Category Archives: History

Tribute to Rico Rodriguez (1934-2015)

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Rico Rodriguez, trombonist, was part of the backbone to the development of reggae music, ever since the genre itself was in its earliest stage as Blue Beat and Ska. His style derived from the Jazz music that was coming out of the USA.

We are delighted and proud that we encountered an experience with this individual, when he performed on trombone, along with “Satch” (trumpet) and Dick Cuthrie (saxophone), on our Tribute To The Martyrs album. This album has always been recognised by our hardcore fans as being one of our best efforts.

To our fans out there, Rico, a student at the Alpha Boys Music School, in Kingston JA, was born in1934, in Havanna, Cuba.

A big up to the UB40 crew, too. Rico, a Ras that no one could separate from his spiff, once said to me that the first time he every received any decent and consistent money in this business was when he teamed up and went on tour with UB40. He said, “The man dem a look after me good, Dread!! The man dem a look after me good!”

So to the “Man from Wareika,” Jah guidances through your transition.  A milestone!

RASTAFARI Lives On (1892-1975)

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Here is a painting I did of H.I.M. Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I, The Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah.  RASTAFARI liveth still.

And lest we forget, here is a photo of Emmitt Till:

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Yesterday was also the 60th anniversary of his death. Sixty years on and very little has changed in the Deep South of the US.

Emmitt, then aged 14, was taken out of the house of his relatives in the middle of the night while on vacation in Mississippi. Reason? It was said that he made some kind of pass to a white woman earlier that day. His corpse was later found with his face badly mutilated. When the body was return back to his home town, Chicago, his mother had him paraded in an open casket for the whole world to see.

Yes, August 28, 1955 was a sad day in America’s history.

Now, with the more recent death of Trayvon Martin and the never-ending stream of homicides of young black youths at the hands of a militarized police, we have tension once again in the streets.

This question is to each and everyone: are we witnessing the compound aftermath and effects of slavery and colonialism in today’s society?

As Dr Martin Luther King, who we respect for being an advocate that brought about the voting rights for Afro Americans, 50 years ago, this month, would say, “Let Freedom Ring.”

R.I.P. Julian Bond

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“Violence is black children going to school for 12 years and receiving 6 years’ worth of education. 

“Any time someone carries a picket sign in front of the White House, that is the First Amendment in action. 

“The war in Iraq has as much to do with terrorism as the administration has to do with compassion.

“As legal slavery passed, we entered into a permanent period of unemployment and underemployment from which we have yet to emerge. 

“The First Amendment means everything to me.

- Julian Bond

There we were last night performing “Let Freedom Ring,” in honour of Dr Martin Luther King, in Costa Mesa to celebrate the 50th anniversary this month, where documents were signed that declared all African Americans the legitimate right to vote, yet not being aware that one of the most prolific activist of the Civil Rights Movement leaders, Julian Bond, had passed.

Horace Julian Bond, born 14 January 1940, transition 15 August 2015. I first recognised Julian back in 1986, doing an interview on national TV. It immediately struck me how eloquent and articulate he was on getting his message across. He remain a solid and focused figure in my eyes from then on.

Julian, at least you were around long enough to witness that 50 year milestone of progress in American history. You will be sadly missed by those that knew you.

Condolences to your sincere friends and family.


Medgar@ 90

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Although this is the last day of July, I would like you take some time and join me to pay tribute to Medgar Evers, because it was in this month, the 2nd of July to be precise, he would have turned 90 years old.

For the many world wide who is unfamiliar, Medgar Evers was the leader of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement for Coloured People), based in Jackson Mississippi. He was cut down while leaving his parked car, walking towards his home and family, on June 12th 1963.

Although Medgar was not internationally known as Dr Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, his role as a Freedom Fighter and activist was easily on par with the others. As a matter of fact, I personally consider him to be the most courageous of them all due to the fact that he was against all the odds, residing in the most racist zones in the US at that time, unprotected by the law or an entourage of friends and well-wishers.

I present another painting of mine, once again, unfinished in honour of such an icon. Medgar, may you continue to make your friends, family and mankind, proud.

Marcus Garvey – 75 Years On



Hail Mi Irieites,

More commemorations.

10th June 2015 was the 75th anniversary of the Right Honourable, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, making his transition.

If you have been following, about a year ago I made a visit to the house he occupied in London during the 1930s as well as the house where he was born, in Saint Ann’s, Jamaica, 1887.

The works of Marcus Garvey have not gone unnoticed. Let’s see if the powers that be can put their Hearts together to have this African icon exonerated.

