time At King Tubby's
Johnny Clarke - Do You Love Me?
I-Roy - Straight To Jazzbo’s Head
King Tubby - Straight To Jazzbo’s Head (Version)
Prince Jazzbo - Straight To I-Roy’s Head
King Tubby - Straight To I-Roy’s Head (Version)
I-Roy - Padlock
The Revolutionaries - Padlock Version
Prince Jazzbo - Gal Boy I-Roy
King Tubby - The Roots Of Dub
I-Roy - Jazzbo Have Fe Run
King Tubby - Jazzbo Have Fe Run (Version)
Derrick Morgan - I-Roy The Chiney Commer Around
King Tubby - Straight To I-Roy’s Big Mouth
I-Roy - Straight To Derrick Morgan’s Head
King Tubby - Straight To Trico Lee’s Head
|The fierce rivalry
between sound systems keeping one step ahead of the opposition gave
birth to the Kingston recording scene in the late fifties. The 'battle
grew hotter' as the sixties progressed and wars of words and music
between rival sound systems, record producers, singers and deejays were
aired... often on record rather than off the record.
Orange Street, Kingston 1963: Prince Buster, former professional boxer, relished this combative approach and made many aggressive, boastful records. he reached a vituperative vertex with his vindictive vinyl release 'Black Head Chinaman' which was an all out assault on his former associate Derrick Morgan. Derrick had begun to work for Beverley's Records owned by Chinese Jamaican Leslie Kong: "All the time I wanted to go back to Leslie Kong because he was the best payer" and Buster rhythmically railed against Derrick's perceived betrayal.
"You done stole my belongings and give to your... Chiney man
God in heaven knows, he knows, that you are wrong"
'Black Head Chinaman' Prince Buster
Derrick later explained that the "belongings" that buster accused Derrick of stealing from him were actually the horn players, 'Deadly' Headley Bennett and Lester Sterling, who had blown the solos in Derrick's Beverley's release 'Forward March'. Buster was adamant that these musicians should have stayed with him and "that's what caused the disruption."
"Derrick and Buster had that confrontation on record when Buster did a tune 'They Got To Come' and then Derrick did one named 'Forward March'. Well the solo in 'Forward March' was near but if you listen properly it's two different solos. Prince Buster was vexed and he said Derrick had stolen his solo and used it for the Beverley's tune. Leslie Kong who owned Beverley's was Chinese and Buster sang: 'Black Head Chinaman' and then Derrick answered with 'The Blazing Fire' which he introduced in the Chinese language and then sung 'Be still and know I am your superior' so they had quite a carrying on but that rivalry thing helped to sell records too for quite a while." Bunny 'Striker' Lee
Over a decade later the same tactic would help to sell a lot more records when a now infamous on record rupture broke out between Prince Jazzbo and I-Roy. This new chapter would not only recycle some of Prince Buster's rhythms and lyrics but would also draw Derrick Morgan into the fray.
Born Linval Carter in Chapeltown, Clarendon on 3rd September 1951 from the age of eight onwards Prince Jazzbo lived between his mother's home in Clarendon and his aunt's home in Spanish Town. he acquired his nom de mic before he had even thought of taking up the microphone. His family in England would send him shoes from London with GB (for made in Great Britain) printed on the sales and young Linval was know as GB which later became Jazzbo. The name stayed with him when he began his recording career. He followed Killer Whip, Wasp The Almighty and Ruddy's Supreme Ruler Of Sound on the Spanish Town circuit and by the age of fourteen Jazzbo was a regular mic man for Killer Whip.
Spanish Town New Year's Eve 1970: A sound clash dance between Killer Whip with Prince Jazzbo on the mic and Ruddy's Supreme Ruler Of Sound with I-Roy on the mic. In the crowd that night id record producer Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd who was so impressed with Jazzbo's performance that he asked him to come down to Brentford Road the following morning to record for Studio One. This was not the last time that these two deejays would come up against each other...
Roy Samuel Reid was born on 28th June 1944 in the rural parish of St. Thomas and would defend his deejay name against accusations of being a U-Roy impersonator by stating categorically "Me name Roy Reid. U-Roy name Ewart Beckford" and then spelling out "E.W.A.R.T.. Me name R.O.Y..." There was never anything the least bit unoriginal about the man named I-Roy who began to learn his deejay trade for 'Soul Bunnies' before graduating to the Spanish Town based Sound System Son's Junior. He next moved to Ruddy's and then on to Stereo before working with V Rocket before graduating to the Waterhouse, Kingston based King Tubby's Home Town Hi-Fi in 1972 after U-Roy had gone on his first UK tour.
