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Tribute to Yabby You

Tribute to Yabby You

Tribute to Yabby You

By on - 5 comments

Vivian Jackson died of a stroke on January 12, 2010. His works live on.


Yabby YouVivian Jackson – better known as Yabby You – was one of the most uncompromising voices in reggae.

His music, informed by his deep faith, often sounded like it was something out of the Old Testament. And like some prophet in of the Bible, Jackson often wandered the desert, was attacked by his enemies and endured great tribulations in order to get his message across.

Jackson was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1946, one of seven children. At the age of twelve, he was abandoned by his parents and found work making Dutch pots in a furnace located in a rough district of Waterhouse. The fumes from the furnace ravaged his lungs and he was repeatedly hospitalized. When he was 17 he became seriously ill, suffering from the effects of malnutrition. While in hopsital, doctors told him that his young body was also wracked with arthritis. Physically unable to do the kind of work he had done before, Jackson hustled a living on the street, living hand to mouth for many years. Despite these austere circumstances, Jackson has described this time in his life as "carefree".

By his early twenties, Jackson had become a Rastafarian, although he did not believe in the divinity of Emperor Haile Selassie. His Christian beliefs were at odds with the other Rastas he knew and he was given the nickname "Jesus Dread" as a result of his ideas. While the disagreements he had with other Rastas were usually civil, in later years Jackson would be physically threatened for his beliefs.

Jackson's initial experience with music was not very encouraging: despite not being a very strong singer, he joined a vocal trio and just as they were about to record their first song, a member of the band went behind his back and recorded one of Jackson's tunes with another singer. Once he discovered the treachery, Jackson broke with the group and the experience made him eternally cagey about working with others.

After a prolonged argument with some Rastas about spiritual matters, Jackson had a vision that compelled him to get into a recording studio to get his ideas on tape. To get the money he needed to hire a studio, Jackson returned to his previous work at the furnace, in spite of warnings from the doctors at the hospital. It took him almost two years to scrape together enough money to to buy a reel of tape and hire Dynamic studio for half an hour. Luckily, a crew of top musicians such as Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace, Earl "Chinna" Smith and Aston "Familyman" Barrett were willing to play for free, captivated by the young dread's vision and determination. The song was "Conquering Lion" (1972), one of Jackson's signature tunes and which gave him his famous nickname after the haunting chorus of "be-you, yabby yabby you..."

Over the next year, Jackson released a handful of other excellent records, including "Love Thy Neighbour" and "Warn The Nation". In 1975, he released the Conquering Lion album, a true cornerstone of Jamaican roots music. From there, Jackson continued to sing and produce some of the most amazing music ever recorded in Jamaica. Although continually suspicious of the music industry, his charisma and talent attracted some of the best singers, deejays and musicians, not to mention the legendary King Tubby, whose dub mixes of Jackson's heavy and spooky songs took dub to higher heights.

Yabby You albums

For nearly forty years, Jackson crafted some of the most dynamic and intensely spiritual music of our time, despite having to deal with perpetually ill health, music industry pirates, and open hostility from many Rastas who continued to criticize his Christian ideals. He never wavered from following his own path in his life and in his music.

Yabby you - Jesus DreadIn 1997, Blood & Fire released the stunning double album Jesus Dread, a comprehensive set of Jackson's work from 1972-1977. Any true reggae fan will own a copy of this magnificent collection. It put the spotlight back on Jackson, whose music richly deserved a wider audience.

Throughout the 2000s, Jackson re-released many of his old singles and albums, quietly trying to reclaim them from bootleg editions that had been on the market for many years. He also recorded new music including Jah Will Be Done (1997) released on the Canadian Prophet Records label. Despite his failing health, Jackson also continued to perform live; a search on YouTube will reveal footage of him quietly making his way to the microphone on crutches to sing "Love Thy Neighbour" and receiving ecstatic applause from the audience.

Vivian Jackson died of a stroke on January 12, 2010. His works live on.

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Read comments (5)

Posted by Weero I on 02.04.2010
Stop the divide and rule vibe...Yabby you was a Rastaman, no matter what. Difference in opinion is always welcome. He definitely was not a christian in the sense that some of you pundits would want us to think.

Posted by Karl NZ on 02.06.2010
Jah live Vivian Yabby You Jackson, your music will be forever your memory eternal.

Posted by supahdan on 02.08.2010
Ride on home Lion Dread...Jah himself a wait pon yuh!!

Posted by Ras GZ (Russia) on 02.13.2010
We are all HIS children! And we all go to Him sooner or later! Yabby You - Rest In Zion! Selah!

Posted by PJ on 08.06.2010
Jesus thee Dread from the ghetto.
Yabby You a see!!!!!

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