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Story of the Song | 'Movie Star' an independence hit for Dunkley

Published:Thursday | May 10, 2018 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Errol Dunkley
Errol Dunkley

The 1971 Movie Star marked a move into independence for singer Errol Dunkley after recording for Prince Buster and Joe Gibbs, among other producers. Like many performers, Dunkley was dissatisfied with the returns, and he partnered with a talented mind. "That is when me and Gregory (Isaacs) team up and start the African Museum label. We never like how the producers a treat us ... . We decide to set up our own distribution," Dunkley said.

Movie Star was the African Museum's first release, written and arranged by Jackie Mittoo, who also played keyboards on the recording session at Randy's, North Parade, Kingston. Dunkley gives The Sunday Gleaner a sample of a man's song of commitment to a woman who has struggled with him:

"You may not be a movie star

You may not drive a big fast car

But I love you in every way

I love you every day

I don't know why, oh why

The dress you wear

May be too tight

And folks may say

They don't look right

But I don't care about their view

I'll keep on loving you"

He was not the only singer to record Movie Star as there was also a cut by Delroy Wilson. Dunkley described it as a common occurrence for them to end up doing the same song, with Dennis Brown involved at times as well. "Then, we were the young boys," Dunkley said. Wilson died in 1995 and Brown in 1999.


A different name for each producer


The band formed around Mittoo was named the African Star All Stars. Dunkley laughs as he says that the set of musicians had a different name for each producer they worked with. So for Lee Perry, they were The Upsetters, and for Bunny Lee, they were The Aggrovators. There was another singer in the studio as well: the man with whom Dunkley shares a star on the sidewalk close to the 32 Pink Lane address, where he was born in an unplanned home delivery. It is Stranger Cole. Dunkley says that it is he who sings the deep "I don't know why".

Movie Star has lasted. Dunkley said that at the time of recording, he did not predict that it would be a hit. "The music thing, you cyaan predict it. Sometimes you do a song and say it mus' hit. And the one you don't think of, is it become a hit." One thing Dunkley was sure of was that he would be in charge of his affairs, and he encouraged Wilson and Brown to do the same. The latter eventually formed his Yvonne Special label.

Movie Star was recorded by singer Wayne Wonder and deejay Buju Banton for Penthouse Records in the early 1990s, and Dunkley ended up recording the song with Buju, though on dubplates for sound systems, including Mighty Crown. "A me dem voice," Dunkley said.