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Lincoln traces Ambassador music role to England

Published:Tuesday | March 2, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Junior Lincoln - File

Junior Lincoln lived in Trench Town and later left for England, maintaining close ties with the music industry on both sides of the ocean, after organising dances when he was a mere 12-years-old.

He said he was once asked what was the most important thing that developed Jamaican music, and he replied, "those working class people who came into the shop and opened their wage packet and buy records".

They were in England and keeping connected to Jamaica through music, and Lincoln traces the supply line from the end, back to the source of creativity. He said that with singers entering the Vere Johns Opportunity Hour at the Ambassador Theatre, sound system owners, Arthur 'Duke' Reid and Clement 'Sir Coxsone' Dodd would come scouting talent and take them to Stanley Motta's to record. There they would record songs in the R&B vein which Jamaicans loved, that supply from the US, having slowed as rock and roll took over, playing the one-off records exclusively on their sound systems.

Speading the music

"When it play and play, and become popular in the dancehall, the juke box people would want a copy," he said. At the same time, the sound system owners would have exhausted the record's exclusive value, and were willing to not only make and sell copies to the juke box operators, but also provide the song to owners of smaller sound systems with whom they were friendly.

Then, with Jamaicans of the Windrush generation finding employment in post World War II England, and wanting their music from home, there was a demand overseas that the producers needed to supply the Jamaicans holding basement parties with simple gramophones. But the people who attended the parties also wanted their own copies. They went to record shops, Lincoln said, and asked for the record, giving the shop owner the name and sometimes address of the producer.

And so the trade started, Lincoln said, that in turn lead to further development of the infrastructure in Jamaica, as "that money allowed Coxsone and Duke to open their own studios".

- Mel Cooke

'... what was the most important thing that developed Jamaican music and he replied "those working class people who ... buy records".'