From The Aces To The Zodiacs, A Primer in Jamaican Rock Steady

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Photo by Aston Chin

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By Brian Keyo

Rock Steady, the bridge between Ska and Reggae, had clearly evolved by September of 1966, and by late 1968, it had peaked. Musically, the relentless rhythm of Ska was slowed and the acoustic walking bass style supplanted by hefty electric basslines.

According to Tommy McCook and Rolando Alphonso, who didn’t often agree, Treasure Isle was where Rock Steady started and where the music was first recorded.

Tommy Rolando

Tommy McCook and Roland Alphonso, 12/28/1994. Copyright Brian Keyo.

“It’s Tommy that started the Rock Steady. Yes, to be frank, it was Tommy at Treasure Isle and no one else,” declared Alphonso in an interview with the author on August 1, 1995 in Apache Junction, Arizona. McCook, when informed of the remark a year later at his home in Stone Mountain, Georgia, agreed with it, before deferring to the followers of Duke Reid. “Duke Reid came to me after I had been at Treasure Isle a little while and said that the people who come to his dances were getting older and they couldn’t dance to Ska all night and then go to work in the morning. So he asked me to slow the tempo down and see w’happen. Well, we slowed it down a bit but we kept the great horns in there and that was how Rock Steady started. It was the instrumentalists of Jamaica such as myself who created the Rock Steady riddim.”

I’ll read slightly into McCook’s remark, ” . . . the instrumentalists of Jamaica . . .” to construe that he’s including Nearlin “Lynn” Taitt as one of the instrumentalists, ” . . . who created the Rock Steady riddim.” Taitt recorded with the Supersonics at Treasure Isle studio in 1966 as well as with his Jets band at Federal and WIRL Studios.

Early Rock Steady instrumentals cut at Treasure Isle by McCook and the Supersonics include “Jam Session” and “Mr. Solo.”  Taitt’s work with the Supersonics is evident on the songs “Spanish Eyes,” “Yellow Basket” and “Pink Champagne.”

The Supersonics Band at Club Havana, 1965. Left to right on the bandstand; Lester Williams, Johnny Moore, Danny Simpson, Lloyd Knibb, Herman Marquis and Lloyd Delpratt. Left to right on the dancefloor; Kes Chin, Tommy McCook, George Tucker and Clifton “Jackie” Jackson.

Treasure Isle was the name of a liquor store, then a record label and finally the recording studio established by producer Arthur “Duke” Reid and his wife Lucille “Dutchess” Reid. The Reid’s opened Treasure Isle Liquor Store at 33 Bond Street, on the corner with Charles, in 1958. The studio opened in late 1965, on a newly constructed third floor above the wholesale beverage operation. Just a couple months before the studio opened, The Skatalites had disbanded and Reid subsequently retained Tommy McCook to recruit and lead his studio musicians. McCook already had commitments from some players when he conducted tryouts at his yard on Slip Dock Road in East Kingston to fill remaining spots. This is according to musician Floyd Lloyd Seivright, whom recounted auditioning for McCook there on keyboards, unsuccessfully.

While ascertaining which tune was the ‘first’ Rock Steady song is a matter of contention, what’s clear is that by mid-1966 the musicians were experimenting with slowed rhythms. A song which telegraphed the change from Ska is, “I’ve Got To Go Back Home” by Bob Andy, which was recorded at Studio One in July, 1966.

Two of the first Rock Steady hits were “Take It Easy” by Hopeton Lewis, and “007” by Desmond Dekker. Both were arranged by Lyn Taitt, with the latter recorded on October 6, 1966. Speculation centers on Lewis’ recording having taken place in September. It’s clear that Rock Steady hits such as “Tougher Than Tough” by Derrick Morgan, “Fatty Fatty” by the Heptones, “Hold Them” by Roy Shirley and “Rock Steady” by Alton Ellis came after. In fact, “Tougher Than Tough” was recorded on January 18, 1967.

