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Interview: Fil Callender (Part 1)

Interview: Fil Callender (Part 1)

Interview: Fil Callender (Part 1)

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"All the time I was at Studio 1 I never saw Coxsone raise his voice"

From the late 60s to the early 70s FilbertoFilCallender was house drummer at Coxsone Dodd’s legendary Studio 1 Records. In that time he motored some of the greatest Jamaican rhythms ever created including Satta Massagana, Real Rock, Hot Milk, Drifter and Queen of the Minstrel.

Callender, however, was not Jamaican by birth. He migrated to the island from Panama as a teenager and was absorbed into the vibrant live and studio scene: bringing latent Afro Latin and American jazz influences to the bubbling pot of flavours being cooked up at 13 Brentford Road. In addition to hitting the drums Fil was a guitarist - playing on classic songs by Dennis Brown, Max Romeo and Burning Spear.

After he left Studio 1 Callender formed his group In Crowd who would be responsible for 70s roots anthems such as His Majesty is Coming, We Play Reggae, Back A Yard and Mango Walk. By the 1980s Callender retired from secular music to pursue his Christian faith.

United Reggae became interested in interviewing Fil in 2012 when Sly Dunbar credited him with creating of the Steppers drumbeat on Winston FrancisMr Fix It. Angus Taylor got in touch and corresponded until we heard he was to be awarded the Order of Distinction for services to music in 2013.

This interview was recorded on September 5th 2013. Due to unforeseen circumstances part one is only being published now. Yet the timing is serendipitous: for the reformed In Crowd are preparing their first EP and album release in years…

Fil Callender

How are you today?

I’m fine thanks, and I just want to thank you for making contact and for setting up this interview.

Thank you for taking the time to do it. The first question is, you were born in Panama, can you tell me about some of the rhythms you heard growing up there?

I grew up in a Spanish-oriented culture. We had mostly the salsa and mambo which were indigenous to the culture. I was born in the city of Colon and growing up that was the main aspect of the music in the Panamanian culture, but we were also exposed to American music and other music across the world. I wasn’t very involved in music, funnily enough, when going to school in Panama but I was fascinated with the rhythms, especially the salsa rhythms with the drums and the keyboard and so forth.

What were you interested in when you were at school?

I liked sports. I thought I was a runner but I found out the hard way that I wasn’t (laughs). I liked basketball. I thought maybe I could have been a good player, but it didn’t come to pass. They used to have the high school bands, drum corps, which are popular in Panama. I was never part of it, funnily enough. There was this guy who played the lead drum, the snare. I used to think I could try and emulate him but I’d never played the drums actually. I just liked to watch him play. He was very good. I guess that was the beginning of my roots, watching him. His name was George. Watching him play the snare and roll it, hoping that maybe one day I could do something like that. I never joined the drum corps, don’t know why. It’s a funny thing. I never played music in Panama. Until I came to Jamaica.

The drumming of the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari was one of the starting points for me

In Panama did you hear any Cumbia from Colombia? The only reason I ask is there are some cosmetic similarities to ska and reggae in there.

Not a whole lot, but a little. I was a part of the Jamaican culture. You had the Jamaican neighbourhood in Panama in the city of Colon. I grew up there in that neighbourhood. A funny thing, you know? I was never a part of the Panamanian culture, so to speak. I guess I was a Jamaican at heart, although at that time I didn’t know it. Also contained in the Jamaican community were some aspects of Jamaican music, some mento and I think a little calypso. We were exposed to some of that.

How much US music were you hearing on the radio?

There was the radio station called the Armed Forces radio coming from the American side. Americans are very much prominent in Panama, so a lot of American music like rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm ‘n’ blues, a lot of the hit songs that were popular in America were broadcast on the radio. I was very much a part of that, loving and liking it. I remember listening to music like La Bamba by Richie Valens, at the time it was very popular. I loved the rhythm ‘n’ blues and the rock ‘n’ roll and all those types of music coming from the American side, but I also liked jazz a lot. Funny enough the mento or calypso weren’t playing on the radio that often so I guess I wanted to hear a little more about that type of music but didn’t get it.

Did the great jazz drummers of the age make an impact on you before you actually started?

Yes, that’s a very good question. I remember listening to Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, and loving the drums. The drummer Joe Morello, I used to study them and listen to his solos over and over and over again. I liked the big band jazz sound that they used to play a lot also. I was very much influenced by American music. I liked Frank Sinatra and those types of singers. Elvis Presley was a favourite of mine. Then later on the Stylistics and those groups.

