Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer
Black Uhuru: Puma Jones (left), Duckie Simpson (centre) and Michael Rose. - File
AFTER YEARS of standing in the shadows as harmony singer, Derrick 'Duckie' Simpson will be the lead vocalist on As The World Turns, the new Black Uhuru album, scheduled to be released in October.
Mario Lazarre of No Joke Entertainment, publicists for the roots-reggae group, said Simpson will also handle vocals on Uhuru's tour of Japan and Europe, which is expected to start in November.
"A lot of people don't know that Duckie can sing. This album will prove that he can do lead vocals," Lazarre told The Gleaner.
Michael Rose, who sang lead on most of the group's hit songs, will not be part of the jaunt. Rose left the Uhuru fold in 1985 due to a rift with Simpson, but returned five years ago, and has since toured Europe and Africa with him.
His absence from the upcoming tour, Lazarre stressed, is not because of any renewed conflict.
"Nothing like that, Michael is concentrating on his (solo) album," he said.
Simpson and No Joke Entertainment produced some of the songs on As The World Turns, which is Uhuru's first album since Dynasty, which was released by RAS Records in 2001.
Black Uhuru has featured several lead singers since Simpson started it in the Kingston community of Waterhouse in the late 1960s. Rose is the best known. He also co-wrote many of the trio's biggest hits including I Love King Selassie, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Shine Eye Gal, General Penitentiary and Plastic Smile.
Original members Garth Dennis and Don Carlos, Junior Reid and Andrew Bees, recorded and toured with Uhuru as lead singers after Rose left in 1985, shortly after Black Uhuru won the first Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album with Anthem.
Simpson, Carlos and Dennis were involved in a five-year legal battle over ownership of the Black Uhuru name. A Los Angeles court ruled in Simpson's favour in 1997.
Prior to the release of As The World Turns, Warner Bros released a DVD, Black Uhuru Live in London, featuring the classic line-up of Simpson, Rose and Puma Jones, the American vocalist who died in 1990.
Filmed at the Rainbow Theatre, the 1981 show has the drum and bass team of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare leading the band.
Sounds of solidarity
Love Crisis, produced by Lloyd 'King Jammy' James, was the first Black Uhuru album featuring Duckie Simpson and Michael Rose.
The group had a banner year in 1979 with the Sly and Robbie-produced Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Shine Eye Gal, General Penitentiary and Plastic Smile.
Junior Reid sang lead on two Uhuru hit songs: Fit You Haffe Fit in 1985 and The Great Train Robbery in 1986.
Don Carlos and Garth Dennis sang on Strongg, the 1996 album that was nominated for a Grammy Award.
After leaving Black Uhuru, Michael Rose had a relatively successful solo career with the American independent company, Heartbeat Records.