Prince Buster, “The King of Ska”

“Wash Wash” Live from The Sombrero Club in Jamaica (1965)–Watch Video on YouTube

Prince Buster was a pioneer of ska and rocksteady. Among his musical innovations were to have guitarists focus on the afterbeat (instead of the stronger downbeat) and to slow down the pace of tracks, a trait that would help define rocksteady. Dub has its roots in the marathon production sessions he oversaw.

Prince Buster was the stage name of Cecil Bustamente Campbell (May 24, 1938-September 8, 2016). A largely self-taught musician and producer (he began his career as a boxer,) he was a prolific recording artist and producer in the 1960s until reggae began to take over in popularity. His single “Al Capone,” was the first Jamaican Top 20 hit in Britan and would help lay the groundwork for a ska revival that came out of Britain in the 70s and 80s.

He was also influential in contributing to the sound system culture, a phenomenon in which trucks would bring DJs, turntables and speakers to the streets of Jamaica.

In honor of his contributions to Jamaican music, he was awarded The Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government in 2001.

“Judge Dread” on Spotify

Ab Tamboer, Drummer for Dutch Band Earth & Fire

“Weekend”–Video on YouTube

Ab Tamboer (November 8, 1950-August 26, 2016) was not the first drummer for Earth & Fire, but he was with the band in 1978 when it scored a #1 hit in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany with  “Weekend.” By this time, the group had veered in a more pop music direction, adjusting to new competition from disco, punk and new wave.

“Weekend” stayed on the National Hit Parade for seven weeks and sold 210,000 copies in the Netherlands.

Tamboer also played in the bands Het Goede Doel, Kayak, and was in the session band for the Dutch production of the musical Cats.

“Hou Van Mij” by Het Goede Doel on Spotify

Fred Hellerman, Last Surviving Member of The Weavers

“When The Saints Go Marching In”-Live, YouTube Video

Fred Hellerman was the guitarist and baritone voice of the Weavers, the folk revival band that formed in 1948. Hellerman (May 13, 1927-September 1, 2016) was credited with coming up with their name, borrowing it from a pro-labor play of the 19th century. Last year, another member of the Weavers, Ronnie Gilbert, also passed. You can read my post here.

The Weavers rose to national fame in the early 50s, propelled by their #2 hit rendition of the Hebrew folk song “Tzena, Tzena, Tzena.” Their active support of labor and civil rights movements put them on the wrong side of the House Committee of Un-American Activities, and they were blacklisted from TV shows and radio until the end of the McCarthy era. A celebrated Carnegie Hall concert in 1955 reignited their career.

Hellerman played a significant, if less known role, in folk music beyond the Weavers. He was producer of Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant album and was a credited session guitarist on Joan Baez’s debut album. He has many songwriting credits: perhaps his most lucrative is “I’m Just a Country Boy,” which he co-wrote for Harry Belafonte under the pseudonym Fred Brooks. Hellerman songs have been recorded by Don Williams, Tony Bennett, The Kingston Trio and Roberta Flack, to name a few.

“Sixteen Tons” The Weavers at Carnegie Hall” on Spotify

The Late Great Music Revue is on Facebook (link here) and on Twitter @LateGreatMusic