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» BREAKING NEWS, Featured » LEGENDARY PRODUCER LESLIE KONG LEFT A FORMIDABLE MUSIC CATALOG!

LEGENDARY PRODUCER LESLIE KONG LEFT A FORMIDABLE MUSIC CATALOG!

By Howard Campbell—

 

WHEN Leslie Kong died from a heart attack at age 38 in August 1971, Jamaican music lost one of its most astute businessmen. The Chinese Jamaican had amassed a formidable catalog since his debut as a producer a decade earlier.

leslie kong

Kong was part of the strong Chinese influence on early reggae, others being Vincent Chin of Randy’s fame, Byron Lee of Dynamic Sounds, and impresario Warwick Lyn.

Though not as prolific as his contemporaries, Clement “Coxsone” Dodd and Arthur “Duke” Reid, Kong’s impact is just as significant. He was the first person to record Bob Marley; he produced groundbreaking songs by Jimmy Cliff, Toots and The Maytals and Desmond Dekker; and he was co-founder of Island Records.

Kong’s greatest contribution came through his Beverley’s Records, which was located in downtown Kingston.

Desmond Dekker

Desmond Dekker

Marley (as Bobby Martell) recorded his first song, Judge Not, for the label in 1962. Beverley’s also produced Miss Jamaica by a teenaged Jimmy Cliff; Forward March by Derrick Morgan; Israelites and (007) Shantytown from Dekker, and 54-46 and Pressure Drop by Toots And The Maytals.

Cliff, Morgan, Dekker and The Maytals all earned substantial followings in the United Kingdom due to Kong’s steady hand. He played a big role in the soundtrack to The Harder They Come, the groundbreaking 1972 film that starred Cliff as Ivan.

Jimmy Cliff

Jimmy Cliff

He produced its title song as well as You Can Get It If You Really Want and Wonderful World, all done by Cliff. Kong also produced the spiritual Rivers Of Babylon, done by The Melodians.

Sadly, Leslie Kong never lived to see the film’s release. He died one year before it came out in Europe and North America, making Cliff, his protégé, a superstar.

 

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