This interview was held on January 13, 1994, at Garnet’s Kingston home. The visit was as warm and memorable as the 27-year-old singer himself. Tragically, by year’s end, Garnet perished in a fire alongside his mother at his childhood home. I cherish my time spent with this humble, delightful, kind human being who possessed childlike joy and a smile that touched everyone he met. Rest in power, dear soul…your music, message and memory live on. ~M. Peggy Quattro
Garnet Silk – A Son of Ethiopia
By M. Peggy Quattro V12#2 1994 Words in double brackets [[ ]] signify updated 2020 material ~MPQ
The highly anticipated return of Garnet Silk to the performing stage was purposefully planned to coincide with the birthday celebration of his good friend, DJ Tony Rebel. On January 15, 1994, Rebel Salute was staged in the cool and lovely city of Mandeville, situated in their home parish of Manchester, Jamaica.
In July 1993, following his doctor’s orders, the popular singer/songwriter took a needed hiatus from his rigorous performing and recording schedule. The reason given: exhaustion. [more later in this interview]
The Early Days
Garnet Silk exploded on the Jamaican music scene in 1991 and soon became the most in-demand performer on the island. A steady stream of shows and performances, tours and recordings throughout ‘92 and most of ‘93 took its toll on the performer. To begin the new year, and a new era in his dazzling career, Garnet Silk appears rested and ready to resume his appointed rule as musical message giver.
Every song released by Silk in the last two years has attracted rave reviews and considerable airplay in Jamaica and abroad. His unique vocal styling and charismatic presentations have him marked by music industry personnel and fans alike as the “next Bob Marley.”
At Garnet’s Kingston Home
I recently had the pleasure of visiting and interviewing the serious yet mild-mannered Silk during rehearsals and preparation for his triumphant comeback performance at Rebel Salute. This interview is part of the comeback. Continue reading →
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry Talks Bob Marley, Dub, Reggae, Production
Berklee Online’s Pat Healy talks with 84-year-old Lee “Scratch” Perry about his one-of-a-kind legacy and career. This bizarre and winding interview is available in all its strangeness and entirety at Hypebot.com
Pat Healy: “As a music producer, he arguably invented reggae in the late 1960s and early 70s, and he inarguably invented dub in the mid-1970s at his famed Black Ark Studio in Jamaica. He was Bob Marley’s mentor, producing some of his first recordings. It’s possible he also invented sampling, using the sound of a crying baby to begin his song “People Funny Boy” in 1968, a scathing song against one of his rival producers.” Scratch has collaborated with the Clash, Beastie Boys, George Clinton, and Keith Richards, among others.
The conversation that follows takes a lot of twists and turns and some of his answers were so different from the questions asked. So, to help, the writer* interrupts every now and then to provide context. For example….
PH: You grew up with what, four siblings?
LP: Yeah, I grew up with revolution. *PH: So yeah, he grew up with revolution. Okay, back to the interview … LP: I grew up with revolution in my brain, revolution in my leg, and revolution in my head.
Were there songs in your family before you went off to Kingston, music that you liked? Well, I liked “Charlie Brown,” like pop music. Yeah, I was loving pop music and [songs like, “Yakety Yak” by the Coasters] “Take out those papers and the trash, or you won’t get no spending cash.” I am a lover of pop music. So I reckon my number one spot is Michael Jackson.
Michael Jackson? You’d been recording for years before you heard him, right? Well, I love stars that are uncommon. I’m really a pop music lover. I really love hip-hop music. I love hip-hop music even more than reggae music. Reggae music is okay. I love the American artists, them so much because the American artists have super very good voice [laughs]. So I was always listening to good singers. I love good singers; I love real singers. I watched Bob Marley in that duration before reggae becomes so common. So, most of the stars that I have put up were coming from the American singers. You know what I mean? So, I mean to say if you want to hear about something like “Me love Jamaica because they’re my people,” but they actually are too nice to me and they’re like raggamuffin, and me no like raggamuffin. Me like special artists. James Brown is my friend [laughs].
James Brown? Yeah, was my friend.
Yeah Rolling Stones are my friend. I don’t like to see what will happen to the Americans because most of the American singers, I learned from them and I love them. I don’t know what will happen to the good singers in America to find a way out, to find freedom, because if all of the American singers die, I will cry.
Yeah, I mean singers are our last shot. It will be too boring without the American singers.
*PH: Okay, here is the first interruption! So, at this point, he is talking about how he’d be sad if all of the American singers died because he is referring back to a theory that he revealed when our conversation first started, that the coronavirus is affecting America so badly now because the American government gave Bob Marley cancer. Are you following? He is actually not the only one to believe the second part of this. Most biographers of Bob Marley will acknowledge that there was definitely a suspicious amount of interest the FBI and CIA had in the reggae superstar, and that the agency considered him a threat. Maybe he would inspire a great uprising? Maybe his songs were too political. Most biographers will acknowledge that yes, there is at least some credible evidence that the American government had something to do with the 1978 assassination attempt against Bob Marley, but there is little credible evidence to support the theory that a device the American government had placed in Bob Marley’s shoe caused the cancer that killed him in 1981. However, there are some people who believe that. Lee “Scratch” Perry seems to be one of those people. And he also seems to believe that the virus is karmic retribution.
LP: American scientists and American Obeah men and American beasts gave Bob Marley cancer, in a year. They gave Bob Marley cancer and them could not find the answer. Why did they give Bob Marley cancer? If they give Bob Marley cancer, then Bob Marley give them the virus [laughs].
Excerpt from new oral history ‘So Much Things to Say’ tells the story of harrowing 1976 ambush at Tuff Gong By Roger Steffens (What follows is an excerpt from a Rolling Stone, July 7, 2017, article, edited for size)
Roger Steffens:Friday, December 3, dawned hot and humid. Members of the Wailers Band gathered at Tuff Gong late that afternoon to rehearse for the upcoming concert.
Judy Mowatt: I had a vision a few days before the shooting. Marcia left; she didn’t feel too good about that concert. Like she had a premonition that something could happen, or she heard something and she left the island. Rita and myself had been going to rehearsals. So one night I went to my bed and I dreamt that this rooster, it was a rooster with three chickens, and the rooster got shot, and the shot ricocheted and damaged two of the chickens. I even saw like one of the chicken’s tripe inside, the intestines come out. And I didn’t like it, and I told it to Rita and Rita knew about it. But we were looking out for something. Because usually, how the Africa woman understands, a lot of times we depend on our dreams. We know that when you dream, if it’s not so, it’s close to what it is. So we were expecting something to happen. And then again, I went to my bed. I never mentioned this – but I went to my bed again and I saw in the newspaper where Bob sang that song “Smile Jamaica” and that was the song that created a controversy because of certain lyrics that he had in it that was like a then political slogan: Regardless, you control your state of being, so smile, because the power’s ours. The victory’s ours.
Roger Steffens: The forebodings came true in the midst of rehearsals around 8:30 in the evening. Two white Datsun compacts drove through the gates of Tuff Gong, from which the longtime guards had mysteriously disappeared. The exact number of gunmen who came leaping out, guns blazing, is a subject of controversy. There could have been as many as seven or eight, armed with machine guns and pistols, some reportedly containing homemade bullets. They went room to room, often firing wildly. Continue reading →