More dreadful news while I've been away in the Northern Isles: the death of the King of Ska and Rocksteady Prince Buster
at the age of 78. A prolific producer, singer and songwriter, who released dozens of 45s during the mid sixties, he was far and away the best known Jamaican artist of the era and a huge influence on later ska revival bands such as Madness and The Specials. His label Blue Beat, a subsidiary of Melodisc, became the popular name for ska, and Buster - real name Cecil Bustamente Campbell - was definitely in a league of his own. He also had records released on the Fab and Prince Buster labels, and even one on Stateside (30 Pieces of Silver).
I remember a very hot sweaty evening at the Electric Ballroom in Camden in 1999 when Prince Buster played to a packed and very excited hall. Dressed in a black leather suit, he was quite superb on a string of his better known compositions, including his biggest UK hit Al Capone, Shaking Up Orange Street, Too Hot, Madness, Whine and Grine, Big Five, Enjoy Yourself, One Step Beyond and Rough Rider. One number he didn't do that night was the controversial Ten Commandments of Man but this is perhaps the song for which he is best known. Other classic tracks include Judge Dread, Ghost Dance, Earthquake, Texas Hold Up and Wash Wash. A couple of photos from the gig are above and below.
The Vinyl Word also raises a glass to R and B and Beach Music singer Clifford Curry
, who has died aged 79. Best known for his 1967 R and B hit She Shot A Hole In My Soul, he went on to become a major figure in the South Carolina Beach Music scene. Earlier in his career he was a member of several doowop groups, including the Echoes and the Five Pennies, and recorded for Excello as Sweet Clifford. The photo above shows Clifford at the Blues Estafette in Utrecht in 1995 when he was one of three Excello Legends, alongside Earl Gaines and Roscoe Shelton. The photo below shows Clifford at the Ponderosa Stomp in 2011. Another great loss. RIP to both.