In the meantime, let’s continue to Rally Round the flag.



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Birmingham’s reggae legends UB40 and Steel Pulse have confirmed they will play two very special shows together for the first time in December 2015.

The first show will take place at London’s O2 Academy Brixton on Sunday, 20th December, followed by a hometown show at the O2 Academy Birmingham on Monday, 21st December.

Steel Pulse’s lead singer David Hinds said, “Yes, this is history in the makings when the two Birmingham giants have come together to make our city proud. This is a legacy to be witnessed and documented and treasured for the rest of our lives.  Forget about the million dollar question as to why it took so long. The hard core fact is that it is happening and we hope everyone will “show up” for this “show down” come December 2015. We, Steel Pulse, will be celebrating our 40th anniversary, too.”

UB40’s Robin Campbell said, “I’m looking forward to seeing Pulse again, they’re one of the best live reggae bands, a class act.”

UB40 formed in 1978, naming themselves after the unemployment benefit form, before releasing their debut album ‘Signing Off’ in August 1980 – considered by many to be one of the greatest reggae albums ever released by a British band. It was the start of a career that has since seen the band have over forty UK Top 40 hit singles and achieve sales of over 100 million records, making UB40 one of the most successful British groups of all time

Formed in 1975 at Birmingham’s Handsworth Wood Boys School, Grammy Award-winning Steel Pulse have been true to their roots for the past forty years. One of Bob Marley’s favourites, the band has maintained a sense of fierce integrity as it strives to get the message of love and justiceacross to all people. They won a Grammy for their 1986 album ‘Babylon The Bandit’, and received further Grammy nominations for the albums ‘Victims’, ‘Rastafari Centennial’, ‘Rage & Fury’, ‘African Holocaust’ and ‘Vex’.

Steel Pulse are David “Dread” Hinds (lead vocals, rhythm guitarist, composer and harmonica player), Selwyn “Bumbo” Brown (keyboards, vocals), Sidney “Predator” Mills (keyboards, backing vocals), Amlak “AmBASSador” Tafari (bass), Wayne “Ceesharp” Elvis Clarke (drums),  Moonie (lead guitar), Keysha McTaggart (backing vocals), and Jerry “Saxman” Johnson (saxophone).

UB40 are Robin Campbell (co-lead vocals and guitar), Duncan Campbell (lead vocals) Earl Falconer (bass, vocal), Brian Travers (saxophone and keyboards), Jimmy Brown (drums), Norman Hassan (percussion, vocals). The band also feature, Martin Meredith (sax) and Laurence Parry (trumpet) and Tony Mullings (keyboards).

 Tickets are £35 (STBF), available on O2 PRIORITY from Wednesday 27th May at 9.00am

General sale Friday 29th May at or 0844 477 2000

Irving Wladawsy-Berger

Ali vs. Liston – May 25, 1965

Exactly 15 months after Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston for the Heavyweight Championship, he made his first title fight defence against the former champion, who he’d called “the bear.” This was on May 25th 1965. Today, marks the 50th anniversary of this great occasion.

There was plenty of controversy in the period between the two fights. To begin with, upon receiving his belts Ali announced that he was a Muslim and denounced the original name he was once called, which was Cassius Clay. His claim was that it was a name given to him by his former slave masters.

This was not good publicity in the eyes of the authorities in regards to the rematch. They saw problems ahead for hosting the event.

Secondly, there were many who believed that Liston had thrown the first fight, and claiming it could have been mafia controlled, creating the need for a rematch. The first fight was also remembered for Ali screaming and showing emotions of pain to his eyes, stating that the gloves that Liston was wearing were laced with something to blind him.

Thirdly, it was only three months prior to the rematch that Malcolm X, was assassinated, creating a huge rift amongst others in this new found religion of Ali’s.

In any event the contest took place at Lewiston’s Central Maine Youth Center, as oppose to another place in Boston where it was initially planned. If my memory serves me correctly ( it was soooo long ago), the fight lasted only 64 seconds, becoming one of the fastest first round knock outs in history at that time. The punch, landed by Ali, was known as “The Phantom Punch.” It brought about even more controversy due to no one actually seeing it strike Liston, hence believing that Liston, once again had thrown the fight. But after several slow motion reruns, everyone was able to see how it was done, though there were many still not convinced it was hard enough to send the former champ toppling on the canvas. But this was the start of a new era for boxing. An era of witnessing an unusual speed and agility from a heavyweight.

Anyway, fans please excuse me for not posting this sooner. Travelling got the better of me. In the meantime please try and enjoy the painting that I just started of this incredible individual. Muhammad Ali: