When Bob Marley passed away in 1981, many fans outside Jamaica assumed that reggae had died with him. But as Beth Lesser’s intimate tour into the heart of reggae reveals, this couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Blaring along winding paths and blasting from the zinc-roofed shacks of Jamaica’s toughest ghettos, reggae was indeed alive. Ghetto-based sound systems – involving powerful homemade sound equipment, stacks of vinyl, and full of deejay crews- rocked local dancehalls and gave birth to a new golden age of Jamaican music. The ‘80s was the age of dancehall and Lloyd ‘Jammy’ James was King.
Having begun his musical career as an apprentice to King Tubby – the legendary producer, soundman and engineer credited with inventing dub music- Jammy soon moved out on his own to build a musical empire comparable to Coxsone Dodd’s in the ‘60s or King Tubby’s a decade later. Propelled by a fresh approach and a willingness to experiment with new ideas, King Jammy’s sound system ruled the dancehall for much of the ‘80s, as his labels turned out one innovative hit after another, forever changing the sound of reggae music.
In this reissue of the classic book first published by Blackstar Press in 1989, Beth Lesser provides an insider’s account of the crowning of King Jammy. With an achingly beautiful new design and a treasure chest of rare photos, Lesser’s affectionate narrative offers a rare glimpse into the lives of the artists, engineers, deejays, selectors, gatemen, and ghetto-dwellers who played a part in the making of this musical legend,
“The one essential book on ragga remains Beth Lesser’s slim but lively and informative story of King Jammy.”
Peter Dalton. Co-author of Reggae: The Rough Guide
“A musical education and great inspiration to all reggae lovers. Good insight into the Jammy’s musical background”
Dennis Alcapone, Foundation Artist
“Plugging the gap between the roots and ragga and placing Jammy in his rightful position as the key player in reggae’s story from the ‘80s thru into the ’90s, Beth Lesser offers a clear and refreshing take on King Jammy; an essential addition to reggae’s sparely documented history. Lead me to the tunes!”
Steve Barker, host of On the Wire on BBC Radio, Lancashire and dub columnist for the Wire