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B.B Seaton 1944-2024

Updated: Mar 20


One of the most endearing personalities to have graced the Jamaican music scene, Harris Lloyd Seaton aka B.B Seaton, fell silent on March 4, 2024, in London, England at the age of 79. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica on September 3, 1944, to Ismay Sterling, a stay-at-home mother, and George Seaton, who made a living as an auto-mechanic.  Bibby as he was affectionately called, was the youngest of three sons with his mother. His father would go on to have five additional children with two other women after splitting with his mother in the mid-1950s.

Seaton's Early Years and Influences He recalled growing up in the Rollington Town area of Kingston, in a modest home environment where his father owned a motor car and had a record collection that included Calypso and Mento 78 rpm recordings by the likes of Lord Flea and Count Lasher.  It was in the late 1950s that Bibby took a liking to the singer Owen Gray and decided that he wanted to be a singer just like him. His interest in singing grew even more when he became aware of the likes of Tony Gregory, Jackie Edwards, Laurel Aitken, Lascelles Perkins, Simms and Robinson, The Blues Busters, and Higgs and Wilson. When his father acquired a house in Vineyard Town in Kingston, the move brought Bibby in contact with Boris Gardner, who was at the time setting up a group called The Rhythm Aces, comprised of Boris, Richard Ace, Delano Stewart, and Dennis Moss. The group’s repertoire was mainly R&B music in the styles of The Four Tops, The Temptations and The Impressions.

Kicking off his Recording Career Although not being a member of the group, Bibby would show up daily at Boris’ house to watch them rehearse. On occasions when one or two members of the group failed to show, Boris would pull in Bibby as a ‘stand-in.’ Although he did not exactly make it as a member of the Rhythm Aces, the connection brought him into contact with Clement Dodd at a studio recording session at Federal Recording Studio in the early 1960s. In one of these ‘Sing What You Have’ sessions, Bibby did a song he had written entitled “Tell Me”, which started BB Seaton’s recording career. Songwriter Seaton

Seaton’s next recording was a tune called “Only You,” a song he had written for a girl named Patricia Campbell, who Seaton claimed he was in love with. The impassive reaction from the people in the studio during the session made him despondent. However, a few days later, he ran into King Stitt who was a selector for Coxsone’s Downbeat sound system. Stitt told Bibby that he had played the tune at a dance over the weekend and that the crowd went wild. He had to replay the song multiple times. Seaton in disbelief, accompanied Stitt to his next outing at Foresters Hall on Wildman Street where he was blown away by the crowd-response to his song. Thus began Seaton’s love affair with writing songs. He wrote “Joybells for Independence” in 1962. The success of the song saw himself and Delano Stewart penning “Power” for Coxsone, a song written for a Clash between Coxsone’s Downbeat and Duke Reid’s Trojan Sounds. As the Ska era opened up, Seaton was kept busy writing songs for Coxsone’s child prodigy Delroy Wilson including “Spit in the Sky.”

Entrenching the Gaylads It was during this period that Seaton said he introduced Coxsone to Jackie Mittoo. According to him, Coxsone had a recording session at Federal and the pianist Cecil Lloyd failed to show. He told Coxsone not to worry and sent out a call to Mittoo, who he had described as a genius with the piano keyboard. Mittoo would grow into a powerhouse at Studio One, especially after Coxsone acquired the former nightclub property at 13 Brentford Road and converted this into a recording studio. By then Bibby had established his group which he named “The Gaylads” recording updated Mento Songs for Coxsone such as “Gal And Bwoy”, “Chi-Chi Bud”, and “Brown Skin Gal” with new Ska arrangements.