The evolution began when the spotlight started to shift from the Jazzmen who powered the Ska beat, Don Drummond, Rolando Alphonso, and Tommy McCook et al, to youthful singers, particularly two who are each hailed as Kings of Rock Steady, Alton Ellis and Ken Boothe. Their worthiest competitors were Keith “Slim” Smith, Desmond “Dekker” Dacres, Delroy Wilson, Hopeton Lewis, Justin Hinds, Keith “Bob Andy” Anderson, Ainsworth “Roy Shirley” Rushton, Eric “Monty” Morris, Derrick Morgan, Wilburn “Stranger” Cole and Derrick Harriott.

Desmond Dekker and the Aces.

Notable but obscure male vocalists, with suggestions to seek out from their repertoire, include Henry Buckley, with “Beware Of All The Rude Boys” and “If I’m Right,”Anthony “King Rocky” Ellis, with “The King Is Back” and “You Are The One,” Keith Blake AKA Prince Allah, with “Musically” and “Get In The Groove,” Alva Lewis, with “Return Home” and “I’m Indebted To You,” Hugh Godfrey’s “Go Tell Them” and “You’re My Baby,” and Austin Faithful’s “Ain’t That Peculiar” and “Miss Anti Social.”

One hit wonders of the era must include Frederick Bell, who gave us “Rock Steady Cool” and Falcon Price, who hit the charts with “The Screw” in 1968.
There’s at least two fine songs bigging up beer; “Mr. Hops” by the Renegades and “Hot Hops” by Joe White. Of course, a popular refrain of the era was ” . . . one more box of hops says the man to the bartender,” from the Paragons masterful “On The Beach.”

Male duets of note include Lloyd and Glen (Lloyd Robinson & Glenmore Brown), Owen and Leon Silvera, Joe White and Chuck Josephs and Ewan & Jerry (Ewan McDermott & Jerry Mathias).

George Agard

George Agard.

George Agard and Clifton “Skibo” Harding bear special mention as their recording history is so unusual. As half of Winston & George, Agard cut “Denham Town” and “Keep The Pressure On” in October 1966. As George Dekker he recorded “Govern Your Mouth”in 1967. As Johnny Melody he cut “You Treating Me Bad” and “Foey Man.” He likely recorded with two Rock Steady trios as well. Agard told Dr. Buster Dynamite that he was in the Slickers in 1968 and then joined the Pioneers. (To Dr. B.D., page 11, Sir Lee’s Rock Steady Party At King’s House Jamaica Gold CD 249.)

Harding’s first recording was “What A Agony” as a member of The Conquerors in 1966. After a couple others for producer Sonia Pottinger, including the classic “Won’t You Come Home,” The Conquerors moved to Treasure Isle. They began with two for Duke Reid, and their “Lonely Street” became a sizable hit. Harding parted from the Conquerors after that. During the same period, he recorded “Give Me A Chance” as a member of the Consumates group for producer Derrick Morgan. Harding cooled out for a time after that until he recorded “Zumbelly” as a member of The Woodpeckers duo. His disgust with producer Harry J. over renumeration for that song precipitated his departure from the business. “That’s right, yes, and I never do no more music after that, when I sees I get robbed right there again, for Harry J. only mek ten dollars for the two of us, me and Ruddy.” (Interviewed by David “DRO” Ostrowe, White Plains Road, Bronx, NYC April 1992. Page 20, Dub Catcher #4.)

Patsy Todd, Millicent Todd

Millicent Todd. Courtesy of Lynn Taitt.

The top female vocalists of the era were Millicent “Patsy” Todd, Marcia Griffiths, Joya Landis, Norma Fraser, Cynthia Richards, Rita Anderson Marley, Dawn Penn and Ms. Rock Steady herself, Phyllis Dillon. Dillon was discovered by Lynn Taitt while she was singing in the St. Catherine based Vulcans Band. Taitt introduced her to Duke Reid and arranged and played on all her recordings until he departed Jamaica in August, 1968.

Ron Wilson trombone, Winston Graham trumpet, Lynn Taitt guitar and Lloyd Knibb drums.

