Born 1947 in Kingston or Montego Bay, Jamaica, LLOYD JAMES aka Jammys is interested in little else but the sound system business from a very early age. He begins by building amplifiers and repairing electrical equipment from his mother’s house in the WATERHOUSE area of downtown Kingston, and is soon playing live with his own sound system. His prowess earned him a deserved local reputation as PRINCE JAMMY.
In the early 70’s Jammy left Jamaica to work in Canada. After working for a few years on live stage shows and various studio activites and sound system work, he returned to Kingston and set up his first studio at his in-laws’ home in Waterhouse.
In 1978 Errol Scorcher joins the Tapetone sound system – widely acknowledged as Jammy’s first dancehall venture. The combination of Scorcher alongside artists like Nicodemus, Mama Liza and Kojak promotes the system to a position as the island’s number one sound. During this time, Tubby’s top engineer, PHILIP SMART, left for New York and Jammy joins Tubby’s team.
It is during this time with Tubby that Jammy meets the most influential people in reggae; he acknowledges, in particular, the inspiration provided by BUNNY LEE and YABBY YOU.
While continually expanding his own studio and sound system, in the late 70’s he releases his own productions, including the debut Black Sounds Uhuru album. In 1985 he records a youth singer called Wayne Smith with a tune called ‘UNDER ME SLENG TENG‘, which alters and revolutionizes the sound of reggae music. The foundation for ‘Sleng Teng’ is a Casio Music Box and one of the ‘rock’ rhythms from the box that is adapted and slowed down to become a ‘reggae’ rhythm. Before long there are over 200 different versions of the rhythm available, as every producer and artist jumps on Jammy’s bandwagon.Digital reggae rules and Jammy “the originator” rides the crest of the wave.
Jammy’s records and sound system dominate and control reggae music for most of the 1980’s in Jamaica. BOBBY DIGITAL, now an established producer in his own right, is brought into Jammy’s camp and he soon becomes right-hand man in the set-up, with STEELY & CLEVIE providing the rhythms. Both are established musicians with a real feeling for the new sound, and a bewildering array of 7-inch and 12-inch singles and albums are released every month. Most are massive Jamaican hits and with the help of long-time associate COUNT SHELLY, the records are released simultaneously in New York and London while Jammy administers the business in Jamaica.
Jammy’s ’90’s output is not as prolific, but he still continues to lead while others follow. In 1995, he revives his most innovative tune on Sleng Teng Extravaganza ’95, featuring modern artists updating the rhythm with their own interpretations.
King Jammy at the Controls
The above clip, also featuring “Gold” of Don Carlos and Gold, is from the acclaimed documentary called “Deep Roots Music,”, which is included below as a playlist:
I have provided a link for you to download what is, in my opinion, one of Prince Jammy’s crowning achievements, “Kamikazi Dub.” This album is currently out of print and can only be purchased used through collectors or specialty record stores.
Prince Jammy’s Kamikazi Dub
Record Date: 1979
Throne Of Blood
Brothers Of The Blade
Oragami Black Belt
Fist Of Fury
Swords Of Vengeance
Downtown Shanghai Rock
Waterfront Gang War
Producer : Prince Jammy
Mixing Engineer : Prince Jammy
Backing Band : The Revolutionaries
Drums : Sly Dunbar & Santa Davis
Bass : Robbie Shakespeare & Jah Mike
Lead Guitar : Duggie & Chinna
Rhythm Guitar : Bo Peep & Bingy Bunny
Piano : Keith Sterling & Augustus Pablo
Organ : Winston Wright & Ansel Collins
Horns : Bobby Ellis & Deadly Headly
Percussions : Scully Simms & Sticky
Recording : Channel One (Kingston, JA)
Mixing : King Tubby’s (Kingston, JA)
“Throne of Blood”