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
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 A 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