Horace ‘Augustus Pablo’ Swaby

By: Cerone White

On this day in Caribbean history, roots reggae, June 21, 1954, dub record producer, Melodica player and keyboardist, Horace Swaby, a.k.a Augustus Pablo, was born in St. Andrew, Jamaica. Swaby popularized the use of the Melodica, a wind instrument with a small keyboard controlling a row of reeds with a mouthpiece at one end.

In the 1980’s Swaby’s career began to slow down but that didn’t stop him from being featured on the soundtrack of the documentary D.O.A. A Right of Passage,  a rockumentary film directed by Lech Kowalski, gave Swaby a rise in the American audience giving him the edge he needed to capitalize on the moment releasing Rising Sun in 1986.

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Swaby has contributed to what Reggae music is today with his genius, uncommon musical instruments. He has helped provide the soundtrack to some of our most beloved songs including “Higgi Higgi” and “East of the River Nile”. He has released over thirty albums before his death on May 18, 1999 in Kingston, Jamaica. Swaby suffered from a nerve disorder called Myasthenia Gravis; his lungs collapsed as a result of this illness.




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