Today, more than 40 years later, the artists who recorded Rock Steady under their own names are fairly well known. However, the musicians and vocal group members are not well known. To rectify that, their names are cited below in a roll call of groups. Despite the best intentions, worthy names have doubtless been omitted. Therefore, please forward any that you think should be included so that they may be in the future to bkeyo@tallawah.com

Five bands are responsible for the vast majority of Rock Steady recordings. Tommy McCook and the Supersonics, Lyn Taitt and the Jets, the Soul Brothers, the Soul Vendors and Bobby Aitken & the Carib Beats.

Bobby Aitken

In addition to bandleader Tommy McCook, the Supersonics were; Lloyd Knibb, then Hugh Malcolm, then Paul Douglas on drums, Clifton “Jackie” Jackson on bass, Lloyd Delpratt and then Winston Wright on organ, George “Cowboy” Tucker and then Lorraine “Ronnie Bop” Williams on guitar, Lester Williams, Johnny Moore and then Winston Graham on trumpets, Herman Marquis on alto and baritone saxophones, and Danny Simpson on trombone. Guitarists Lyn Taitt or Ernest Ranglin often joined the group for recording sessions.

The studio at Federal Records was a hotbed of Rock Steady. The main musical outfit working there during 1966-68 was The Jets, led by guitarist Lynn Taitt. Proficient on more than a dozen instruments, the Trinidadian was under a five year contract to Federal when he organized the Jets band. According to Taitt, interviewed on August 15, 1997, “the Jets started in early 1966 with Lloyd Knibb on drums, Joe Isaacs took over on drums in 1968. It was Jackie Jackson and then Brian Atkinson on bass. Atkinson came on in 1968 at same time as Isaacs. Lynford “Hux” Brown on rhythm guitar, ahm, “Deadly” Headley Bennett on alto, it was Bobby Ellis on trumpet, Ron Wilson on trombone, Gladdy, [Gladstone] Anderson was on piano and Carlton Samuels the tenor” [saxophonist]. Gerry Creary subbed for Brown on rhythm guitar and Lennox Brown for Bennett on alto sax.

LynTaitt & Jets Greatest Hits image

Taitt is widely credited with initiating the slowdown in tempo from Ska to Rock Steady in response to Hopeton Lewis’s attempts to sing his song “Take It Easy.” Lewis had difficulty delivering his ballad like composition in the Ska tempo. As he told an interviewer in 1992, “But the whole thing, getting back to the beginning of it all. Is that, we went to the studio that day and the Ska was what was happening. I just couldn’t sing that fast. I just could not keep up with the beat. So then Lynn Taitt turned to Gladstone and say, ‘Why don’t you slow the rhythm down a little bit and see what happens.'”
Hoagy: “On the keyboards.”

Lewis: “Right. Then the whole band started to play much slower. And that when they found out they had a new thing happening. What happened was that the rhythm before was really too fast I could not sing with that rhythm. Maybe because I was a lazy kid growing up. Once it slowed down I was comfortable, because I didn’t know anything about timing and all of that stuff. I just knew I could sing. So that’s when somebody said, ‘Wow, this one Rock Steady!’ and then the whole thing started happening. So when Coxsone [sic] heard that, he started to bring his rhythm down and horns down. Everything started happening then, and it was the Rock Steady beat.” (to Paul “Hoagy” Holgersson, page 17, Dub Catcher #4.)

Hopeton Lewis was not the only artist who started their career at Federal backed by Lyn Taitt and The Jets. The Minstrels, The Renegades, The Termites, and The Tartans were launched by The Jets too. However, Lewis and the four groups departed Federal’s Merritone label in 1967 due to perceived ill treatment. They all went on to make hits at Treasure Isle and Studio 1. The Renegades changed their name to the Classics and then to the Wailing Souls.

