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UNSUNG: THE ROOTS RADICS BAND!

By Howard Campbell—–

In commemoration of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of Independence from Britain, the Jamaica Observer’s Entertainment section recognises 50 persons who made significant, yet unheralded, contributions to the country’s culture. This week we feature the Roots Radics Band.

ROOTS-REGGAE was still the music of choice when bass player Errol ‘Flabba’ Holt formed the Roots Radics band in 1978.

While Holt and his colleagues had an appreciation for the roots beat, made famous by artists like Bob Marley and Burning Spear, they also had a feel for the dancehall sound that was bursting out of Kingston’s ghettos.

 

Holt led a talented line-up that included (at various stages) guitarists Noel ‘Sowell’ Davy, Eric ‘Bingy Bunny’ Lamont, Dwight Pinkney and Steve Golding, drummer Lincoln ‘Style’ Scott, keyboardist Wycliffe ‘Steely’ Johnson and saxophonist Headley Bennett.

The Radics played on some of the biggest reggae hits of the late 1970s to the mid-1990s. Many of those songs were recorded at Channel One for producer Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes.

These included Shine Eye Girl and Looking My Love by Barrington Levy — then a teenaged singer from Clarendon.

During the 1980s, the band backed some of the biggest names in dancehall/reggae. Among them Gregory Isaacs (Night Nurse, My Only Lover) and Bunny Wailer (Ballroom Floor, Cool Runnings and Rock ‘N’ Groove).

The Roots Radics Band in 1981

Despite losing Lamont to cancer and Johnson (became part of the hit-making production team Steely and Clevie) Roots Radics remained a force in the 1990s. They were the recording and touring band for Israel Vibration, one of the hottest reggae acts of the decade.

The Radics are still around, touring the world with ‘Israel’ and recording dub music for the European market.

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