"Well Tubbs no bother fret. Me have a deejay called I-Roy... him sound the same like U-Roy. Me a go bring him in. Him up a Spanish Town. Sometime he play a sound called Wasp, Ruddy's or Stereo. I bring him in now and it was an honour for him to come and play Tubby's sound. They never looked back and I start to do a lot of recording with I-Roy too and I-Roy becomes like one of the most famous deejays. They used to say him is the most intelligent deejay. The man used to have some great lyrics. In real life though him and U-Roy never really got on. That in itself is another story. It can't be a book although it's a long story. Yeah man... U-Roy and I-Roy." Bunny 'Striker' Lee
Original deejay Daddy U-Roy's advice to "do not imitate because I originate" did little to discourage the pretenders to his musical throne. Fierce, antagonistic rivalry was always prevalent amongst the deejay school but their differences would usually be aired live and direct at a dance. This was not always the case. Jazzbo maintains he "always lived good with everybody" but his first self produced release 'Crankie Bine', where Jazzbo disparaged women of allegedly easy virtue, prompted pleas for tolerance in an answer version from Big Youth:
"Jah is the judge. A no judge them.
Then who are you that I should be mindful of?"
'African Daughter' Big Youth
Big Youth was also dismissive of I-Roy when he recalled the occasions when the Lord Tippertone Sound had clashed with Tubby's Home Town Hi-Fi: "I-Roy? Me just mash him up every time!"
King Tubby's Studio, Waterhouse, Kingston 1975: Johnny Clarke's update, in 'Striker' Lee's 'flyers style', of John Holt's beautiful Studio One love song 'Do You Love Me' instigates the contest.
Straight To Jazzbo's Head - I-Roy - Bar Bell/Micron
"I-Roy was at the studio one evening and he left and went away and Jazzbo came in from around the corner with a friend of mine called George from Monica's Records in Toronto, Canada. He used to come and cut specials so the artists got some money too and I used to give him the rhythms. So Jazzbo came and he couldn't do the tune and I-Roy came back and said 'Jazzbo man if you was a jukebox I wouldn't put a dime into your slot' and I said 'Tubbs take this!' so I-Roy said he was ready to voice the tune now and I said 'Oh no, no no! It's voiced already Knits'. We used to call I-Roy 'Knits' through him wear the knits ganzie (Italian knitwear) so I put out the tune." Bunny 'Striker' Lee
"I had gone to King Tubby's studio. When I arrived I saw I-Roy with Bunny Lee, Tappa Zukie and Scientist. Tubby was preparing to voice I-Roy and as he 'set up' and balanced I-Roy he pressed the record button. It started as a 'run down' and I-Roy began insulting me on the microphone. Everyone in the room laughed except me! Bunny Lee said he was going to release the tape and he did! This was the origin of the tracks". Prince Jazzbo
It all started when George came to Jamaica... he ran one of the biggest record shops in Canada and he wanted some singles, one from me and one from Jazzbo. So we went to King Tubby's Studio. Bunny Lee was the producer who had the rhythms now and he made Jazzbo go into the studio first to do his track. Jazzbo was in the studio about an hour and a half... 'He couldn't get the lyrics right! Him couldn't get the feel'. So Striker Lee said 'Jazzbo come out of the studio and let I-Roy do him tune man...' because it came like a joke. In Jamaica studio time is money and studios are paid by the hour. So I went in the studio and said 'Tubby. Roll the tape' and Tubby rolled the tape and I said 'Prince Jazzbo if you were a jukebox I wouldn't put a dime into your slot. Move out of the way!'... And that was the first take because the whole thing was a joke that becomes a reality." I-Roy
Both I-Roy and Prince Jazzbo insisted it was just a 'run down' un Tubby's that fateful night but the joke got out of hand when Bunny released the 'test'. The public loved it and the record was a huge hit. Prince Jazzbo never liked the idea but felt he had no choice to respond as "it was just like a sound system duel". The following records are programmed, with their respective dub versions, in the same order that I-Roy and Striker Lee recounted long after the dust had settled on the big showdown.