Hugh Malcolm was just as great as Lloyd Knibb

How did you come to migrate to Jamaica?

I was still in high school and we were having some trouble in Panama. At the time South America and Central America were being threatened by Communism. It reached Panama at a certain level. We were caught between the rightist and the leftist movements during that period and there was some violence. I didn’t really know my father, just my mother raised me and my brother and my sister. She decided to migrate because there was lots of violence going on at the time, especially in Colon. The Communist infiltration there, lots of people died and some houses were burned down, so she moved us to Jamaica.

I came to Jamaica reluctantly because I was still in school and I had to leave all my friends for a place that I knew nothing about. I was the oldest one. I was maybe 13 or 14. I have a younger brother who was a member of the In Crowd band, who plays the bass. He was two years younger than me, and I have a sister who is in Canada, who was five years younger than us. They are both abroad. Anyway, when I came to Jamaica I was a bit upset for a while. Not knowing the culture that well and trying to adjust, but I loved the music. It just hit me right off, listening to the ska bands who were playing a lot. It fascinated me. You never used to hear that type of music in Panama. I started to go around listening to the bands. I wanted to play basketball but there weren’t a lot of people who were into basketball, it was more just football and I don’t think I was a good football player. So I wasn’t able to adjust properly for a while but I guess the music kind of kept me occupied.

Apart from the music, what were your impressions of Jamaica when you arrived?

At first I was a bit estranged but I started to get adjusted to the culture. I started to listen to not just the music but I listened a lot to Rastafari aspects and I found that interesting. My mother took us to church. We were very Catholic from Panama, so we got adjusted into the Catholic Church out here, so I got involved in that and maybe playing a little music. That was my first involvement in music and I started to play around with the drums, but it was mainly because of the reggae culture why I was fascinated with the music.

To answer your question fully, I liked the Jamaican culture, particularly the women at the time (laughs). I thought they were the most beautiful women on earth, even though you did have pretty women in Panama but it was a bit more wide and varied in Jamaica. I didn’t adjust very well in school but I had to stick with it just to survive. I was kind of fascinated with the politics. At the time Jamaica was just making its transition to being independent, listening to the various parties; the JLP and the PNP. I was fascinated with Michael Manley’s ideology. Then the Rastafari movement was involved a lot with some of the political aspects, so it was kind of interesting for me.

Tell me about your first interactions with the Rastafarian culture.

I remember, one day we went to the country, Ocho Rios I think, and one of my friends introduced me to a Rasta village where the Rasta drummers Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, were in concert. I was about 15 or 16. I thought that that was the greatest thing I’d ever heard, listening to their drums. I was very much fascinated with it and started to listen more and more to the music and getting into the Rasta culture, even though I myself wasn’t a Rasta I was drawn to it. I think the drumming of the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari was one of the starting points for me in pursuing and going further into trying to learn drums and play a bit more.

How did you transition from the church and Rasta drumming to secular music?

There was this priest in the church who had a youth group and we were a part of it. He encouraged us to play music and there were some kind of instruments that were a little dilapidated but we worked with them and I started to play around with the drums. I was kind of self-taught at the time. I listened a lot to the radio, not reggae because reggae wasn’t on it, mostly ska and then some aspects of rocksteady. I used to go around to the various clubs where the bands used to play; live bands like Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, and Carlos Malcolm, and another band called The Vikings which was one of the top. Those bands were called dance bands.

Yes, this was the era of the bands.

If you belonged to a band then you’d play all of the top ten hits, both from America and Jamaica. So I used to go and listen to them and go back home and practise and listen again and practise. I remember going to Carlos Malcolm band and watching Boris Gardiner playing the bass and singing. I remember saying “Wow!” That really influenced me a lot. Carlos Malcolm was a very good musician and songwriter and I loved his music.

Was sound system a part of your musical upbringing at all or was it more about the live bands?

More of the live bands. The problem with the sound systems was that my mother didn’t allow me to go to those places where the sound systems would play. She thought it was a little dangerous. It was just the live bands because I was living near to a popular club called the Sombrero Club and that was where most of the top bands played on the weekends. I was allowed to go there because it was a bit safer for me. I watched a lot of drummers and was very much fascinated with them. I used to listen to Lloyd Knibb a lot. When the Skatalites used to play live I used to go and listen and be bowled over with him especially, playing the drums. Because of this fascination I went down to Coxsone studio down at Brentford Road just to listen to the Skatalites when they used to play. Sometimes when they were recording you could hear the music bleeding outside, so I could hear it faintly, especially the drums.

