Wed | Dec 12, 2018

The Heptones rebirth - Getting ready for European tour

Published:Wednesday | May 30, 2018 | 12:00 AMRoy Black/Gleaner Writer
The foundation members of the Heptones.
The Heptones

The Heptones which came together in Trench Town during the early 1960, are preparing for a massive European tour from mid-June to October this year.

The three-part harmony group epitomised the rocksteady beat of the mid-late-1960s. They were one of several such groups that dominated that period of Jamaican music, when groups were the order of the day. Other similar, notable groups of that period were The Melodians, The Techniques, The Wailers, The Maytals, The Jamaicans, and The Paragons. The lead vocalists of these various groups all went on to have successful solo careers. They included Brent Dowe, Pat Kelly, Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Frederick 'Toots' Hibbert and John Holt.

By 1974, all the groups, except The Heptones, were disbanded and were never re-formed. The Heptones managed to keep their name alive, and remain active mainly through the efforts of foundation member Earl Morgan. Recruiting new members Robert Dacres and Carlton Scarlett to replace Leroy Sibbles who went solo, and Barrington Llewelyn, who died in 2011, the group has been making a remarkable comeback, mainly through a series of overseas tours.




Two tours, back to back from June to November last year, were enough to re-establish their reputation and rekindle memories of the 1960s when they rocked dancehalls and dominated the charts. In June 2017, they were off to the Reggae Jam Festival, which took them to Belgium, Germany and Spain. The tour, which lasted seven weeks, saw them entering the recording studios to do collaborations with Patchango and The Six Nations Band, The Meinona group and producer K'nute David.

They were back home by the middle of August, but by November 20 they were off again to the Skamouth Festival (November 23-27) in England. Their performance earned them an award in recognition of their efforts, and to honour their excellent music and presence across the decades. While on tour, they were again drawn into studios by Blessed Morning Productions to do the album Heptones In London, and the single Why Can't We for Stingway productions. According to Earl Morgan, the tour will take the group to Germany The Czech Republic, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom.

The new Heptones most recent album is Musicologist, done for the 'Trench Town Records' imprint last December at Yardback Digital Studios, with production duties by Earl 'Heptones' Morgan. When quizzed about who has now assumed the lead vocal role, now that Sibbles is no longer a member, Morgan was resolute in his answer: "All of us sing lead and all of us do harmony, depending on the song."