Cole makes smashing dance debut

Published: Sunday | May 3, 2009

Rough and Tough was first played by Strangejah Cole's brother, 'Cuttings', on Duke Reid's sound system at a dance in Forrester's Hall, downtown Kingston. On that night, Coxsone Dodd was playing at the nearby Jubilee Tile Gardens and Prince Buster was at Liberty Hall. Cole knew the song was going to be played and he was very eager.

"This was the first time I was going to hear myself on record. I was on North Street early when they were setting up, trying to hear my song. I was frustrated, because I did not hear my song up to 11 p.m., but he was using strategy. Then the dance started to pick up, girls were coming in and so on," Cole said.

"Then he put on Rough and Tough and as long as you and I (The Sunday Gleaner) talking it don't stop play," Cole said.

It figuratively 'mash up' Forrester's Hall and literally destroyed the other two sessions, as "the people leave the other dances and come to Jubilee Tile and tear down the green bush".

Christmas morning performance

His performance of Rough and Tough on the Christmas morning 1962 concert at the Ward Theatre sticks out in Cole's mind ("Oh my, it was overwhelming for me"), although he had performed it at the Independence celebrations in Denham Town, Coronation Market, and on Wellington Street, close to Chocomo Lawn.

He has performed Rough and Tough in many countries and Cole points out that he is getting more shows now than in 1962. "In the last five years, I have been to places that I have not been to in the last 30 years or so," he said. So Cole will be doing a jazz festival in London in July, after which he will be off to Japan where he had been about three years ago. And, he is continuing to make new music, with two discs slated for release soon. One is Lucky Dog, done along with his son, drummer Squiddley Cole, and the other is Riding High, produced by G Bravo out of Leggo Studio.