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Joe Gibbs Passes Away ::: 1943-2008

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Joe Gibbs Passes Away

Joe Gibbs the BIG BIG legendary reggae producer passed away recently at the age of sixty-five - expect quite a few tribute posts going out from the boogie shed over the next few weeks....

"It was confirmed last night that Jamaican music lost another of its most influential figures when Joe Gibbs passed at the University Hospital of the West Indies on Thursday night after suffering a heart attack.

Born in Montego Bay in 1943, Gibbs (real name Joel Gibson) first became involved in Jamaica’s music business around the close of 1966, after being spurred by the sales of records at his newly opened TV repair shop at 32 Beeston Street, Kingston. He had only recently returned from America, where he had qualified as an electronics engineer, an education that was to prove invaluable throughout his new career. Aided and encouraged by Bunny Lee, Gibbs launched his Amalgamated label, with the enigmatic Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry engineering the sessions. Success was immediately forthcoming with releases featuring a variety of performers, most notably Roy Shirley, Errol Dunkley, Stranger & Gladdy, the Versatiles and the Pioneers. His dramatic ascendancy to the upper echelons of the Jamaican music industry was soon recognised by the Island/Trojan organisation, which launched a UK version of his Amalgamated imprint in 1968. Later that same year, Perry left Gibbs‘ employ to launch his own Upsetter the producer swiftly finding an able replacement in Winston ‘Niney’ Holness, who for the next couple of years ensured the hits continued unabated.

In 1970, Gibbs finally made his mark internationally, with his production of ‘Love Of The Common People’ by Nicky Thomas, which peaked at #9 in the UK that summer. By this time, Gibbs had introduced three further labels, Shock, Jogib and Pressure Beat, with a British version of the latter also inaugurated by Trojan. The producer had also opened his New York Record Mart at 11 South Parade, Kingston and set up his own two track studio at 17 Burns Avenue in the Duhaney Park region of town, from where over the next few years he produced a number of superb singles, including further releases by the likes of Nicky Thomas, the Inspirations, Max Romeo the Heptones and Peter Tosh.

Around 1972, Gibbs moved his base of operations to 20 North Parade, Kingston and over the ensuing months recorded a variety of artistes, much of which he issued on his new Joe Gibbs Record Globe label. Among those who cut material for the producer during this period were Dennis Brown (whose first version of ‘Money In My Pocket’ was a sizable Jamaican hit that year), Delroy Wilson and Big Youth.

In 1975 he relocated once more, setting up a sixteen-track studio and pressing plant at 24 Retirement Crescent, Kingston 5, where he installed former Randy’s sound engineer, Errol Thompson at the controls. For the next few years, the hits came thick and fast for the self-proclaimed ‘Mighty Two’, with the likes of Sylford Walker, the Mighty Diamonds, Jacob Miller, Junior Byles, Glen Washington and veteran DJ, Prince Far I among those to have their works produced by Gibbs and Thompson.

The pair also began working with Culture, releasing a number of hit singles by the group, culminating on their highly acclaimed 1977 album, ‘Two Sevens Clash’ album. The same year, Gibbs issued Trinity‘s hugely popular ‘Three Piece Suit’, a recording that utilised the rhythm of Marcia Aitken’s version of Alton Ellis’ ‘I Am Still In Love’. The success of the DJ’s cut led to a whimsical follow-up by teenage schoolgirl duo, Althea Forest and Donna Reid: ‘Up Town Top Ranking’. Despite the song’s lyrics being almost nonsensical to those unfamiliar with Jamaican patois, it breached the UK charts towards the end of 1977 and early the following year, hit the number one spot.

Meanwhile, Gibbs had resumed working with Dennis Brown, their relationship lasting until the close of the decade and spawning a series of major hits, including the singer’s up-dated version of ‘Money In My Pocket’, which broke into the British charts in the spring of 1979, eventually peaking at #14 in the national listings.

An integral ingredient in Gibbs‘ success throughout this period was the musicianship provided by his regular studio band, the Professionals, which at various times included such luminaries as Lloyd Parks and Robbie Shakespeare (bass), Sly Dunbar (drums), Earl ’Chinna‘ Smith (guitar), Gladstone Anderson (keyboards), Ruddy Thomas and Issiah ’Sticky‘ Thompson (percussion), along with a horns section featuring Tommy McCook (tenor sax), Bobby Ellis (trumpet), Vincent Gordon (trombone) and Herman Marquis (alto sax). The exceptional standard of musicianship was perhaps most apparent on the seminal four ‘African Dub’ volumes, issued during the latter part of the seventies.

In 1980, Gibbs produced J.C. Lodge’s international hit, ‘Someone Loves You Honey’, but the failure to pay song-writing royalties to its writer, US Country star, Charley Pride, proved disastrous and following a costly lawsuit, the producer went out of business and relocated to Miami.

He finally returned to making music in 1993, when he rebuilt his studio at 24 Retirement Crescent, reuniting with Errol Thompson, while also employing former Pioneers’ singer/producer, Sydney ‘Luddy’ Crooks to help oversee sessions. A series of worthy singles ensued, with Alton Ellis, Gregory Isaacs, Eric Donaldson and Tanya Stephens among those to work with Gibbs during this period, although the producer was never able to recapture the glory days of the sixties and seventies.

Around this time, he also began reissuing his back catalogue on his son’s Miami-based Rocky One label, while also signing a new deal with Trojan, who promptly began releasing his material in earnest on a series of compilations, primarily focusing upon his Rocksteady and early Reggae works. Later, he set up Joe Gibbs franchises in France and Brazil and as time went on, slowly clawed back some of the huge losses made as a result of the Charley Pride case.

During his lifetime, Joe Gibbs produced some of the finest recordings to see issue in Jamaica. His role in the development of Reggae during the sixties and seventies was immense and his passing yet another terrible blow to an industry that in recent years has lost some of its most influential and inspiring figures."

Laurence Cane-Honeysett [Trojan Records]


joe gibbs - my best dub [mp3 here]

Big thanks to Lazy @ Blogger's Delight for this...