The wealth of musical talent found in Jamaica is staggering, the Caribbean island is even world-renown for it. Since the earliest days of Jamaica's popular music in the late fifties/early sixties when Ska ruled the dance halls, many Jamaican artists have risen from obscurity to worldwide fame, but even more of them have never managed to achieve notable success on an international level and remained local heroes. One of them is General Plough, an artist who is often mislabeled as being a DJ/Toaster, but he's clearly a singer.


Q: Greetings General

A: Greetings my friend

Q: I'm going to ask you a few questions to make the people know more about your experience in reggae music. Let's begin with how you started your musical career?

A: Alright my friend. It all began thanks to my aunt, Moley Isachar, please quote her name and make the people know about her doings for the community, because this woman is an angel. I was hanging around her place when I was a youth because I never knew my mother (she died when I was 6 months old and I saw her only on a picture - she is the most beautiful woman to me still) and father, so my grandma and people from my family used to take care of me. My aunt is a member of the Twelve Tribes and a cook. So she used to cook, bake cakes and prepare ital juices for the whole community living in the neighborhood of Trenchtown (she still takes care of her other place on Kings House Road). The Wailers used to play ball not far from there and when they needed force again... that's where they used to gather round... that's how I got into music! I was around 7 at that time and was interested in what they were doing. They used to like my voice so they were willing to teach me how to sing. At that time they were not really big and it meant singing in candence cans to add echo voice or use buckets and cheese pans for drums. The Wailers were not the only people I learned from. Amongst the people that used to come by my aunt there were many soundmen like E.T, Bob Andy, Marcia Griffith, Jacob Miller. Jacob Miller is the next man I learned from... he was also a member of the Twelve Tribes and bigger than Bob Marley at that time. Even Bob used to sing using his band... Inner Circle. Jacob Miller taught me to sing and same time he liked to sing the songs I was writing. One of them became a big hit... "Jolly Joseph". I was going to get the opportunity to sing for his band as well, but he left us same time. After him I linked with Larry Marshall in the same community around Barbican. He is, my friend, the first reggae writer, singer and star in Jamaica. I'm giving it to you like it is... the truth. With Larry Marshall I had the opportunity to learn play guitar. And those are basically the people that made me come into music and that I used to work with in my beginnings.
Q: Where does your artist name come from?

A: Well... that name came later on when the Wailers moved from Trenchtown to Hope Road (thanks to Chris Blackwell). I was then the youngest element of their camp. I used to be there and learning from them. One day they were building a fence in the back yard. People like Family Man, Ranglin, Frater (that man had shaking hands and mimics but he was one of the wickedest guitarists around). I was between 7 and 9 and I grabbed a big metal bar to dig a hole like I saw them doing. Tosh said: "Wha - the likkle man can plough the ground - so gwaan plough man." I never did it before and the metal was so heavy that I just fell down with the bar upon me. Tosh gave me a hand and started to call me plough from that day ironically. At the same time he had much affection for me. I asked him why he kept on calling me plough after a while. He told me: "Because you re just like that : P for people - L for love - O for observation - U for unity - G for generation (I was the next one) - H for the healing of the nation." From that day on I honored that name.

Q: What were your first recordings?

A: My first recording is "Back Biter" for Musical Ambassador in 1979. I was between 7 and 9. And this first tune hit the charts! It took me some time to be able to record my first tune but it finally paid. I recorded then a next tune called "This Society"! It hit the charts again, but they banned it from the radios because of its content. It was still alright because I made a buzz already and lots of producers were willing to work with me. I recorded "Armagedeon War" for Aquarius (Herman Chin Loy), "She's Gone", two big hits... "Golden Chalics", produced myself and Beanny Gayle and released on 45 and 12 inch, "I Need Your Love" produced by myself and distributed by King Culture in Canada. I had many international links, like Clappers that did release one of my LP.
Q: That is almost the same as "Midnight Rock". Can you talk about that LP?