The Soul Brothers and Soul Vendors bands were based at Studio 1, with the former led first by Rolando Alphonso then later by trumpeter Bobby Ellis. Jackie Mittoo and Alphonso were co-leaders of the Soul Vendors. For the Soul Brothers band, Alphonso was lead tenor, Ellis lead trumpet and Mittoo controlled the keyboards. Other players included Lloyd Brevett and then Bryan Atkinson and then Leroy Sibbles on bass, Hector “Bunny” Williams and then Joe Isaacs on drums, Dennis “Ska” Campbell on tenor and baritone saxophones and Lester Sterling and Karl “Cannonball” Bryan on alto saxophones.  Johnny Moore played trumpet for Alphonso’s Brothers and the Vendors, and Wallin Cameron, Harry Haughton, Patrick McDonald, Errol Walters, and Eric “Rickabacka” Frater, were the guitarists, respectively.

Soul Brothers with Dodd photo

The Soul Brothers at Studio 1 during their first session, August 23, 1965. Left to right, Jackie Mittoo, Lloyd Brevett, Rolando Alphonso, Johnny Moore, Hector “Bunny” Williams and Wallin Cameron.

Bobby Aitken was the guitarist and leader of The Carib Beats band which featured Winston Richards AKA Grennan on drums, “Iron Sprat” on bongos, Vincent White on bass, Alphanso Henry on alto sax, Val Bennett on tenor sax, Dave Parks on trombone, Mark Lewis on trumpet, and Bobby Kalphat on keyboards. Aitken is namechecked by singer Roy Shirley during “Thank You” for producer Edward “Bunny” Lee and his playing can also be heard on The Ethiopians “Everything Crash,” The Rulers “Wrong Em Boyo,” and The Kingstonians “Winey Winey.”  The latter three were done for Sir JJ, whose shop was located at 133 Orange Street.

The Carib Beats were the main band employed by Carl “Sir JJ” Johnson for his JJ labels, although he also used Lynn Taitt & The Jets and McCook & The Supersonics.  Bobby Aitken elaborated in an interview, “We did songs with The Rulers, The Ethiopians and The Kingstonians. And all of them. Eric Donaldson, I started him off.” (to DRO, Dub Catcher #4, June, 1992.) Donaldson and his West Indians hit for Johnson with “Right On Time.”

WIRL Studios was the scene of many Rock Steady sessions during 1966 and ’67. One reason for its popularity was pointed out by Federal pressman and Merritone label arranger Keith Scott, “WIRL got the first four track machine, and all of the producers left Federal for WIRL.” (Page 6, Dub Catcher #4, June, 1992.) That was in 1966, and is why the WIRL prefix began showing up on so many 45’s around then.

Lynn Taitt and the Jets were the primary band behind artists such as Roy Shirley, Joe White and The Sensations, although The Carib Beats also worked at WIRL. The second edition of The Sensations began their career recording there before moving back to Treasure Isle. The fire that burned down WIRL Studios in November, 1968 was a harbinger of the rhythmic changes. By the time the studio re-opened as Dynamic Sounds under the ownership of Byron Lee in May, 1969, the music had changed.

Bands cut fewer instrumentals during Rock Steady than during the Ska era, with most recordings made by vocal groups. Especially trios featuring a lead and two harmony singers. Today, more than 40 years later, few Rock Steady groups are still viable.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons Rock Steady has received attention in recent years from amateur filmmakers, who have used the music as a vehicle for two documentaries since 2006.

The Japanese film Ruffn’ Tuff was premiered in Tokyo in August, 2006. It featured interviews with crucial artists Gladstone Anderson, Bob Andy, Stranger Cole, Alton Ellis, Lyn Taitt, Lord Creator and Leroy Sibbles. Several artists contributed remakes to the soundtrack. In addition to re-recording two hits, Lynn Taitt contributed an original piece of music, “Under The Hellshire Moon.”

In 2008, Rocksteady:The Roots of Reggae commenced filming, funded in part by the Swiss government. A reunion was planned with artists that Lynn Taitt and The Jets had backed during Rock Steady’s heyday. However, on the second day of filming, as Taitt and the crew were preparing to depart the guitarist’s home in the Montreal suburb of Boisbriand, Taitt was stricken in his driveway. He was taken away by ambulance as the film crew captured the action. Diagnosed with kidney cancer, Taitt was unable to continue his role in the film.

