On this day in music history: June 10, 1980 - “Uprising”, the twelfth studio album by Bob Marley & The Wailers is released. Produced by Bob Marley & The Wailers, it is recorded at Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica from January - April 1979. It is the final studio album released by the band in Marley’s lifetime, as he succumbs to cancer only one day short of eleven months after its release. Even more spiritual in content than his previous albums, many of the songs express his Rastafarian faith. The album spins off two singles including “Could You Be Loved” (#5 UK, #6 US Club Play, #56 R&B) and “Redemption Song”. The album is remastered and reissued in 2001, featuring an alternate version of “Redemption Song” and the 12" version of “Could You Be Loved” included as bonus tracks. It is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2015 as a stand alone release and as part of the box set “The Complete Island Recordings”. “Uprising” peaks at number six on the UK album chart, number forty one on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number forty five on the Top 200.
On this day in music history: May 8, 1984 - “Legend”, the twelfth album by Bob Marley & The Wailers is released. Produced by Bob Marley & The Wailers, Chris Blackwell and Alex Sadkin, it is recorded at Dynamic Sound Studios, Harry J Studios, Randy’s Studios, Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, Lyceum Theatre and Island Studios in London, from Early 1972 - Mid 1983. The fourteen track album is the first greatest hits compilation of Bob Marley & The Wailers catalog and covers material released from 1972 to 1983. It goes on to become the biggest selling reggae album in history, selling over twenty five million copies worldwide. To promote the album, the track “Buffalo Soldier”, a track from Marley’s final recording sessions in 1980 (first issued on the posthumous compilation “Confrontation” in 1983), is issued as a single to promote the album with an accompanying music video. The original cassette configuration includes two bonus tracks not included on the original vinyl LP pressing. In 2002, Universal Music Group issues a two CD Deluxe Edition with the second disc including extended versions and remixes of the tracks featured on the original album. “Legend” hits number one on the UK album chart, peaking at number twenty six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 14x Platinum by the RIAA, earning a Diamond Certification.
WE SALUTE YOU GARNETT SILK: Garnett Silk (born Garnet Damion Smith; April 2, 1966 – December 9, 1994), was a Jamaican reggae musician and Rastafarian, known for his emotive, powerful and smooth voice. During the early 1990s he was hailed as a rising talent, but his career was ended by his early death in 1994, while attempting to save his mother while his house was on fire.
Smith was born in Manchester, Jamaica. His musical career began at the age of twelve, when he performed under the name Little Bimbo. During the 1980s he worked as a deejay on sound systems such as Conquering Lion, Soul Remembrance, Pepper’s Disco, Stereophonic, and Destiny Outernational (where he first met Tony Rebel). He recorded his first track in 1985, but it would be two years later before his first single, “Problem Everywhere” was released. An album of material from this period (Journey) was later released. In 1988, he joined Sugar Minott’s Youth Promotion label, releasing “No Disrespect”, and working regularly with Tony Rebel, Smith now being billed simply as ‘Bimbo’. The pair began performing as a duo around the sound systems to much acclaim. The Garnett Silk Meets the Conquering Lion: A Dub Plate Selection album dates from about this time and features a clutch of exclusive recordings the DJ cut for the sound system from the mid-1980s through the end of the decade. Rebel, a Rastarfari, eventually converted Smith to his religion with the help of dub poet Yasus Afari, a close friend of both the DJs. Singing career
In 1989, at the suggestion of veteran singer Derrick Morgan, Smith turned from deejaying to singing, with a recording session at Bunny Lee’s studio with Rebel, including tracks recorded separately, as a duo, and with Anthony Selassie, and he began working under his real name.
The Heartbeat label’s Tony Rebel Meets Garnett Silk in a Dancehall Conference compiles these early Morgan-overseen recordings. The success of this session led him to continue as a singer, going on to work with producers King Tubby, Prince Jammy, and Donovan Germain, before signing a two-year contract with Steely & Clevie in 1990, recording an album’s worth of songs for them. It was the production duo who decided to change his name to Garnet Silk, in reference to his smooth voice.
Only one of the tracks recorded during this period, “We Can Be Together,” a duet with Chevelle Franklin, was actually released at the time, and discouraged by this, he returned to Manchester and threw himself into songwriting, often in partnership with an old friend, Anthony “Fire” Rochester.
Another encounter with Tony Rebel brought an introduction to Courtney Cole, owner of the Roof International label. Silk would record a plethora of songs at the producer’s Ocho Rios studio, amongst them were the hits “Mama,” “Seven Spanish Angels,” and a cover of the Johnny Nash classic “I Can See Clearly Now”. Roof International would posthumously bundle up these early singles and other material recorded at this time for the Nothing Can Divide Us album, which the VP label picked up for the U.S.
By 1992, Silk was in Kingston in the studio with producer Bobby Digital, recording his debut album It’s Growing. Split between deeply cultural themes, spiritual songs, and romantic numbers, the album went on to become one of the best selling in Jamaica that year, and he had his first major hit single with “Hey Mama Africa” (produced by Richard “Bello” Bell) for the Star Trail label, which was Silk’s first international hit, and topped the reggae chart in Britain.