How did you enter the business?

One day I was there up close and listening and this fellow called me, his name was Hedley Jones, a producer at Coxsone studio. He asked what I was doing and I told him “I just came to listen to the music” because he thought I was maybe trying to get promoted somehow. One thing led to another and we became friends. He was very nice and he encouraged me. He asked me what instrument I liked and I told him the drums and he said if I was interested and serious in playing drums that he would be my tutor, he would teach me. There was a drum set in his office at Coxsone studio, not outside or round the back. I accepted it and I used to go every day and he gave me lessons. It lasted for maybe a year and a half going there for lessons, then he left for the country because he was a big musician in his own right and used to play in Ocho Rios a lot. He used to go on weekends, play and come back for work.

I went down to Brentford Road just to listen to the Skatalites play

To cut a long story, he eventually left for good to play in the country, so that fell through, but he put me onto Aubrey Adams, another very prominent musician, and he continued my tutoring. It lasted for maybe about two years, being tutored and guided by Aubrey Adams. He put me in some small bands that he was nurturing and encouraging. Sometimes, when I was improving he took me and some of the younger guys to play at some of the nightclubs that he and Ernest Ranglin used to play, at the Courtleigh Manor and so on, so it used to give us a chance to play maybe a song or two. That was very exciting.

What did you learn under Hedley and how did your guidance under Aubrey take it further?

Hedley taught me the basic rudiments of drums and I found that very, very good for me because I learnt drums formally. He gave me some basic foundations there and after Aubrey took it a bit further and taught me how to play certain rhythms. Under Aubrey I think I also learned a lot. It wasn’t just me, it was also some other young students on the bass and on the piano. I was part of that. He taught us to play the Cumbia, and the basic aspects of the ska, and other types of Jamaican music, mento and those types of rhythms, and some basic aspects of jazz. I think that was very good for me.

Did you meet Ernest Ranglin at that time?

That came years later. I never actually met him personally but I played with him on the bandstand with Aubrey Adams, the times he used to take us to play. But I never actually conversed with him or interacted with him. It was very exciting, because I knew who he was and I knew how he could play. And he was very nice because he knew it was Aubrey who had some students that he was teaching and giving us an opportunity to have some experience on the bandstand, so he didn’t object to anything. Years later on when I started to play Studio 1 it was so funny because I met him formally and we played together on some songs. I don’t think he remembered who I was, that I was a young drummer at the time, playing with Aubrey. I don’t think so because it didn’t come up.

When did you pick up the guitar?

That’s a good question. When I was with Hedley Jones learning the drums he had this guitar in his office, he had some instruments there. He had two or three guitars and when he went to the country to do gigs he took two of them and left one. He gave me some set of instructions and some homework in drumming that I needed to follow and when he came back I was supposed to demonstrate what I learned. He also gave me this book with rudimental drumming and so forth. I used to open the guitar, against his wishes, and just play along. I was just fascinated with the guitar, just play along, pick, pick, pick, pick.

I remember one day he found out that I was playing around with the guitar when he came back. He kind of scolded me and said “You just want to learn everything at one time but you need to concentrate on one instrument. I gave you the drums and you went against my wishes and violated my guitar” and all of that. He was a bit upset and he was threatening to stop everything. Anyway, he didn’t. But to answer your question, that was the beginning of everything playing around with the guitar. Later on, through the same church band because I was still going to church in the new group, this priest encouraged us to form a little band. So I formed this little band in the youth group and gradually we required some better instruments. I eventually bought a guitar because I wanted to.

How did you meet the guitarist Eric Frater, and how did your time at Studio 1 begin?

I was playing around with these little groups and still with the church band. I met Eric Frater, I don’t remember where but I think it was at some party. He was playing in a band called The Virtues. The drummer left, so he asked me to come and play drums. While playing with The Virtues I improved a lot, actually doing some of the stuff I used to watch other musicians do in Byron Lee and those bands, so I was very excited. Then one day Eric called me, came to my house about midday and he said “Fil, come, let’s go down to Studio 1 and record, they need a drummer” because he knew what I was doing in The Virtues.

When I went down to Studio 1 the musicians were all there waiting in the studio, very upset and disgruntled because there was no drummer. I don’t know why the drummer didn’t turn up, but they must have been promised a drummer for about two or three hours and they were waiting to do this session with Ken Boothe. So when I came they were actually kind of cussing and saying “Oh drummy, oh you cause so much trouble!” I’d just come into Studio 1 for the first time and I get the blame for the other drummer who didn’t turn up (laughs).