Seaton would briefly experiment with a new band he started called “Bibby and the Astronauts” which had a full rhythm section and functioned as a dance band which played some of the clubs in Kingston. Although short-lived, the band recorded four singles “Rub It Down”, “Church Bells”, “I Don’t Need Your Love”, and “Wicked Men” one of the first songs to address serious social issues like crime and police brutality. Groundbreaking Royalty set-up The Gaylads nevertheless continued to record for Coxsone as well as for Justin Yapp for whom they did “Sweet Dreams” , “No More Will I Wonder”, and “Please Beverley.” Their big break came when Seaton penned “Lady With The Red Dress On” and “You Should Never Do That” a song that Seaton claims was key in transitioning from Ska to Rock Steady. The latter was the first song which did not feature a horn solo. Coxsone initially released both songs together, eventually separating both as they each generated significant excitement. Both songs were also responsible for another milestone as Seaton and the Gaylads negotiated Royalties from Coxsone rather than the usual ‘one-off' £7.10 shillings which Seaton thought was completely unjust. He was among the first Jamaican artistes to register their work with the Performing Rights Society (PRS) and received his first royalty payment of £420.00, an unprecedented victory for a Jamaican artiste in 1967. They used the proceeds to purchase equipment that outfitted the Gaylads as a band and as backing musicians at studio One, even though as a Trio, they continued to work with the inhouse band such as the Soul Vendors. Gaylads Hits The Gaylads would chalk up a plethora of hits including "No Good Girl", "Chipmunk Ska", "Stop Making Love Beside Me", "Love Me With All Your Heart", "Red Rose", "You'll Never Leave Him", “Africa” followed including two albums “Soul Beat” and “Gaylads Sing Folks”. At West Indies Records they produced tracks like, "Joy In The Morning", and "She Want It." At Tip Top Records, "Hard To Confess". "Over The Rainbows End", "I Need Your Loving", “ABC Rocksteady”, Beverley's Records, "My Jamaican Girl", “There's A Fire", "Soul Sister", "Fire & Rain”, "We Three Kings" Seaton's Solo Career

After ten years of working with companies in Jamaica like Studio One, Tip Top Records, Beverley’s Records and Treasure Isle Records as either A & R, Producer, Writer, Musician and Backing Vocalist, B.B. decided to go solo. In 1972 he recorded his first solo single “Accept My Apology” which was an instant hit and there was no turning back from then on. His version of Bill Withers “Lean On Me”, Persuaders, “Thin Line Between Love & Hate”, “Rainbow Love”, “One Thing Leads To Another”, "God Bless Our Love”, “Can’t Hide The Feeling”, “Sweet Caroline”, “All The Best”, “Miss My Schooldays” and “My Jamaican Girl” “Everyday People”, “Born Free”, were also hits.  Seaton's Album Roster

B.B has amassed fifteen albums to his credit, including “Dancing Shoe” (Virgin), “Thin Line Between Love & Hate” (Trojan), “Colour Is Not The Answer” (Jama), “I’m Aware Of Love”, “B.B Seaton Sings The Gaylads”, “ Wish Me Luck”, “Just One Moment”, “B.B Seaton Greatest Hits”, “In Control”, on his own (Soul Beat Label), “Everyday People” (Creole), “Pleasure And Pain” (Studio One), “Reggae Country Classics", "Rootically Yours", "Reggae Land" and his latest "Unbeaten". Seaton Songwriting Credits

As a songwriter, B.B has also written songs for top Jamaican and English artists like Ken Boothe, Marcia Griffiths, Joy White, Merlyn Brooks, Jennifer Laura, Mike Brooks, Dennis Brown, Delroy Wilson, The Chosen Few, Home T 4, Freddie Mc Gregor, Aswad, UB40, Beats International, Jimmy London, The Melodians, The Uniques, Saint & Campbell, Busty Brown, Maxi Priest, Judy Boucher, The Inner Circle, Winston Francis, Denzil Dennis, AJ Franklyn , Earl Sixteen and Ruddy Thomas. A&R Credits

As A & R at Studio One, Tip Top Records and Beverley’s Records, he auditioned and passed artists like The Heptones, The Melodians, Kingstonians, Lloyd Parks (as The Termites), Fredlocks (as the Lyrics), Dudley Sibbles in addition to introducing Jackie Mittoo to the Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd at Studio One.

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