Thu | Jun 24, 2021

The Creator from a far away land

Published:Sunday | June 24, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Exactly 50 years ago, during the build-up to the 1962 Independence celebrations in Jamaica, a 26-year-old gentleman arrived in Jamaica, totally oblivious to what fortunes, misfortunes, and fame were awaiting him. He was actually passing through the island with a group of entertainers on a Caribbean tour, when he was intercepted by Vincent 'Randy' Chin at the Havana Night Club along Windward Road in Kingston. Chin asked the gentleman to compose a song about Jamaica's Independence, due on August 6, 1962.

Lord Creator, as the individual turned out to be, was taken aback, as he knew very little about Jamaica's Independence plans. Fortunately, however, the late Raymond Sharpe from The Gleaner, who was in Randy's company, had a Gleaner article on the topic.

Drawing information from it, Creator went about his task, completing it in half an hour. The result was one of the most informative and descriptive narratives in song about Jamaica's build-up to the attainment of Independence, in a calypso-flavoured recording titled Independent Jamaica.

Manley went up to England to seek for Independence

and although Busta was late he still attended the conference,

although from two different parties it was very good to see

how these two politicians were shaking hands when they gained victory.

Independence is good for young and the old, also for me and you,

Independence is good for the whole population including our children too

Recorded for Vincent Chin's Randy's Record label which later became VP Records and backed by the nucleus of the Jamaica Military Band, Independent Jamaica became the No.1 song in Jamaica that year, ahead of Behold by the Blues Busters and Forward March by Derrick Morgan. Creator followed up with Welcome Princess Margaret and Freedom Song, both connected with Independence.

born in trinidad

Creator was actually born Kenrick Patrick in San Fernando, Trinidad, on August 21, 1935 and began his entertainment career by singing in calypso tents in Trinidad alongside the likes of The Mighty Sparrow and Lord Kitchener.

A man of sacred persuasions, easy manner and humorous character, he wasn't totally happy with the name bestowed on him by an ardent fan who thought he was creative and duly shouted the name on his first public performance. The name stuck.

In an interview I did with Creator, he was serious in his retort, "Lord and Creator should be reserved for God Almighty".

Before coming to Jamaica, Creator recorded a number of songs in the 1950s with the Trinidad-based Fitz Vaughn-Bryan Orchestra, one of which, titled Evening News, became a big hit in the Caribbean.

His arrival in Jamaica on January 14, 1962 marked the turning point in his career. He immediately fell in love with the island, its music and its people, and decided to make Jamaica his home.

Added to this, Creator also built a family in Jamaica, strengthening his will to stay. Many whose origins lay outside Jamaica have made lasting impacts on our music and countless cultures and races have combined to make a unified whole.

Creator belongs to this set that includes other Trinidadians Lyn Taitt and Lord Laro, Cubans Roland Alphonso and Laurel Aitken, Barbadian Jackie Opel and Panamanian Carlos Malcolm.

Significant, sensational and seminal could best describe his contribution to Jamaican music, yet his earliest inclinations were ballad-oriented, which he claimed were influenced by people like Nat 'King' Cole, Billy Eckstine and his mother.

Chin was a little sceptical about this. Creator proved him wrong when he embarked on the enthralling and intensely romantic duet ballad We'll Be Lovers, in which he invited his partner Norma Frazer to:

Look through the window and you'll see what I see

two lovers walking just like we used to be

gone were the days when we were like they

but in our hearts they are memories to stay

Soon, the predominant ska beat that existed at the time lured Creator into recording a number of excellent ska songs for Randy's in 1963, backed by the inimitable Skatalites band, with perhaps his best-known pieces being Don't Stay Out Late and Man To Man, in which he urges his fans to "Listen and you'll hear them say flesh is deceiving in every way".

Creator recorded cuts for Byron Lee, before gracing Clement 'Coxson' Dodd's studios with his honey-toned voice. Possessing one of the best voices in early Jamaican music, he used it to great advantage on the Studio One hits - Unfaithful Baby, Rascal Boy, Evening News, Little Princess and Golden Love.

His career was then at its commercial peak and his popularity soared to unprecedented levels.

However, by 1968 Creator's career had taken a turn for the worse, triggering his removal to Montego Bay in search of greener pastures.

The greener pastures didn't turn out to be so green, however, and Creator struggled for several years, having to support a number of children.

Some respite came his way in 1984 when family members assisted his passage home. But more ill luck was to follow when Creator suffered a stroke and was hospitalised in the late 1980s. Then came the news of his life - the British reggae group, UB40 made a big hit out of his 1969 composition Kingston Town, and it generated enormous royalties for the writer.

Creator returned to Jamaica, the land he loved in 1990, a happy man and built a home in Montego Bay.

The recording Kingston Town, however, became the subject of controversy between Creator and the producer, Clancy Eccles who claimed ownership for the song.

Kingston Town was, in fact, a reggae remake by Creator of a 1963 ska recording with identical words titled Babylon, written and also performed by Creator for producer Randy Chin.

Lord Creator may perhaps be unique as a singer in the annals of early Jamaican music, having covered more genres than any other performer - from calypso to ska, rock steady and reggae.