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Stabroek News

Renowned reggae icon Clancy Eccles is dead
published: Monday | July 4, 2005

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer


Eccles in September 2001.

CLANCY ECCLES, the influential grass roots reggae producer who helped Michael Manley and the People's National Party (PNP) surge to power in 1972, has died.

Eccles, 64, passed away at the Spanish Town Hospital last Thursday. His son, Clancy Eccles Jr., said his father had been in a coma for five days.

He had been ailing since suffering a stroke, his third, in May.

Born in Richmond, St. Mary, Eccles started his career as a singer in the late 1950s, recording for producer Clement Dodd's Studio One. He had a minor hit with River Jordan but left Dodd's camp to work with another Studio One protégé, Lee 'Scratch' Perry.

He branched out into producing in the mid-1960s, working with acts like the Trinidadian-born singer, Lord Creator. One of his biggest songs with Lord Creator was the uptempo Kingston Town, which was covered in the 1990s by British group, UB40.

"Clancy was definitely one of the best second-tier producers that cemented the foundation that was set by Duke Reid and 'Coxsone'," said sound system operator and musicologist, Winston Blake.

DABBLED IN POLITICS

Eccles also dabbled in politics. In the late 1960s, as Jamaican youth became disenchanted with the conservative policies of The Jamaica Laour Party government led by Prime Minister Hugh Shearer, Eccles was among those longing for a change in the country's leadership.

In 1972, as his reputation as a producer was growing, the People's National Party capitalised on his ties to the grass roots by recruiting Eccles to organise a musical bandwagon to spur their campaign for elections that year. The troupe included Delroy Wilson and the Inner Circle band and is largely credited with boosting the 'common man' image of Manley, the PNP's prime ministerial candidate.

Eccles was again a trump card for the PNP four years later. He produced the nationalistic song, My Leader Born Ya, by Neville Struggle Martin, a little-known singer from St. James. Recorded at Channel One in Kingston, the catchy number paid homage to Manley's socialist programmes and was the theme song for the PNP's winning campaign in 1976.

Although Eccles continued to produce songs for his Clandisc label, ill health limited his studio output. The last song he produced, Portland Town, was by his son Clancy Jr. five years ago but was never released.

Clancy Eccles Sr. is survived by 13 children.

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