Friday, May 26, 2006
Desmond Dekker - Reggae pioneer in the UK
Desmond Dekker, who has died, was very much a pioneer of reggae music in this country. With the Aces, he got to number one with the "Israelites" in March 1969. Up until then, it is hard to think of any other reggae music in the charts here. The Equals with Eddy Grant and "Baby Come Back" (Number one in 1968) couldn't really be described as reggae. I'm struggling to think of any other reggae song which hit the charts before Desmond Dekker and the Aces. Perhaps someone can remind me. The Maytals didn't have their first hit in the UK until 1970. Bob Marley, John Holt, Dennis Brown, Rupie Edwards et al hit the charts in the few years after the "Israelites".And reggae was quite a new genre to the UK in 1969. So, Desmond Dekker's achievement of breaking through shouldn't be underestimated. It is sad that he has died at the relatively young age, these days, of 64.You can see him singing the "Israelites" here ... the BBC report of his death is here and an obituary is here.