The Studio One name is revered by music lovers at home and abroad, and it’s hard to imagine how Jamaican music would sound without Studio One’s involvement.
The late Clement Seymour Dodd, decorated with many titles including Sir Coxson, Downbeat, Roundbeat, Jackson and Sir D, would perhaps be the first name that comes to mind whenever this magnanimous institution is brought up, is his idea original.
Many others can, however, argue that the exceptional lineup of talented singers and musicians who graced the institution played an even greater role in establishing Studio One as the most popular recording studio and the most popular of all time in the country, and as such, they would be the first to remember.
If I had the courage to try to list the many artists who have walked through the doors of 13 Brentford Road, now Studio One Boulevard, the home of Studio One, it would probably work like a never-ending call and I would surely be out of there. write space before I can continue with this article.
It was in the second half of 1963 that Dodd built this famous studio, which over time became a Jamaican version of Berry Gordy’s Motown Studios based in Detroit.
Covering the gamut of popular Jamaican music, names like Don Drummond, The Skatalites Band, The Wailers, Delroy Wilson, Toots and the Maytals, Bob Andy, Alton Ellis, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, The Heptones, Ken Boothe, John Holt, Marcia Griffiths and little prodigy Dennis Brown are just a few of the conservatives who have been immortalized within its walls. It’s almost impossible to remember a prominent Jamaican artist who hasn’t recorded at Studio One.
Dodd, the man behind it all, was actually born in Kingston of full African descent on January 26, 1932.
Many of his childhood days were spent along Love Lane in the heart of Kingston’s bustling commercial scene. While attending All Saints Primary School in West Kingston, cricketer became his first love and a famous English Yorkshire cricketer named Coxson, his idol, from whom he acquired his nickname.
His other love was, of course, music.
Musicologist Mannie Campbell, one of the most knowledgeable people in Jamaican music history and a consultant to many even more prestigious experts, spoke to me in glowing terms about their childhood as best friends living along Love Lane:
âWe used to go to dances together when we were teenagers at places like Forrester’s Hall, Kings Lawn, Silver Lining and Liberty Hall where the nascent sound system circuit was dominated by the early giants of exploitation. like Thomas Wong, ‘The Great Sebastian’ and Arthur Reid, ‘Duc le Troyen’.
An ardent lover of rhythm and the blues, the early exposure undoubtedly ignited the imagination and selfish zeal of young Dodd in fields of similar endeavor.
But it wouldn’t be such an âeasy roadâ in a 1940s Jamaican society where participation in Jamaica’s industrial and commercial life was almost exclusively reserved for foreigners and people of non-African lineage.
Fortunately, however, in his family there were people who were already exposed to commercial activity. Her mother ran a “cold supper shop” in Ladd Lane and Laws Street, where she entertained her customers with a basic music system. Dodd’s aunt operated a retail outlet in central Kingston and his stepfather, Mr Darlington, was a builder by profession, overseeing the construction of Studio One, on land that once housed The End nightclub. .
According to musicologist Campbell, the real turning point in Dodd’s life came with the issuance of an agricultural work visa to the United States around the time of Hurricane Charlie in 1951.
This allowed him, on his travels, to buy much needed equipment, 45 vinyl records and three speakers to start his ‘Sir Coxson Downbeat’ sound.
Returning to Jamaica in 1952, he put his sound on the road, having his first engagement the same year. In the meantime, he opened his own liquor and record store at the intersection of Love Lane and Beeston Street from where he sold both products while entertaining customers with his sound. He gradually developed a rally, and orders for musical engagements began to pour in, forcing Dodd to make several trips abroad to acquire the necessary equipment to meet the growing demand for his music.
Over time, he had no less than five sets operating simultaneously in various locations on any given night.
Dodd’s Next Move – Building a recording studio, pressing plant and printing house as well as producing raw undiscovered talent, was perhaps the highlight of his career and for which he was the best known.
After making his first recording at Ken Khouri’s Federal Records, he successfully commissioned Studio One in 1963 using the services of the powerful Skatalites Band.
The group made memorable ska tracks, while supporting immortal gems from the Wailers, The Maytals, Jackie Opel, Lord Creator and others.
Studio One went on to cover the gamut of old Jamaican music with the crÃ¨me de la lot from Alton Ellis, Ken Boothe, John Holt, Delroy Wilson and The Heptones.
The studio also has the particularity of giving birth to the offspring of reggae – dancehall.
Recording for Studio One in the early 1970s, Lincoln ‘Sugar’ Minott was indeed the avant-garde and the main protagonist of this movement with tracks like Vanity, This old man, and is it true, among others. In the end, Studio One became both the nursery and the university of Jamaican popular music.
Many of the rhythms that have rocked dancehalls over the past quarter century have been copied or influenced by the creations of Studio One and many artists today overlap with them without even realizing it.
Pieces of The Heptones’ Up album, Real rock, Rochefort Rock and Full high the rhythms were heavily copied, while Channel One borrowed heavily from the Studio One catalog.
While the positive impact of Studio One is evident, there were also some very clear negatives. There was a problem with the remuneration artists received from the music mogul. He fell out with some, including Leroy Sibbles, Bob Andy and Alton Ellis. But Dodd, in his defense, maintained he had binding contracts with them.