Who was this other drummer who didn’t turn up?

I didn’t know. That’s a very good question because later on I studied the history. I came in at a period where it was a transition between ska and rocksteady. Coxsone changed the band’s name from the Skatalites during the rocksteady transition and called it the Soul Brothers and they kind of slowed down from ska to a slower rhythm. But that was before me. I did a little history research and there was a drummer called Drumbago who I heard was probably part of the history after Lloyd Knibb left.

Lloyd Knibb he remained and I think that Lloyd was a part of that transition to breaking down ska to rocksteady, but eventually left. He tutored another musician called Bunny Williams, a drummer. So based on my understanding, Drumbago was more like a freelancer there and I think that Bunny Williams came in as a steady drummer, the main drummer that took over from Lloyd Knibb. Then there was another drummer, a good drummer called Joe Isaacs who used to play with Beverley’s and Lynn Taitt but he used to freelance a lot at Studio 1. This is serious reggae drumming history.

Indeed it is.

So right after Lloyd Knibb and some stuff with Drumbago, the two main drummers that played the hits at that period were Bunny Williams and in some cases Joe Isaacs. I’m talking about songs like Darker Shade of Black, Drum Song, some of the early Heptones songs like Baby and Why Did You Leave? and Ken Boothe hits like Moving Away, Puppet On A String. I remember those songs. I used to hear those songs on the radio and loved them to death, and love the drumming. At the time I was still playing with Virtues and it was a dream of mine to get an opportunity to play on a record like that and play like those guys. I used to study Bunny Williams, his roll techniques, and some of the times I know now that I used to mix up some of the playing with Joe Isaacs. So I would say, between Joe Isaacs and Bunny Williams, they were responsible for some of those songs.

Shortly after that, that’s when I came in because as I understand it Bunny Williams went on a tour with the Soul Vendors – Coxsone changed the name from the Soul Brothers to the Soul Vendors, he was using the name interchanging. They went on a tour to Europe and Bunny Williams didn’t return, that’s some of the history I’m hearing. Then Joe Isaacs came in and was doing some freelancing but he was never a steady part of the Soul Brothers although he played on a lot of the hits. He played on songs like Bob Andy I’ve Got To Go Back Home. There was another drummer called Malcolm, I forget his last name…

Hugh Malcolm?

He was one of the greatest drummers. I would consider him a serious unsung hero, nobody knows about him. He was just as great as Lloyd Knibb because I consider Lloyd a great drummer, his techniques, everything, and I used to study Lloyd Knibb. But there was another guy come in, he used to play at Studio 1 too called Malcolm. He played on some great songs. I can tell you a song he played on: Ride Your Donkey. That song was responsible, in my opinion it was the first reggae song. A lot of musicians have their own versions of how reggae started, right?

Yes, there are many.

I have my own version too. They mention Studio 1, but I’m not going to big up myself, I played on some songs that they consider as reggae. My opinion is those songs weren’t reggae, like Nanny Goat. I’m straying a little, but the drums that I play on Nanny Goat, it wasn’t reggae, it was rocksteady. Boris Gardiner played the bass and the both of us can testify to that. In my opinion what actually brought in reggae was we had a lot of competition during that period with Joe Isaacs doing some great stuff, with Lynn Taitt at Beverley’s and also another drummer, I forget his name, down at Duke Reid, so a lot of things were happening, not just at Studio 1. I would say all of us were contributing to the music at that period.

How reggae came about, in my opinion there was a song, Ride Your Donkey, I don’t remember where it was recorded but I know it was Malcolm played the drums, and he started his cymbal high hat thing. He’d double up on the high hat and he was playing some other stuff on the drums like a shuffle, and that is what brought in the reggae rhythm because with the high hat playing, and if you listen again to Ride Your Donkey when you have the chance and listen to it carefully, the rhythm pattern and the high hat pattern and then what the guitarist was playing, in my opinion that was reggae. It wasn’t coined reggae at the time but that was the beginning of it. I would say that was one of the first. When I heard Ride Your Donkey I was blown away, I never heard drumming like that before in my life.

Bunny Lee’s just released a film where he says that Stranger Cole and Lester Sterling Bangarang is the first reggae.

Yes, I read that.

Then both Ernest Ranglin and Niney said that the first reggae was Monty Morris - Say What You’re Saying.

