Mittwoch, 9. September 2015

Kenneth Wilson

Producer, Sound System Operator, Artist and Songwriter

Kenneth "Drum-Beat" Wilson was born in Hayes, Clarendon, Jamaica in 1942. He has two 
younger brothers, Leonard Wilson, who died in a train accident in 1977, and his youngest 
brother, Ernest (Shark) Wilson.
"Shark Wilson is the same person as Ernest Wilson. He was given that name by Bunny Lee  
because Bunny says Ernest is too sharkish for money when he is doing recordings for Bunny 
Lee”, Kenneth smiles.

At the age of nine he came to Kingston to live with his aunt who was living at the McGregor Gully,
where he attended the Rollington Town Primary School. After finishing school he did construction
work and was a security guard with a company on Holborn Road.

"About 1958/1959 I started operating a sound system called "Ajax;" this was owned by a 
man from Clarendon by the name of "Tilbaney Singh."  For 5 years I operated that sound 
and I remember one night in 1963, I went to play at a place called Brandon Hill in Clarendon 
and the Clarendonians (Ernest Wilson and Peter Austin) came there to sing and because 
there was no band, the group had to sing from the records I was playing."

Drum-Beat was also close to Freddie McGregor's family, as they were nearby neighbours.  

"I remember one morning in 1963, Little Freddie came through the fence singing a song, 
"If You Want To Know How Dumpling Sweet, Dip It Ina Coconut Oil", and my brother Ernest 
said to him ....'You sound like you can sing.'  So my mother gave him bus fare and Ernest took 
him to Sir Coxson Dodd in Kingston."

Kenneth recalls his first recording session: 

"It was the year 1967. My mother and a cousin gave me 25 pounds to go and try my hands
at producing artists. So I took Peter Austin, my brother Ernest Wilson and Freddie McGregor
to Federal Recording Studio and record my first two songs with Lynn Taitt and The Jets to
do the backing tracks.  Freddie McGregor was 10 years old at the time. On that session I laid
down two tracks, one with Peter and Ernest entitled 'Take it or Leave it' by the Clarendonians. 
The next track was 'Deep Down in My Heart' with Ernest and Freddie. So I released both 
songs as the Clarendonians A & B on a Drum-Beat label."  These were followed by 
"Take Message To Mary" and "What You Gonna Do About It." 

In these early days Kenneth didn't have the money to buy stampers to press his productions, so 
he had to pass the recordings on to people who he trusted to release them for him, but most of
the time he never heard about his recordings again, and he rarely received payment from his
productions. For example, he gave several songs to Harry B. Robinson, who had a label called 
Carib-Dis-Co, and never saw a penny. Robinson, in turn, sold some of these tunes to Pama in 

Six other songs that Kenneth produced and recorded in 1968, at Studio One, with the financial 
help of his auntie Evelyn Carty were given to a UK soundman for sound system use only.  
Kenneth never knew that these songs got released in England on Birmingham's Junior Records 
label (Junior Bradley).

"’Make up Your Mind’ by Devon and Cedric was produced by me, Kenneth Wilson. I can 
remember giving them 40 pounds up front in those days. Their real names are Devon Russell 
and Cedric Myton."

The band who Kenneth used to record in the late 60's and early 70's were the Hippy Boys.  

"I can only remember a few of the musicians’ names right now.  On bass was Aston Barrett
(Family Man), Bob Marley's bassist.  Me, Kenneth Wilson was the second person to take him 
to a recording studio.  His first recording was entitled "Watch This Sound."  I think it was
done by The Uniques.  He didn't start to do recordings for Bob Marley as yet, though. On 
drums was his brother, Carlton Barrett (Carlie).  I was the first to take him to a recording 
studio. Lead guitarist was Ranny Williams (Ranny Bop), second guitar was Jackson Jones 
(Jacko), on keyboard was Michael Martin, and Bobby Kalphat was 2nd Keyboardist.”

Most of Kenneth’s masters were destroyed by one of his family members, so these new re-
releases were copied from records and re-mastered.  Kenneth must have produced over 50 
songs with many version sides, and on one of them, "Chapters Of Life," he can be even heard
Today, Kenneth lives in Vineyard Town in Kingston 3 and moves around with a crutch. He was 
involved in a motor vehicle accident in October 2009, and suffered various injuries including a 
broken leg. To this day we cannot find all the recordings that Kenneth remembers: 

"There are still some tracks that I lost and cannot find. Somewhere about 1974 I remember 
I overdub on a rhythm track with an organ playing a melody. It was something like this, 
"Dog Gone A Matthews Lane Them Can't Bite Me." You have the rhythm track on one of
those records. I do not remember which of them. I gave it to Record Distribution to distribute 
only overseas (not in Jamaica). His name is L.O. Pottinger; he is now deceased. One of his
label was Record Distributor." 

One other record Kenneth is still looking for is "Take Your Things And Go" by Leonard Wilson. 
This one could not be located yet: 

"The Seven in One (Medley) rhythm. I put a Horns Man on such. His name is Bobby Ellis.
I cut the stamper and press about 50 pieces and that's it, I cannot find nothing."

special thanks to Colby/vintage boss magazine, who had an article in Vintage Boss that we used

for some references...

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