Rock Steady stalwarts such as Derrick Morgan, Hopeton Lewis and Leroy Sibbles appear, but there are also singers and musicians not active during Rock Steady such as the Tamlins, Calvin Cameron, Glen DaCosta, etc. Rocksteady:The Roots of Reggae premiered in Montreal in July, 2009 and a concert featuring singers and players from the film was programmed as part of the annual Jazz Festival.

With that primer, I give you Rock Steady A to Z, an alphabetical listing of the vocal groups which epitomize the sultry beat.

Rock Steady Vocal Groups A to Z

A=Aces (Desmond “Dekker” Dacres, Barrington Howard[tenor], and Winston James Samuel[bass]), Actions (Ephraim “Jerry” Baxter, Bertram “Ranchie” McLean), Alpines, (?, ?, ?), Apostles (Cebert “Jackie” Bernard, Lloyd Bernard, ?).

Desmond Dekker and the Aces

Desmond Dekker and the Aces, 1967.

B=Bassies (Clifford “Charlie” Morrison, Leroy Fischer, Richard “Da Da” Smith [George Blake]), Belltones (E. G., ? & ?), Beltones (Bop/Trevor Shields, Leon Brown, Harold Lewinson, Floyd Lloyd Seivright).

C=Cables (Keble Drummond , Elbert Stewart & Vincent Stoddard, also Robert “Bobby” Dockeray), Clarendonians (Peter Austin & Ernest Wilson, later Freddie McGregor), Classics (Winston “Pipe” Matthews, Lloyd “Bread” McDonald, George  “Buddy” Haye), Coasters (Dalvy Morris, H. Francis, G. Bennett), Coolers, Conquerors (Clifton “Skibo” Harding, Aston Campbell, ? & Yeng), Consumates (George Me, Clive ?, then Clifton “Skibo” Harding), Creations(Barry York & Ossie Henry).

Cables

D= Daltons (?, ?, ?) Diamonds (Helmsley “Ainsley” Coleman Morris, Freddie Butler, Karl “Cannonball” Bryan), Diplomats (?, ?, ?), Dominoes (Justin Hinds, Dennis Sinclair, Egorton “Junior” Dixon), Dynamics (?, ? & ?).

E=Eagles (Pat Francis and Carlton Brown), Emotions1 (Max Romeo, Lloyd Shakespeare, Ken Knight), Emotions2 (Audley Rollens, Leroy Turner, Milton Henry) Ethiopians (Stephen Taylor, Leonard Dillon, Aston Morris/Melvin Reid).

F=Flames (Leslie Ellis, Egger “Baby G” Gordon & Ronnie ?, then Lloyd Charmers), Federals1 (Valman Smykle and Franklyn Spence), Federals 2 (David “Scotty” Scott, Noel Brown, Franklin Spence, later Richard McDonald made them a quartet.) Fugitives (Earl Lowden, ?, ?, ?).

Federals

G=Gaylads (Winston “BB” Seaton, Delano Stewart, & Maurice Roberts), Gladiators (Albert Griffiths, Clinton Fearon, David Webber). Gaylettes (Beryl Lawson, Merle Clemenson, Dawn Hanchard, later Judy Mowatt for Hanchard) Groovers, Lloyd Jackson & The (Ron Jackson,Maurice Gregory).

Gaylads

H=Hamlins (Egbert “Alphonso” Stewart & Alton “Canute”  Brown), Harmonians (?, ?, ?), Heptones (Leroy Sibbles, Barrington Llewellyn, Earl Morgan), Hi Tones(?, ?, & ?), Hurricanes (Winston Jarrett?, Danny Clarke, ?).

Heptones

I=Inspirations (Ransford “Billy Dyce” White, Trevor or Anthony “Jimmy London” Shaw), Invaders (Albert Tomlinson, ? , ?), Inventors (?, ?, ?), Itals (?, ?, ?).

