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Duke Reid

The event took place on a Monday night...but it started long before.

Coxsone was a much younger man than Trojan's Duke Reid, but his affinity for the music had solidified over the years. He loved Jazz and had made a name for himself, playing records on a home stereo system mounted in his mother's liquor store on the corner of Beeston Street and Love Lane. Charlie Parker, Dizzie Gillespie, Fats Navarro and Coleman Hawkins were among his favorites. Coxsone over time leveraged that experience and by the mid-1950s Coxsone had been successfully challenging the Mighty Trojan and came out on top despite the plethora of ruffians hired by Reid.

The secret lay in Coxsone's ability to find obscure tunes that he would often use to flatten his competitors. One such tune was "Later for Gator" by Miami based saxophonist Willis Jackson. Coxsone acquired a copy of the record from overseas, scraped the label and renamed the tune "Coxsone's Hop." To spin this tune in a sound clash was literally getting up in the opposing sound man's face and telling him "Guh a yuh Yaawd..." This, along with a raft of other foreign tunes, Coxsone laid out many a sound with this tune. Ultimately, he challenged the Mighty Trojan, who had secretly acquired this record along with more than a dozen other Coxsone Specials. A week before the clash, word had gotten out that Reid had acquired these tunes. The word reached Coxsone who sent Prince Buster to investigate. Buster came back with the news that Duke Reid had in fact acquired a copy of Gator's Tail (Coxsone's Hop). Coxsone indicated to Buster that he would not attend the Dance. Prince Buster advised though that it would be better to face it than to dodge as if he did not show up, that would be the end of the Coxsone Downbeat.

That Fateful Night

On the fateful Monday evening, Coxsone and Buster walked up King Street to Jubilee Gardens at around 7:00pm. The entrance to the venue was adorned with branches of green-bush which was intended to be used to sweep away Coxsone after his destruction The place was rammed as both men made their way to the bar. Coxsone bought two stouts for himself and Prince Buster. Just as the clock struck midnight, a group of men reached for the green-bush and began their sweeping motions the minute the selector dropped Gator Tail onto the turntable. On hearing the opening blasts of Willis Jackson's saxophone, Coxsone turned as white as a sheet. His eyes rolled over in his head and he fell onto the bar counter and slid to the ground. Prince Buster had to gather all his strength in order to raise him to his feet. Both sat there as the selector wheeled off tune after tune from Coxsone's once prized arsenal while Reid fired off salvos of rounds in the air from his personal firearm to the roar of the crowd. For more stories like this,

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