Reggae music History began with Jazz. As Jazz swept across the globe with the help of radio broadcasts and records in the 1940s, Jamaica was not immune to the fever and bands began to spring up everywhere to entertain the tourists. Names like trombonist Don Drummond, and sax player Tommy McCook began their careers.
In the 50s Jazz, Bebop become the new rage and Jazz orchestras began to fade in favor of a new youthful type of music, the rage spread all over the world.
Jamaica first started their own label of music in the 50s. When there was a lack of R&B releases, Edward Sega, the man who was to become the president of Jamaica, was first known as the founder of a company called WIRL, or West Indian Records Limited, this company began releasing the work of local artists.
Many more recorders began to follow suit, once the pressing plants were established on the island, the Jamaican recording industry was born.
By the 1960s ska was the first unique style of music developed by the Jamaicans, giving them their own identity. This was a welcome change for Jamaicans who were finding that their versions of R&B didn’t have the same appeal as the originals.
Prince Buster is believed to be the founding father of Ska, when he set up a record production and in one session created 13 songs for his new label Wild Bells.
Prince Buster had asked Derrick Morgan to come and sing, and the 13 songs all turned out to be hits. Over the course of the 13-song session, they found something new, by melding the rhythm of traditional mento music, and adding R&B, they changed Jamaican music history.
The crowds loved the new music, and the new music fitted in with the mood of the times, especially with Jamaica receiving independence.
The people were glad to embrace anything that was unique to Jamaica. Ska was made by the working class Jamaicans, and told their stories. The other record makers followed suit, in order to compete with buster.
Ska made a debut in America but was unsuccessful, but it did make an impact on Britain, after the war many Jamaicans had gone to work in Britain to help rebuild it, and brought along Ska.
Rude boys made their entrance into the working class Jamaican underground scene in Britain, and they were the generation that changed the music to suit them, the result, rock steady.
Rock Steady Music
The Jamaican people embraced Rock steady music, especially after one particular hot summer.
The slowed down form of Ska meant that people didn’t have to exert so much energy, so they could stay on the dance floor for longer. Rock steady also took off in Britain and was embraced by the skinheads of that time.
Reggae was the direct decent of rock steady. Many Jamaicans had not liked the name rock steady, and through a different version of an old song Fat Man, the artist Morgan changed the beat and he created a creep with an organ and rhythm guitar.
The music sounded like the word reggae, and that’s how the name took off. The first Reggae Album was called, “Do The Reggae” by the Maytals in 68. Reggae was faster than rock steady was, but more complex than Ska.
Reggae soon took off in a new direction with toasting; King Tubby had discovered that acetates or dub plates could be manipulated, by leaving the vocal track out a new version could be created.
With the help of a talented toaster called U-Roy, Tubby made the first toasting reggae record called Wake The Town. This style went to the top of the charts and would later go on to be one of the motivators of hip-hop.
With the release of the album, “The Harder They Came” gave reggae the global recognition they needed. Reggae now had the global attention it desired all that was needed now was an image. That’s when Bob Marley catapulted to stardom, and created the image needed for reggae.