J=Jamaicans (Norris Seymour Weir b. 10/23/1946, Martin Luther Williams b. 8/16/1936, Thomas Lincoln Cowan b.4/6/1946, Errol Kong, Jerry Moore, Owen “Flats” Hylton) Jesters (?, ?, ?).

Jamaicans

K=Kingstonians (Cebert “Jackie” Bernard, Lloyd “Footy” Bernard, Lloyd Kerr) Kilowatts [AKA The Three Tops].

L=Leaders (Keith Blake, Milton Henry, Rebels, Magic Alex [according to Keith Blake AKA Prince Alla on LP notes]), Lyrics (Stafford “Fred Locks” Elliot, Albert Tomlinson, Delmar Campbell).

Maytals

The Maytals with Lynn Taitt and The Comets at The Glass Bucket Club.

M=Madlads (Delroy Williams, George Allison, Ricky Grant) Martinis, (?, ?, ?), Maytals (Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, Raleigh Gordon, Jerry McCarthy), Mellotones (Winston Francis, Melvin Reed, Sammy ? or Wesley Nelson) Melodians (Tony Brevett, Brent Dowe, Trevor McNaughton) Minstrels, (Geoffrey Chung, Mikey Chung, Lennox Robinson). [Minstrels members according to Heartbeat 134 notes. Mikey Chung also cited Claude Braithewaite.]

The Mellotones

N=Natives (Nicky Thomas, ?, ?,) Neptunes (?, ? & ?).

O=Octaves (? , ?, ?), Originators (?), Overtakers1 (Matador) (Llewelyn Graham, Roy ? or Wesley Nelson, Barbara ?), Overtakers2 (Joe Gibbs) (Ruben Brooks, Ruth Brooks, Leroy Williams) [Latter trio active in 2009 in Atlanta GA USA] Overdrives (O. Dalhouse & E. Wallace).

Paragons

 

TheParagons:Gleaner:Palladium TheatreMobayJune66

The Paragons

P=Paragons1 (Bob Andy, Tyrone Evans, Leroy Stamp, Howard Barrett, Junior Menz, later John Holt for Andy and Vic Taylor) Pioneers1 (Sydney Crooks, Derrick Crooks & Winston Hewitt), Pioneers2 (Sydney Crooks, Derrick Crooks & Jackie Robinson), Pioneers3 (Sydney Crooks, Jackie Robinson, George Dekker), Progressions (Milton Henry, Errol Anthony Russell, Rudy Mills, Derrick Bucknor, Patrick Hardy), Prunes (Eric Donaldson, ?).

[Pioneers AKA Reggae Boys]
[Pioneers and some Progressions info from Roots Knotty Roots]

Flames Jarrett

Winston Jarrett, center, & the Righteous Flames. Photograph courtesy of Walter Lindell.

Q= ?

The Royals

R=Regals (Hopeton Lewis, Winston Fraser & Eddie ?), Renegades (Winston “Pipe” Matthews, Lloyd “Bread” McDonald, George “Buddy” Hayes), Righteous Flames (Winston Jarrett, Egger Gordon or Gardener? & Junior Green), Rio Grandes (?, ?, ?), Robbins (Keith Poppin, ?, ?), Royals (Roy Cousins, ?, Errol Green, then Wilson), Rulers (Carlton Alphonso lead, ?, ?).
[Royals info from Roots Knotty Roots.]

Soulettes

The Soulettes. Photographed by Ossie Hamilton. Courtesy of Vintage Boss.

