Jacob's Ladder: People...You Are The Reason I Am...

Desmond Dekker

26th May 2006

Reggae legend Desmond Dekker dies

Jamaican ska legend and reggae pioneer Desmond Dekker has died from a heart attack in his UK home, aged 64.

Born Desmond Dacres in Kingston, Jamaica in 1941, he initially worked in a welding shop. By 1961 he started to become noticed and auditioned for several record labels, most notably Leslie Kong's Beverley's label. Dekker had been orphaned as a teen and Beverley's label owner Kong formed a bond with him, providing direction for the young singer's career as well as his life. Jamaican recording star Derrick Morgan took Desmond under his wing at Beverley's. By 1963 Dacres had his first hit in Jamaica, Honour Your Mother And Father.

Dekker went on to form his own group the Aces, which at times included Wilson James and various siblings from the Howard family, including Barry, Carl, Clive and Patrick. After changing his professional name to Dekker, in 1967, he and the group recorded 007 (Shanty Town), which made it to number 14 on the UK chart. From 1967 to 1970 the group had a run of hits in England that included, Rudie Got Soul, Rude Boy Train, Sabotage, It Mek (a song written by Dekker about his younger sister) and You Can Get It If You Really Want (written by Jimmy Cliff). In the midst of this string of success Dekker achieved a goal that had eluded many of the Jamaican singers who had been before him -- a top ten hit in the United States. A reggae song in the ska style titled Israelites stormed the US charts and went onto become number 1 in the UK in 1969.

Writing credits for the song went to Desmond Dacres and Leslie Kong. Get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir, so that every mouth can be fed ... The infectious beat served notice that reggae music coming out of Jamaica had arrived. In the years to come reggae songs by other performers such as Johnny Nash and Bob Marley would capitalize on the opening that had been created by Desmond Dekker.

In 1971 Dekker suffered a severe blow when his friend and mentor Leslie Kong sustained a heart attack and died. The string of hits dwindled to almost nothing for a time, but the group did manage another big hit in England in 1975 with Sing A Little Song, a year that also saw Israelites return to the UK top ten.

Desmond Dekker continued to perform, record and play dates all over the world. A number of albums were also issued, some of them recorded during his years at Beverley's.

You can contact stromectolice.com at:

e-mail: [email protected]
post: stromectolice.com, po box 100, moreton-in-marsh, gloucestershire GL56 0ZX.
fax: 01608 652814