OK, to some extent I wouldn’t disagree with them. But what I think, and this is just my opinion, is that as I said before all the musicians that were playing during that period were involved in an experiment in the evolvement of reggae coming down from the ska. The rocksteady was a prominent part of the music but it was also a transition that was taking place. A lot of experimentation was being done by different musicians, drummers, guitarists. There were those two tunes that you mentioned, and I agree with that. Toots and the Maytals mentioned a song, I forget what song it was, that was reggae.

Do The Reggay.

Do The Reggay, right. And I think this was a combination of what all the musicians were doing in the studios. I don’t think that one person could make a claim and say he was the one that invented reggae. It was a combination of what all the various musicians were doing in various songs. Later on somebody coined the word ‘reggae’ and went to say “OK. This is reggae now”. But some of what Bunny Lee says, I agree with that but I also remember what I was saying, what Malcolm was also doing and so forth. Even some stuff down at Studio 1: the shuffle that Jackie Mittoo did in Nanny Goat on the keyboard, a lot of people say that that was a beginning - that was a reggae rhythm, so I wouldn’t disagree with that.

Ride Your Donkey was the first reggae song

I think it’s a combination of stuff. Later on other musicians listened to other musicians playing on various different songs and put all of those ingredients in another song and keep building and building until it transitioned into another type of music, with the cymbals and the guitars playing certain things. That is just my opinion but I think it’s from a contribution of all the various styles that reggae came about.

Let’s get back to your first session at Studio 1 with Ken Boothe. What came out of that session?

When I arrived at the session I went straight on the drumkit. Can you imagine? I’m a green musician, not seasoned in session. I go straight on the drums and they just go “One, Two” and I have to just roll and just start. The song was Come Tomorrow with Ken Boothe. It’s one of his hits. Anyway, I played on the song and the musicians didn’t complain so I take it that they were satisfied with what I was doing.

But the engineer came in while they were rehearsing the song and I was playing. He said to me “Hey youth, mi no know why you mash up instrument in the middle of the studio, we not a bandstand thing this, yunno? You don’t have to lick the drums so hard, you mash up mi thing” (laughs). I wasn’t trained in studio recording so I was hitting the drums hard. In those days when we used to play on the bandstand we weren’t miked up, so you have to play hard to be heard. So I’m used to playing hard. When I’m going to the studio I lick the drum hard and I guess the meters in the studio - I almost pinged the meters, you know? (laughs) He came in and gave me a good cussing! But it was a learning experience.

Who was the engineer? And who were the musicians that you played with on that first session?

Sylvan Morris. It was Jackie Mittoo on piano, I think Boris Gardiner on the bass, Eric Frater and another great guitarist named Patrick McDonald, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him. He was a part of the Studio 1 package also, which contributed to that great sound. He was a jazz guitarist. They had two guitarists, Eric Frater and him. And you had some of the horns men, you had a trombone guy Trommy…

Vin Gordon?

Vin Gordon, right! And Deadly Hedley they called him, the saxophone guy. That was the line-up. But Jackie Mittoo was very cool. He was actually the music director. He didn’t say a word, just stayed in his chair at the piano. I was going and I was very worried that I would keep this steady beat and so Eric Frater kind of comforted me and said “That’s cool man, just feel like you play on the bandstand and you’ll be alright”. I took that a little too far! But it went well and the song was a hit. Come Tomorrow wasn’t one of Ken’s biggest hits but it was a foundation hit at the time.

I don't think that one person could claim he invented reggae

We did several sessions that day and all of them were hits. I would say basically except for that shake-up from the engineer, which was something I needed to learn, it went well. Then they said to me when the song finished “Hey drummy! That nice, man!” I didn’t know what was going on, I’d just gone to help out Eric and the next thing you know they’ve asked me to come the next day and I was a part of the group. The main reason is because I was because I was more steady, they could depend on me. Joe Isaacs used to come sometimes. It was Joe Isaacs who was supposed to turn up, I think.

How about Coxsone? When were you formally introduced to him?

That’s a good question! Before I went to Studio 1 I used to hear rumours about Coxsone. They used to say “Bwoy, yunno… Brethren, Coxsone’s a dangerous man, yunno? You don’t play around. You better play good or he’ll kill you, yunno. Him a shoot you and box you up”. Other guys, artists and so on, passed those kind of rumours, so I was scared of Coxsone. They showed me the Coxsone car – a long black Chevrolet and I got even more afraid because it was black and it made me apprehensive, like a gangster thing.

