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Syd Bucknor dies in London

Published:Thursday | May 13, 2010 | 5:00 AM

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Norman 'Syd' Bucknor, the engineer/producer who worked with some of the biggest names in Jamaican popular music, has died. The Roots Archives website reported that Bucknor, who had cancer, died May 9 at St Charles Hospital in London, England.

Bucknor had lived in Britain for more than 30 years and established himself as a leading engineer in that country's reggae scene. His best work was done in Jamaica at producer Clement Dodd's Studio One and at Dynamic Sounds, where he went after leaving the former. Singer Barry Biggs was one of the leading acts at Dynamic Sounds in the 1970s and worked for several years with Bucknor.

"He was a great engineer, paid a lot of attention to sound and sound quality," said Biggs.

Bucknor worked with the cream of Studio One acts, such as Alton Ellis, but was also an engineer for hit songs by Hopeton Lewis, Clancy Eccles, Augustus Pablo, Max Romeo and Derrick Harriott.

Bucknor was also the first engineer employed by the Hoo-Kim brothers when they opened their Channel One studio in 1972. He left after only one year to work with Byron Lee at Dynamic.

Greatest achievement

One of Bucknor's greatest achievements as an engineer was his work on Natty Dread, the 1974 breakthrough album by Bob Marley and the Wailers.

While at Dynamic, he also played a major role in the production of The Slickers' hit song, Johnny Too Bad.

Bucknor immigrated to Britain in the 1970s when reggae was taking off there, thanks to Marley and a slate of roots-reggae artistes. He was a regular at Island Records' Basing Street Studio and the Chalk Farm Studio, both in London.

Bucknor was among a celebrated group of engineers who worked in Kingston's recording studios throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Others included Errol Brown, Errol Thompson, Karl Pitterson and Sylvan Morris.

In March 2009, Bucknor and Morris were honoured by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association for their contribution to Jamaican music.