Skip to comments.Jamaican Singer Derrick Morgan Has Been There, done That -- for Real
Posted on 05/18/2013 2:29:01 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Jamaican singer Derrick Morgan recorded the song "Conquering Ruler" in 1967, and it was no empty boast. He dominated his country's airwaves in the early '60s when he was barely out of his teens. Now 73 and performing regularly, Morgan is equally proud of his endurance.
But Morgan never had much choice. He grew up near Kingston's Orange Street, which was lined with record stores and producers. Morgan studied bookkeeping at school and began singing for his classmates. An eye disease left him with poor vision and unable to ever crunch numbers professionally. Fortunately, Morgan's winning rendition of Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally" at a citywide talent show led to performance offers throughout the island.
While Morgan traveled around Jamaica in the late 1950s, he and his friends listened to R&B beaming in from Miami radio stations. Their attempt to copy these sounds created something new.
"When we were trying to catch the R&B beat, we turned out doing ska," Morgan said from his home in Clarendon, Jamaica. "The drum is playing straight with a straight bass, and then you have the piano and guitar playing the same kind of riffs, and the tenor blowing like the piano."
Morgan also drew on his nation's changes. He released the patriotic "Forward March" in 1962, just as Jamaica declared independence. That same year he had seven songs in the country's top 10 chart. During the mid-'60s, Morgan worked with guitarist Lynn Taitt, whose slower tempos and percussive lines established a popular beat called rocksteady. He also sang about young criminals in Kingston who were called "rude boys."
Jimmy Cliff, who was Morgan's close friend and occasional co-composer, said those songs came from his own circumstances.
"Derrick knew it from experience," Cliff said. "He lived in the ghetto, so he tapped into that
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