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LYNN TAITT: THE “TRINI” WITH THE ROCK STEADY BEAT!

 

By Howard Campbell—

Lynn Taitt

Lynn Taitt

 

Students of Jamaican popular music usually point to rocksteady as the sound that keeps on giving. To this day, dancehall and pop artists sample its timeless bass lines and guitar riffs.

The man responsible for creating rocksteady was not Jamaican. He was Lynn Taitt from Trinidad and Tobago.

Taitt made his name as a prolific session musician during the 1960’s, playing on countless hit songs by Hopeton Lewis, Desmond Dekker, Johnny Nash, Alton Ellis, and The Melodians.

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It was while leader of The Jets that Taitt helped fashion a new beat. The song that transitioned ska to rocksteady was Take It Easy by Lewis, and it was recorded at Federal Records in 1965.

“When I went to Jamaica and started playing with Baba Brooks and those guys, everything was fast, but in Trinidad they had fast calypso and slow calypso,” Taitt said in a 2003 interview with the Jamaica Observer. “So that day I told Gladdy (keyboardist Gladstone Anderson) to slow the tempo and that’s how Take It Easy and rocksteady came about. Rocksteady is really slow ska.”

Lynn Taitt

Lynn Taitt

Born in the San Fernando region of Trinidad as Nerlin Taitt, he came to Jamaica in 1962 to play in a band celebrating Jamaica’s independence. The first hit song he played on was Chang Kai Shek, an instrumental by Brooks’s band that has driven numerous hits.

Taitt also recorded early on with The Skatalites, playing on several of their outstanding songs, including Guns of Navarone, Confucius and Gun Fever.

His signature riffs can also be heard on Nash’s Hold Me Tight, Alton Ellis’s Girl I’ve Got A Date, Desmond Dekker’s Israelites and 007 (Shantytown), The Melodians’ You Have Caught Me, and Keith and Tex’s Stop That Train.

On many of the sessions played Taitt, he was accompanied by The Jets. His band mates were Anderson, saxophonist Headley Bennett, guitarist Lynford Hux’Brown, organist Winston Wright, and bass player Brian Atkinson.

Lynn Taitt

Lynn Taitt

Nerlin “Lynn” Taitt, who was never recognized for his contribution to Jamaican music, died in January 2010 in Montreal, Canada, at age 75.

 

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