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» BREAKING NEWS, GUEST RUNDOWNS » VETERAN GUITARIST, EARL “CHINNA” SMITH, HAS STRUMMED HIS WAY ON MANY REGGAE CLASSICS!

VETERAN GUITARIST, EARL “CHINNA” SMITH, HAS STRUMMED HIS WAY ON MANY REGGAE CLASSICS!

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL—

 Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith with his 1968 Telecaster guitar.Photo: Joseph Wellington—

Today marks 35 years since the death of reggae legend Bob Marley. The Jamaica Observer ’s entertainment section looks at aspects of his legacy.

EARL ‘Chinna’ Smith cradles his well-worn 1968 Telecaster guitar as a doting mother would her newborn child.

Smith, 60, refers to the cherished instrument as ‘the reggae guitar of the world’, given the countless hit songs he has played on.

 Rastaman Vibration:albumcover

Among its biggest gigs were the 1975 recording sessions for Rastaman Vibration, Bob Marley and The Wailers’ album that was released the following year by Island Records.That set was Marley’s third for Island Records. It is considered by many critics and fans as his best work.

Smith was one of two guitarists in the Soul Syndicate Band at the time he was recruited by Marley for the sessions at Harry J’s and Joe Gibbs’ studios in Kingston.

Dennis Brown

Dennis Brown

He played the Telecaster on the album’s title track, Rat Race and Want More. According to Smith, recording with Marley in 1975 was “a mad thing” and one of the highlights of his career. “It was a spiritual movement. Him was a man who tek him thing serious…eat right, excercise…it wasn’t a joke thing,” said Smith.

He bought the Telecaster at Music Mart in Kingston in 1972. The following year he used it on songs like Dennis Brown’s No More Will I Roam.

It can also be heard on Burning Spear’s seminal 1975 album Marcus Garvey.

MarcusGarvey:album cover

Smith told the Jamaica Observer that he only plays the guitar on special occasions. The last time he used it on stage was for the December 1999 One Love: Bob Marley All-Star Tribute concert in Oracabessa, St Mary.

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