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Bunny Lee tells Reggae's journey in book, documentary

Published:Wednesday | April 29, 2015 | 4:00 AMRoy Black

As Jamaican dub and roots reggae makes a heavy resurgence and mark on the music scene, Bunny 'Striker' Lee, pioneer of ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub, dancehall, and record producer in his own right, is promoting his book and documentary.

They explain the journey of reggae from the beginning to the present time. And, perhaps there is no one more qualified than Lee to embark on such a project, having been closely connected with the artistes and musicians from the inception of the music, and having promoted and produced almost every early artiste of distinction in Jamaican popular music.

With perhaps the largest catalogue and clientele ever in the history of Jamaican popular music, Lee had in his fold luminaries such as Derrick Morgan, Stanger Cole, Dennis Brown, Delroy Wilson, Roy Shirley, Ken Boothe, Pat Kelly, Max Romeo, Slim Smith, John Holt, Sugar Minott, Alton Ellis, Johnny Clarke, Cornel Campbell, Bob Marley and the Wailers and U-Roy.

The book - Reggae going international 1967-76, The Bunny 'Striker' Lee Story, and the documentary, I am The Gorgon, Bunny 'Striker' Lee and The Roots of Reggae, have already received worldwide reviews. They have been dubbed as the reggae Bible, internationally, going deep into the roots of reggae and telling the stories of many unsung Jamaican music heroes.

In the book, Lee singles out record producer Leslie Kong as one such hero.

"Leslie Kong produced the most international hits, but no one talks about him now. He's one of the founding fathers of the business. He recorded Bob Marley first, you know," explained Striker.

From that fate-deciding moment in 1967, when Lee, the self-acclaimed Gorgon, recorded his first production by Lloyd and the Grovers, titled, Do it to me Baby, there ensued an endless flow of hits that cemented his position as one of the top record producers in the land.

 

archiving music history

 

In the past, there have been those who wrote the history of Jamaican popular music, based on what they were told by others. Now here comes a man, who, throughout a four-decade period, lived with the artistes and was an ever-present figure at recording sessions, to tell the story as he saw it.

The book, by Noel Hawks and Jah Floyd, introduces the history of Jamaican music, peopled by larger-than-life characters, who have been included to archive the importance of the music's development. It is an interesting tale of how reggae went international and, along with the documentary, are valuable assets to reggae's history and Jamaican culture.

The book also brings to light Lee's creativity of new sounds, like the development of flyers, which is an emphasis on the drummer's use of cymbals.

A release from the Bunny Lee syndicate, stated, "The Gorgon played an essential part in starting King Tubby's career and also contributed to Tubby's pioneering of the dub sound.

"In 1968, Lee took his passion to England and help start Pama Brothers and Trojan Records, which he licensed his productions to." The book and the film, it stated, "serve as resource that is in high demand at universities, colleges, community libraries and reggae festivals in Europe, Asia, the United States and South America. A book/DVD tour was completed in December, with plans to penetrate Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean."

Lee was awarded the Order of Distinction in the rank of officer, by the Jamaican Government in 2008, for more than 40 years of dedicated service in the music industry.