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Sunday Scoops Presents Tony Tuff (Dancehall Pioneer)

Updated: May 5

Reggae and Dancehall singer Winston Anthony Morris, better known as Tony Tuff, died on Saturday (April 20). He was 69. Tony Tuff is best known for the songs “Girl I’ve Got To Get You” and “Come Fe Mash It” started his music career in 1969 as a member of The African Brothers, a group formed by Derrick “Bubbles” Howard, who extended the invitation to Tony Tuff and Lincoln “Sugar” Minott to join the group. The group’s early influences included The Abyssinians, The Heptones, and The Gaylads. They drew on the name The African Brothers as this was a reference to their African heritage. Morris was initially the main songwriter, being the most experienced member of the group, with Minott and Howard contributing harmony vocals.

The African Brothers

According to Sugar Minott, he met Tony Tuff on Delamere Avenue at a big yard where they used to gather and bun lickle herb and reason. Tony Tuff was always playing a guitar and had gained much experience singing with Bop and the Beltones. He also connected with Derrick Howard who had been from the country, and he invited him to join the group. The group entered the Festival Song competition at Ward Theatre with a song written by Tony Tuff but failed to make it past the second round. They recorded for ‘One Foot Jimmy’ for whom they sang “Lead Us Father” on their Ital label set up for them by Micron Music. They also recorded for Rupie Edwards for whom they did a couple of songs such as Mysterious Nature and Party Night. For Clive Chin at Randy’s Records, they did “Hold Tight”, and for Duke Thelwell, they did “Torturing.” They were never paid for their effort with Thelwell even though the song made an impact.

Recording Output

The African Brothers also recorded for Clement "Coxsone" Dodd doing the song "No Cup No Broke", for Winston Blake on the Merritone label, Duke Thelwell "Party Night", and Mike Johnson and Ronnie Burke at Micron Music. They followed these with self-productions, including "Torturing", "Want Some Freedom", and "Practice What You Preach", several of these being released on their own Ital label. The group however faced much pushback as according to Sugar Minott, Derrick who led the group had a fair number of difficulties as Derrick could not lead. Tony Tuff took over the lead role in the group, getting the group better results. Apart from that, Merritone did not like the group’s Rasta music, as most other artistes were trying to sound like the Stylistics or some other foreign group.

African Brothers Split-up

The African Brothers split up in the mid-1970s with Derrick Howard deciding to focus on becoming a producer while both Minott and Tony Tuff pursued solo recording careers. Tuff pursued other work outside music until he returned as a solo artist in the late 1970s, with the album Tony Tuff Meets Errol Schorder, split with Errol Scorcher, and self-productions including the "I'm So Glad" single on his own Winston label. He worked with Yabby You on the Tony Tuff album in 1980 and worked with Minott again on the 1981 album Presenting Mr. Tuff and released on Sugar Minott's Black Roots label.

Solo Recording Career

Tony Tuff worked on several sound systems in the late 1970s and 1980s, including Lees Unlimited and Henry "Junjo" Lawes' Volcano system. It was Junjo Lawes who produced several successful singles by Tuff including "Water Pumpee", and "Mix Me Down", as well as producing his 1983 album Come Fe Mash It. Tuff continued to be active during the 1980s but was his productivity fell considerably throughout the 1990s. He returned in 2000, and recorded several albums in the new millennium, including "How Long", recorded with ace British/Jamaican dub master Jah Shaka. The 2000s also brought a brief reunion between Tony Tuff and Sugar Minott, who re-formed the African Brothers for 2004's Mysterious Nature album. Tuff also enjoyed an expanded touring schedule in the early part of the decade, doing multiple stops in Europe, Canada, and the United States. Winston Anthony Morris, aka Tony Tuff, died on April 20, 2024; he was 69 years of age. Check out our Sunday Scoops program on Tony Tuff here :


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