A: Yes, that is the first LP I recorded - I was 9 at that time.

Q: But you look older on the cover?

A: You'll see an actual picture of me on the other side. That is an artwork of Jah Wise, the brother of Cornell Campbell, and the man that helped me get this album altogether. Lot of people helped me at that time and that was my real beginning. I was the next generation from the Wailers camp. That's how I show them a tribute with a picture of Bob Marley on every LP that I make (you can notice the one cartoon representing Marley on this LP). And with the cover of Bob Marley's tune "Keep On Moving". I was there when he recorded that tune. Junior Murvin was the guitarist when Bob began to sing that song. I was young and could not get the meaning of that tune, but I was feeling like really moved by that tune. It has been my motto after Bob and many other friends left us.


General Plough.
Q: What have you been doing next?

A: Well... Like I told you I was really close to people like Jacob Miller and Bob Marley. Those are the people that were to push me forward. But unfortunately they disappeared some times after I began to step in the place. My songs remained 6 months in charts and were taken off by Black Uhuru with "Shine Eye Gal". I still then kept on recording and working with the same Michael Rose from Black Uhuru for example, but things went slower. I could have linked up with somebody like Chris Blackwell during Bob's time but I never wanted to show disrespect to the Wailers and was waiting for my time. I still had the opportunity to work in the music businness and did almost whatever I could do because of my knowledge of this music. That made me keep on working with Peter Tosh at Dynamics, Beres Hammond, Sly & Robbie at Channel One studio.. Jojo and Ernest Hoo Kim gave me access to all their materials to build riddims for people like Barry Brown, Brent Dowe, Michael Prophet, Sugar Minott, Sammy Dread, Philip Frazer, Max Romeo, Peter Ranking and General Lucky...

Q: What are the outstanding songs of your repertoire?

A: Hmm. I have already quoted "Armagedeon War" that is a dubmaster. I think about "Oh Jean", big hit written by another person (I dont remember his name) and me. "One More River To Cross" recorded at Tuff Gong (thanks to the Marley family) for Black Originator Label. It was owned by me and Mr Epp. I wished I could see him again and that he never died. A true friend. He was giving me help when I got my first baby. I was working with my friend Anthony Blackwood and Larry Marshall for him. And that's under this label that I recorded my other dubmaster "The Toughest".
Q: Cut on the Cuss Cuss riddim, when you became "the toughest" at that time?

A: I'm still the toughest my youth. Yes, Sly & Robbie built that riddim. It has been recut lately for Dave Kelly under Shocking Vibes. That tune remains but a cultural tune for me. I still represent the next generation at that time. It was to show the youth how strong you can be and how far the Almighty can make you reach. It has been covered many times, but mine is the original !

Q: What are you doing right now?

A: Well As you can see it's 2008 and I'm still there doing my things. I've done many things during the while : I helped to build several places (bars, restaurants). I built my own sound system, Ruckus Sound, and I kept on recording. I finally managed to get in touch with Musical Ambassador, my first label, in order to release a LP called the "Great Hits" (the greatest hits to follow). I intend to write a book about my history in reggae music. And like you see I'm still building a next place with these youths. I Plough the soil and plant a lot of food. That is great my friend.

Q: Give thanks General.
(Note from Reggae Vibes: The ages mentioned by General Plough in this interview in relation to concrete events must be wrong. He says he was 9 when he recorded the "Midnight Rock" LP that appeared in 1983. That means he must have been born between 1972 and 1974. But then he says that he was there when Bob Marley recorded "Keep On Moving", however this song was originally released in 1972! He also refers to the picture at the back of the LP, but that's definitely not the photo of a 9 year old boy. It's more likely he was between 16 and 18 years old when "Midnight Rock" was released, because he says that he was between 7 and 9 when the Wailers moved to Hope Road, and that was in 1974!)
Interview (January 31, 2008): Redlion DJ
(Please do not reproduce without permission)




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