Reggae greats to be honored in Jamaica

The Mighty Diamonds reggae group to be honored at Tribute to the Greats show in Kingston.

The Wailing Wailers and The Mighty Diamonds, two outstanding reggae groups who emerged from the fabled community of Trench Town, head the honorees for the Tribute To The Greats show in Kingston, Jamaica on July 27.

It is the 22nd straight year of the event which is organized by respected musicologist Kingsley Goodison. He said with the Jamaican government celebrating 2019 as reggae’s 50th anniversary, it is appropriate his show recognizes The Wailing Wailers and The Mighty Diamonds.

“The Wailing Wailers are seminal in just about every aspect of music…vocals, harmonies, musicians. The Diamonds are marking their 50th anniversary this year, so it’s fitting we recognize them,” Goodison said.

Formed during the early 1960s, The Wailing Wailers included Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Neville Livingston (later Bunny Wailer), Junior Braithwaite, Cherry Smith and Beverley Kelso. They broke out in the ska era with a number of hit songs for producer Clement “Coxson” Dodd including Simmer Down, Lonesome Feeling, One Love, Love and Affection and It Hurts to be Alone.

In the 1970s, Marley covered One Love for Island Records. That version is synonymous with world peace and is used as a calling card by many established companies including the Jamaica Tourist Board.

Wailer and Smith are the only survivors from the original Wailing Wailers. Marley died in 1981, Tosh in 1987, Braithwaite in 1999 and Kelso in 2008.

The Mighty Diamonds launched in 1969 with Lloyd “Judge” Ferguson, Fitzroy “Bunny” Simpson and Donald “Tabby” Shaw as original members. Ferguson and Shaw are still active; Simpson suffered a stroke in 2015 and has been unable to tour since.

The current lineup is completed by Joseph “Capo” Williamson, a veteran of the South Florida reggae scene.

Most of The Mighty Diamonds’ classic songs such as The Right Time, I Need A Roof, Have Mercy and Africa were recorded at Channel One studio in the 1970s.

Other awardees this year include pioneer singer/songwriter Owen Gray, Anthony “Chips” Richards, a former marketing executive at Trojan Records, legendary session guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith and Louis Davis of the Vinyl Record Collectors Association.

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