Anyway, I didn’t meet Coxsone until the week after. One day they said “Coxsone want to see you in the office” and I started to shake like a leaf. That was after a week of playing there. But Jackie Mittoo accepted me and helped me, he guided me in some aspects of rhythm and so on, so I was accepted by the musicians. But I didn’t know if Coxsone accepted me and I didn’t know if Coxsone was pleased with my playing or not. So when I heard that he wanted to see me in his office I started to shake and think “Coxsone going to beat me up now”.

Anyway I went into the office and I’ll tell you this, Coxsone was the most gentle man I ever met in all of my life. He was soft-spoken, he was gentle, he was wise like a father figure. He spoke to me with wisdom, knowing that I was a youth. He could see the nervousness on my face and he comforted me and he spoke “Hey drummy, yeah man, just sit down. That’s cool. That’s easy, man. I hear so many things you’re playing, and I like it”. That’s how he was talking to me and I was amazed because I thought that this man called me in for either fire me or lick me down. Anyway, it went well and we became very good friends. He was so gentle. I found that Coxsone remained like that. All the time I was at Studio 1 I never seen Coxsone raise his voice. There were times I could see he was upset about something, he’d just walk out of the room. That was my encounter with Coxsone and it was a very good one.

How involved was Coxsone in the actual recording?

Good question. Coxsone, as I said, was a quiet man and he was reserved. He wasn’t into the studio a lot. He didn’t come into the studio a lot when we were playing. Once in a while he would come in. Coxsone was also an engineer, a very good one too, a very competent engineer, just as good as Sylvan Morris. There were some days when Sylvan was sick and Coxsone was the one who did the engineering. I would tell you this, any time that Coxsone would come to do the engineering we were so happy. Sylvan Morris is a good engineer but he had some kind of mannerisms sometimes that we couldn’t take, you know? How he behaved sometimes.

Coxsone was a more gentle man, more understanding and more patient. Sometimes we would be maybe working on a song and the song is not quite working out that well. Sylvan would just lose it and be like “I don’t wanna waste time on this foolishness you no play” where Coxsone, he would just be calm like “OK, OK, OK. Try it again. Try it again. You might get it better”. That used to go down better with us. And also the engineering was good too. In that aspect Coxsone was a little sometimes involved in the music in that regard.

Coxsone was a very competent engineer, just as good as Sylvan Morris

When he had to be.

Yeah, right. Basically I didn’t see Coxsone a lot into the studio, he would prefer to remain in the background and listen to the songs when we’d finished. But he was a very good judge of music, he had a good ear, a very good judge of singing and voice and all of that. Coxsone would amaze us all from time to time when he would prophesise and be like “That singer” where we were like “He no sound good” but then eventually the singer became a hit.

Like for instance, where Horace Andy came into the studio, Coxsone recorded him first. We were recording and doing Skylarking. When he came into the studio… Jackie Mittoo used to audition the musicians and the singers. Sometimes he’d have a whole heap of groups outside, waiting in line to be auditioned and not all of them would get through for the day but sometimes Jackie Mittoo would get a little upset because so much musicians, so much singers out there sometimes and he would just want to hurry up and finish the day. It depends, some days he’d be better. He was a nice guy too, don’t get me wrong, he was a nice guy to work with but some days he was a little impatient. Sometimes if a group come in and don’t sound good he would say “Come again tomorrow, you’re not ready yet”. A lot of that used to happen.

So when Horace Andy came and open his mouth and you hear that kind of fine sound it was one of the biggest joke because I’d never heard anybody sing like that and in the tone of the voice, you know? It sounds ridiculous, right? And the band pop up and laughing and Jackie Mittoo says “Hey bwoy, come back another day. Change your voice and come back” and everybody laughing. It was one of the times Coxsone was there. Coxsone was always in the background, just listening and don’t say anything, so when everybody’s laughing Coxsone just made a comment, and he’d rarely make comments in the studio, he just said “I don’t like the song, but I like the voice”. We were all bowled over. We couldn’t believe what we were hearing. We thought Coxsone must be mad! Because this guy sounds like a joke, it’s ridiculous when you hear that kind of voice. But you know, the rest is history.

Read part 2 of this exclusive interview here.

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Read comments (1)


Posted by O'Neil Walker on 11.20.2016
It is strange, I have known Fill for a long time but never knew of his history at Studio 1. I can remember filling in for Robby in the In Crowd while he was on tour.

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