Friday, September 05, 2014

Hopeton Lewis RIP

My thanks to Aussie mate Mohair Slim for alerting me to the death of Hopeton Lewis, one of the pioneers of rock steady and early reggae, in Brooklyn at the age of 66. Hopeton practically invented rock steady with his 1966 recording of Take It Easy, recorded with Lynn Tait and the Jets, and his first UK release on Island the following year was the eponymously titled Rock Steady recorded in Jamaica for Federal Records. The B side was the equally brilliant Cool Collie, reputedly the first 'herb' record.
Hopeton recorded with Duke Reid but his most successful record was Grooving Out On Life, recorded with Byron Lee and the Dragonaires in 1971.  Later he formed his own company, Bay City Music, and released All Night Bubblin' in 1983 and then turned to gospel, with This Is Gospel in 1996, and Reaching Out To Jesus in 2000.
Here are the two sides of his collectable first Island single, with a re-attached skew-whiff centre.
Here's one of his Duke Reid 45s on Treasure Isle, a duet with Hugh Roy.


At 10:43 am , Blogger Dave C said...

‘Take It Easy’ must have a good case for being the first rock steady record, and/or the inspiration for the name of the genre. Legend has it that Hopeton Lewis asked for the rhythm to be slowed down, and at the end of the recording Gladstone Lewis commented on the rock steady nature of the rhythm.

The OED cites a 1967 advert in the Daily Gleaner as the first reference to rock steady, bracketing above the 1966 Alton Ellis song of the same name, although in the song it is a dance. No matter, it’s the quality of the music that counts, although maybe we could ask Uncle Freddy?

At 10:46 am , Blogger Dave C said...

Publish and be damned. I meant Gladstone Anderson, not Lewis.


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