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Golden Promotions, irreplaceable memories

Published:Friday | November 26, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

Horseman was already into show promotion when singer Ken Boothe suggested that he start a vintage Jamaican music concert series. With his Golden Promotions established two years earlier, he had done Fire 2000 and, even before the show promotion outfit was formalised, had staged 'Never Deh a Sting' with Cham, Lady Saw, Bounty Killer and Scare Dem Crew in Portmore, St Catherine.

But the idea of a vintage concert struck Horseman and he mulled it over at home. Trying to find a name, Horseman said he saw a TV commercial for Toys 'R' Us. "Me start play with it - Vintage R Us, then I say Stars. Because all the artistes are stars," he said.

The first Stars R Us was held on October 18, 2002 at what has become, by far, its most popular venue, the Mas Camp Village on Oxford Road in New Kingston. Bucking the odds as with no other date available he held it on a Sunday, Horseman recalls "Everybody said it would not work." It did, with Ken Boothe, Johnnie Clarke, Admiral Bailey, Josey Wales, U-Roy, George Nooks, Professor Nuts and Brent Dowe on that first concert.

And more than 100 stagings of Stars R Us later, including in Montego Bay and Mandeville, the brand is continuing to work.

Isaacs is one of two performers on that first Stars R Us who has since passed on, the other being Brent Dowe. The next Stars R Us, on December 4 at Mas Camp, is subtitled 'Respect to Gregory'. Horseman points out that Isaacs did 23 stagings of Stars R Us, with Derrick Morgan holding the record at 27.

"It is out of respect to Gregory that we are doing this show. The next one was due January," Horseman said.

Morgan will also be on next Saturday's Stars R Us, along with Josey Wales, John Holt, Leroy Sibbles, Pat Kelly, Johnny Clarke, Nikki Dillon, George Nooks, Tinga Stewart and Carl Dawkins, with Mutabaruka spinning the tunes.

Formula for success

The line-up is filled with big names, but Horseman says his normal formula for a successful multi-artiste event is "you find three or four major acts, then you find some supporting acts. You might have some people who have not done a show in a long time."

"After such long experience you know exactly what people like," he said.

Horseman positions Golden Promotions and himself as part of a team in which "everybody knows their part. It is a team I work with from ever since. The same guy (OJ) do the stage, light and sound. The same people (Knightsman) do security and Lloyd Parkes is the backing band.

"My job is to book the venue and artiste, do the flyer and posters," he said.

In setting the entry fee for an event, Horseman says, "After you work out the cost of the artistes and the cost of the production you work out the price. We keep it reasonable, so people can come and we make some money. If anything, we take off some artistes."

Although he is now known mostly for Golden Promotions, Horseman has a long, varied involvement in music.

The connection goes back to Isaacs, in front of whose record store at Queens Theatre on Spanish Town Road Horseman - then a schoolboy - would dance to the songs coming from the speakers. After he did chores like packing up records, Isaacs would often give Horseman bus fare. Because of his dancing Isaacs dubbed him Mr Bojangles, which was the name Horseman would record his first song under in 1978.

It was the racing style commentary, Selassie I Cup, which Isaacs said could go on a rhythm but was actually recorded by Joe Gibbs.

He went on to deejay on Stur-Gav, record at Jammy's studio and work on Black Scorpio sound system with Sassafras and Shuka Shine. By then he was known as Horseman, as he took pictures at Caymanas Park.

There were the chart successes, notably Exterminator, but Ragamuffin a Deejay Fe De Year could not move Supercat's 1987 hit Boops for the top spot.

Horseman also became an artiste photographer, from there going on to do event posters.

With Golden Promotions, Horseman says the best Stars R Us was the Derrick and Patsy reunion in 2005. "Mas Camp full," Horseman said.

The Air Supply concerts at National Indoor Sports Centre and Cable and Wireless Golf Academy in 2008 mark the peak of international moments, with Fire 2000 at Mas Camp the dancehall highlight.

He has also done the popular 'Giants of the '80s' series, which has been staged at Market Place and Mas Camp in Kingston, Portland, and Ocho Rios, St Ann.