Over the next two years, the singer would record with most of the major name producers on the island, both on his own and in partnership with Tony Rebel. He cut a swathe of songs with King Jammy, including “Fill Us Up With Your Mercy” and “Lord Watch Over Our Shoulders.” The latter track titled a 1994 compilation released by the Greensleeves label in the U.K. and boasts seven Jammy cuts and a clutch of hits for other producers.
1993’s Gold, released by the U.K. Charm label, bundled up more hits from this period. Amongst them was “Zion in a Vision,” a Jamaican number one cut with producer Jack Scorpio, as well as “Hey Mama Africa”. he also recorded for Sly & Robbie, including the deeply religious “Thank You, Jah” and the haunting “Green Line.” But the pace was becoming too much and Silk collapsed during a show at the Ritz in New York City, suffering from low blood pressure and exhaustion. The exhausted singer was forced to cancel all his scheduled appearances for the next six months, most crucially of all, what would have been his debut at Reggae Sumfest. However, Silk bounced back in 1994 and set back to work. In a show of good grace, he rejoined Steely & Clevie and cut the “Love Is the Answer” single, another massive hit. “Fight Back,” produced by Richie Stephens, was next up. By then, the singer was ready to re-take the stage, which he did with a vengeance, headlining that year’s Reggae Sumfest and Reggae Sunsplash festivals. His set at the latter event was captured for the Live at Reggae Sunsplash 1994 album, released in 1999 by the Tabou1 label. Silk’s backing band was Jahpostles, who originally formed in the late 1970s. Death:
Having signed an international distribution deal with Atlantic Records, Silk now entered Tuff Gong studios with producer Errol Brown and the cream of Jamaica’s sessionmen (including Aston Barrett, Sly & Robbie, Tyrone Downie, Earl “Chinna” Smith, and Uziah “Sticky” Thompson), to begin work on his second album. He’d recorded ten songs and the album was nearing completion when he went home to visit his mother. Silk had borrowed a pair of guns from his attorney after his home had been burglarized, but had no idea how to use them. Sitting with a couple of friends at his mother’s house in Mandeville, Jamaica, on December 9, one offered to show him how they worked, at which point the gun accidentally misfired, hitting a propane tank and setting the house ablaze. The singer, his friends, and his two brothers made it out safely, only to discover that Silk’s mother was still trapped inside. The singer rushed back into the house to save her, but it was too late and both were lost in the fire.
The events surrounding Garnett’s death have been said to be questionable and this requires a reliable source. There are talks about the burglary and his death being connected in a more suspicious manner and some of them appear to have come from sources close to the artist.
Silk’s music has been kept alive by several tributes, including Macka B’s “Tribute to Garnett Silk” and the Earth Day concert, and numerous compilation albums, including two collections of his dubplates, Kilamanjaro Remembers Garnett Silk (Jam Down, 1999) and Rule Dem (Trojan/Sanctuary 2006).
In 2000, Atlantic finally released The Definitive Collection, a two-CD set showcasing the ten tracks the singer had recorded during sessions for his unfinished second album.
Silk’s son Garnet Smith Jr. has followed him into a career in music.
Silk’s nephew Anthony Cruz recorded a tribute album in 2013, featuring cover versions of fifteen of Silk’s songs.
It’s Growing (1992)
Gold (1993) Charm
Buju Banton Meets Garnett Silk and Tony Rebel (1993) Rhino (with Buju Banton and Tony Rebel)
Love Is The Answer (1994) VP
Lord Watch Over Our Shoulders (1994) Greensleeves
Tony Rebel Meets Garnett Silk in a Dance Hall Conference (1994) Heartbeat
Nothing Can Divide Us (1995) VP
Journey (1996) VP
Reggae Max (1996) Jet Star
Give I Strength (1999) VP
Killamanjaro Remembers (1999) Jamdown
Live at Reggae Sunsplash 1994 (1999) Tabou
Collector’s Series (1999) Heartbeat
Garnett Silk Meets the Conquering Lion: a Dub Plate Selection (2000) Conquering Lion
The Definitive Collection (2000) Atlantic
The Definitive Collection (2001) Atlantic (2-CD edition)
100% Silk (2001) VP
Legends of Reggae Vol.5 (2001) Artists Only
This Sound Leads The Way (2001) Rhino (Garnett Silk & The DJs)
Silky Mood (2002) VP
The Very Best of Garnett Silk - Gold (2002) Jet Star
Reggae Anthology: Music Is The Rod (1994) VP
Rule Dem (2006) Trojan
Garnett Silk and Friends (2002) MVD
Golden Voices of Reggae (2005) Island MVD
Stephen Marley knows that recording at Jamaica’s Tuff Gong Studio is special. The legend and spirit of the studio’s past lives on in the sounds of the present, inspiring every musician who walks through the doors.