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Duke Reid
Duke Reid

Between 1959 and 1962 Duke Reid’s recording output was buffeted by the likes of Derrick Morgan and The Jiving Juniors with Derrick Harriott who did a tune called Lollipop Girl . During that time however, the R&B-styled shuffle grooves of the late 1950s were giving way to the syncopated Ska sound. At the same time, records (initially thought of as the exclusive property of the sound system they were cut for, became increasingly profitable once they were offered for sale to the general public. Reid, who had previously approached records as a secondary enterprise, recognized this and shifted his focus to make them his top priority. Reid initially resisted the Ska as it overtook the R&B and Shuffle beats and as a result minimized the gains that Treasure Isle made from Ska, which became the preserve of Coxsone at Studio One. From 1962-1965, Reid's Treasure Isle label issued a number of Ska hits by the likes of The Skatellites, Stranger ColeWhen you call My NameJustin Hinds & the Dominoes with “Carry Go Bring Come,” the Techniques among others.


By 1966 however, the beat of the music had begun to slow down. Alton Ellis shifted to Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle outfit and by 1967 with Tommy McCook and the Supersonics as the labels backing band Duke Reid produced a string of hits including “Dance Crasher” and the genre’s signature tune “Rock Steady.” Where Dodd’s Studio One held a stranglehold on the “Ska” beat, Duke Reid with his Treasure Isle and Trojan (export) labels was the “Master” at Rock-Steady. Reid had artistes the likes of The Paragons with hits such as “On the Beach” and “Wear You to the Ball” , Phyllis DillonDon’t Touch my Tomato”, The Melodians with hits like “You Have Caught Me” and “Expo 67The Ethiopians, The Jamaicans, Justin Hines and the Dominoes among a host of others. As Rock-Steady faded and Rastafarian Roots Reggae began to take over, Reid found himself in a quandary: the new music wasn't at all to his taste, particularly the social-protest lyrics, and that stance increasingly made him seem part of a musical old guard whose time had passed. Fate would intervene in the Duke’s fortunes in the form of Ewart Beckford known on the Sound system circuit as U-Roy noted for his stylized toasting on the instrumental sides of record selections. Introduced to the Duke by John Holt of the Paragons fame in 1970, Reid set about recording U-Roy on the instrumentals of several hit Rock-Steady tunes. The results were wildly popular and at one point, four of U-Roy’s early singles hit the Jamaican Top Five all at once. Reid continued to record U-Roy through the early '70s, plundering his substantial back catalog for material, and also released records by other early DJs, most notably Dennis Alcapone. Unfortunately, Reid fell seriously ill in 1974; after suffering for the better part of a year, he passed away from cancer in 1975.

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