Straight To I-Roy's Head - Prince Jazzbo - Black Ark
"bout a week after the record came out and started bubbling in the record shops all over the place. Bunny Lee went to Jazzbo and said 'Jazzbo I-Roy a take a liberty with you. Come we go a studio and make a tune about I-Roy. And Jazzbo went straight to my head! Jazzbo had to have something to say!" I-Roy
"And Jazzbo said 'Bwoy. Mr. Lee? What kind of joke is that?' but I said the only thing you can do now is make back a song. U-Roy and U Brown were together on Tubby's Sound at that time and Jazzbo and U Brown came to me and said they wanted a rhythm so I gave him a John Holt rhythm 'Do You Love Me' in the flyers style (for I-Roy's record). And so Jazzbo talked and did a tune. 'I-Roy you a boy. You imitate the great U-Roy' so it caused a big conflict just like the Derrick Morgan and Prince Buster thing." Bunny 'Striker' Lee
Padlock - I-Roy - Steady
The next stop was Channel One on Maxfield Avenue where I-Roy was the in-house arranger and producer for the Chinese Jamaican Hookim brothers.
"... I just put a padlock on his mouth permanently. I went to Channel One because the competition a get so crabbit. It was a joke because the cat was so scruffy... just look 'pon him dentures man! He was the one who took it seriously because he was so annoyed but the joke was on him being he was so ugly." I-Roy
"After Jazzbo came back I-Roy said he was looking for Princess Jazzbo!" Bunny 'Striker' Lee
Gal Boy I-Roy - Prince Jazzbo - Justice
And so Jazzbo linked up with Bunny Lee again...
"And Jazzbo came back with 'I-Roy you act like a girl and all them things'." Bunny 'Striker' Lee
"In Jamaica I'm the best dressed man that walks the street. Them allegations were just false rumours because he had nothing to say." I-Roy
Jazzbo Have Fe Run - I-Roy - Micron
Events caught up with Jazzbo and the next chapter is introduced by Prince Far I and I-Roy discussing his altercation with 'Leggo Beast' outside of Randy's Record Shop on North Parade. "Big Youth do a tune 'Wise Shepherd' and Jazzbo a go in the studio and listen. But before the Big Youth tune come out on the street Jazzbo made a tune 'Wise Shepherd' with the same lyrics. So him no come into town now! That time he lived out on Cockburn Pen in a little pig pen. Heh, heh, heh... This time he came into Randy's on North Parade and profiled with his little basket of records. And 'Leggo Beast' (hit him with) one lick with a bottle and Jazzbo a drop flat under a moving van... head bust up and all them things... and when the van move off Jazzbo a get up and move off like a racehorse. Run past the drugstore name Kincaid. He couldn't get no first aid!" I-Roy
I-Roy The Chiney Commer Around - Derrick Morgan - Attack
The following installment was particularly ironic. Bunny Lee's brother-in-law Derrick Morgan sings a recut of Prince Buster's 'Black Head Chinaman' altering the lyrics to insult I-Roy for working with the Hookims. He calls him 'Low Roy' and accuses him of 'imitating U-Roy till you reach the top' concluding with 'be original like Prince Jazzbo yah boy!"
Straight To Derrick Morgan's Head - I-Roy - Total Sounds
The final round in this saga is probably the best release of all both lyrically and musically. Dirty Harry re-enters the fray as I-Roy takes on all comers over a re-cut of Prince Buster's 'Rough Rider' rhythm drawing inspiration from Buster's 'Hard Man Fe Dead' and disrespecting Derrick Morgan, Bunny Lee and Prince Jazzbo: "Stop going straight to my. This bud can't dead..."
"I-Roy came back with 'Thank you Dirty Harry! We a go a studio right now and make a tune off of it that go clap to their face... Bunny Lee and his brother-in-law Derrick Morgan!' Where I-Roy said he who laughs last laughs the best." Bunny 'Striker' Lee
"The whole thing was instigated by Bunny Lee... I'll show you how big this joke is. Two boxers box against I-Roy now: Derrick Morgan and Jazzbo and still them couldn't win. He dealt with ignorance and I dealt with intelligence." I-Roy
And I-Roy finishes the feud by telling Derrick "Be still I'm your superior" throwing Derrick's riposte to Buster from 'Blazing Fire' (which he had originally sung in 'Be Still') straight back to his head.
The arguments have continued to this day as to who the winner was. Both deejays came up with some inspired invective, however, there can be little doubt that the man who really emerged victorious was 'Striker' Lee as he sat back and counted the takings...
"It generated some life inna the music business!" Bunny 'Striker' Lee
Harry Wise - December 2008
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