S=Saints (?, ?, ?) Selectors (Leonard Billings, Augustus Phoenix, & Alvin Smith) Scorchers (Osmond ‘Junior’ Holthom, George Wade, & Dennis Williams), Sealmates (?, ? & ?), Sensations (initially Harold “Bobby Davis”, Jimmy Riley, Buster Riley and Cornell Campbell.  2nd Edition, Jackie Parris, Radcliffe “Duggie” Bryan and Buster Riley, then with Johnny Osbourne), Sharks (Dwight Pinkney, Danny McFarlane, Alfred Crossley & Lloyd Robinson), Shoes (Carlton Manning, Lynford Manning & Alexander Henry) Silvertones (Gilmore Grant, Delroy Denton, Keith Coley), Slickers (Roy Beckford, Derrick Crooks, Winston Bailey), Soul Agents (Dudley Sibley/Clement Dodd & Jackie Mittoo), Soul Boys1 (Barrington Spence, Ralph Blake), Soul Boys2 (Naggo Morris, Sylvan Clarke),  Soulettes (Rita Marley, Marlene Gifford, and ?, then Constantine “Dream” Walker), Spanishtonians (Winston Jones, Kenroy Fyffe, unknown female?), Swingers (Peter Tosh?, ? & ?).
[Soul Boys info from Roots Knotty Roots]

Termites

Lloyd Parks, left, with Wentworth Vernal. The Termites.

T=Tartans (Cedric Myton, Devon Russell, Lindbergh Lewis, Prince Lincoln Thompson, (later members)Martin Williams, Norris Weir), Techniques (Initially Slim Smith, Winston Riley, Frederick Waite & Franklin White, then with Morvin Brooks, Bruce Ruffin & Junior Mends), Tempests (Roy Cousins, Bertram “Harry” Johnson, Errol “Tralla” Green) Tennors (Albert “George” “Clive” Murphy, Maurice “Prof.” Johnson, Norman Davis. Johnson died & was replaced by Milton Wilson. Ronnie Davis later became lead vocalist), Termites (Lloyd Parks, Wentworth Vernal), Three Tops (Dion Cameron, Orville Robinson, Joe Riley), Tonettes AKA Summertairs AKA The Webber Sisters (Merlene and Cynthia Webber).

Tonettes

Merlene and Cynthia Webber. The Webber Sisters AKA The Tonettes AKA The Summertairs.

U=Uniques1 (Slim Smith, Franklyn White & Roy Shirley, later Lloyd Tyrell and Jimmy Riley, 90’s Al Campbell, Cornell Campbell & Jimmy Riley), Uniques2(Bob ? & Roy ?), Untouchables1 (Enos McLeod, ?, ?), Untouchables2 (Anthony “Jimmy London” Shaw & Rainsford “Billy Dyce” White).
V=Valentines (AKA The Silvertones), Versatiles (Kerrie “Junior” Byles, Louis Davis & Dudley Earl), Vibrators (Leslie Bailey, Carlton Bradford, Solomon Gayle), Viceroys (Wesley Tinglin, Daniel Bernard, Linval “Bunny” Gayle (or Williams?), later Norris Reid and Neville Ingram), Victors (Clifford Morrison, George Blake, Richard Smith), Virtues (?), Visions (?).

Versatiles

The Versatiles.

W=Wailers (Bob Marley, Peter Tosh & Neville “Bunny Wailer” Livingston), West Indians (Eric Donaldson, Hector Brooks and Leslie Burke), Westmorelites (Keith Porter, Lloyd Ricketts & Roy Smith), Wildcats (Al Campbell, ?, & ?), Willows (Cecil Brown, Carl Dryden, & ? Brown), Woodpeckers (Clifton “Skibo” Harding & Ruddy Fowley), Wrigglers (Denzil Laing, ? & ?).
[Willows info from Roots Knotty Roots.]

X=

Y=Yardbrooms (Lowell “Sly” Dunbar (drums), Horace (guitar), ? on bass and Barry York on vocals, all according to Sly).

Z=Zodiacs (Claude Sang Jr., Eugene Dwyer, Kingsley Ainsley George “Robbie” Robinson & Winston John Service).  Robinson is on the right below, in the glasses with his right arm raised.

Zodiacs

An early version of this article was published in Full Watts Reggae-zine vol 5, no. 2.

Respect to Nearlin Taitt and to David DRO Ostrowe for inspiring this article.

Thanks to Todd Campbell and Bunny Wong for supplying additional information.