After the first invasion in the early 1970's of recording deejays U Roy, King Stitt, Dennis Alcapone, Samuel the First and Winston Scotland, amongst others, a second wave was slowly coming up making their names in Jamaican dancehalls; Dillinger, Prince Jazzbo, I Roy, Hugh Roy Jr, Lloyd Young, Ramon, and a young man who was to become a household name for the remainder of the decade, Tapper Zukie. But Tapper made his name while stationed in England in the early seventies by a bunch of remarkable singles and later the 'MPLA' album released on the Virgin label, as well as - in the new role as it turned out - a very fine producer of some superb records by artists like Prince Alla, Junior Ross & The Spears and Errol Dunkley, to name only three. Thanks to Zukie, Mike Brooks, Trish (Roots Rockers Promotions), Carlton Hines, Tim P, Russ Bell-Brown, David Corio, Steve Barrow, and Donovan Phillips.


Q: Your family lived somewhere between Trench Town and Greenwich Town, you're born there and that's where you grew up for the most part?

A: Yeah, I was growing up... I was born in Waltham Park Road and moved to Greenwich Town and grew up between Greenwich Town and Trench Town.

Q: How was that community in those days?

A: Well, the community wasn't violent like now as it goes on, 'cause in my time we used to go out to dance and have a lot of fun. I started by playing a sound system, or what they called 'discoteque'. I was so small that they had to put me on a beer box.

Q: (Chuckles)

A: Yeah. And a lot of people thought I was a great lickle deejay. And in those time we didn't have a lot of deejays. The deejays that was around was like U Roy, I Roy, Big Youth, Dennis Alcapone, and Prince Jazzbo come along. Those time I was like the firs' lickle boy deejay.

Q: Long before Beenie.

A: Long, long time, looooong, long time.

Tapper Zukie

Q: How was family life in that time, you were quite a rebellious youth?

A: Yeah, well, I was growing up, my parents, they weren't together as two, a married couple. Well, they used to work, like, operate a stall, a market stall, and also a bar.

Q: And your brother, Blackbeard (not to be confused with Dennis Bovell, also known as 'Blackbeard' at the time), he was also musically inclined?

A: Yeah, Blackbeard... Well, he started in the business before I do, y'know. Blackbeard, he started out with Bunny Lee, he and Bunny used to get along. Well, when I used to play sound system, I lotta rude boy follow the sound, so they used to say I was the number one deejay for that sound. They used to do like... The parents think I was getting involved with wrong company, and that's where Blackbeard and Bunny Lee come in and they send me away to England. When I come to England I used to play the sound and didn't have anything to do and just start record, because my first recording was in England.

Q: Was that 'Viego'?

A: My first song was 'Man A Warrior'.

Q: Ah, I thought it was 'Viego', flipside was 'A Message To Pork Eaters' or something.

A: No, 'Man A Warrior' came out before 'Viego'. Actually the firs' song record was 'Jump & Twist', but 'Man A Warrior' was the first one and the following was 'Viego'.

Q: Before we continue with the 'English chapter', why did your parents kick you out of the house? As far as I understood it it was in your late teens, wasn't it?

A: It's true I used to follow these sounding systems, and every time I go and come it was a problem. But I loved the music and proud of the music more than anything else, I had to lef' the gate, the home. That's when I went away in the ghetto area to live away from the... you know?

Q: So it wasn't much in terms of homework, you preferred to hang out during daytime and go to the dances in the area whenever one was on?

A: Yes, yes, yes. That was the big problem. I had to leave home.

Q: How was that? You weren't even fifteen at the time...

A: No, I was around twelve year old, yunno.

Q: Only twelve?

A: Very young, was around twelve year old when I start leaving home.


Q: You stayed over at a relative's house?

A: No, I used to stay by a friend of mine's home, his mom and my mom was friends. And sometime when they came it really get to me, they just give me a break because they know I live by this guy's home.

Q: Then you joined the gang called the 'Zukies'. This is when the rude boy phenomenon started to mushroom around Kingston in the mid sixties, it wasn't as many gangs before that as during that time?

A: Gangs was there from I was a boy, y'know. Because from I was a lickle boy you did have gangs, the toughest and the roughest. Gangs was around in them times.

Q: But to even join a gang, what was that about? Was it just about belonging to something, role models, or what was the 'mechanisms' there?

A: Well, is not really the gang as such, as the gang who go out and make trouble on the road and do mafia t'ings. We're just school boys runnin' around and we're school gangsters. At school, you're projectin' one another in this lickle gang. If you touch one you touch all of us.

Q: Against the establishment?

A: No, it wasn't against, like, the police, it was just the school runnings.


Q: Or the bullies...

A: Yeah, but they class us as the bully at school (chuckles).

Q: OK, that's how it goes. Regarding the music now, what did you listen to at home, what did you grow up with?

A: Yeah, well, I grew up listening to ska and rock steady and those type of music, Don Drummonds, Tommy McCook and Delroy Wilson. The rock steady and the ska till it come on to reggae, so we could be a part of the reggae.

Q: So what appealed to you about deejaying?

A: Well, really when I started out I start out by playing drums, y'know.

Q: Yeah?

A: Yeah. I used to play drums for a lickle band they have name The Supremes, and y'know Leroy 'Horsemouth' (Wallace), he was the bigger drummer, but me and him couldn't get along ca' I didn't leave him alone at the drum. You know 'bout Horsemouth?

Q: Yes.

A: Well, the sounding systems... From me a lickle bwoy me used to listen to King Stitt and dem man deh, U Roy, and dem was the centre of attraction. So me wanted to be the centre of attraction, so I think I jus' jump on the box and just do a t'ing. Couldn't reach the amplifier but I jus' stand up on the box an' hold a mic an' just talk.


Q: But you never got to record anything while in Jamaica? There was never an opportunity?

A: No, never gave me an opportunity, yunno.

Q: But those two sounds you toasted for, the Mackabees and...

A: It was one sound, y'know, it was a discoteque but the name of the owner name was Mackabee. Yeah.

Q: They never produced for themselves?

A: No, they wasn't producing.

Q: A local sound in Greenwich Town.

A: Yeah, right.

Q: And then it was the case of being sent over to the UK. How was that, sent over to a place like England as such a young man?

A: Well, it was an experience, and it was a good experience. Well, actually I heard about people playing and keep flying up and down and well wanted a plane drive so it was very welcome. So when they said they're sending me there I think I was happy about it.

Tapper Zukie

Tapper Zukie

Q: When did you come, like in the middle of the winter, snow and stuff?

A: No, when I come here it was sunny.

Q: So, musically, the first link-up in the business, that was Larry Lawrence, the Ethnic Fight label.

A: Yeah.

Q: With 'Jump & Twist'.

A: Yes, it was a stage show I went, a U Roy stage show, and producer Bunny Lee meet up with Larry Lawrence. That's how it came about, the connection there.

Q: How did the records do in general, if you can recall?

A: Well, when it came out in those days I wouldn't keep track on how good it would do, just wanted to put myself in the studio and be the centre of attraction. As you go along and the thing grows you have to come jus' like you're the star and keep up to date, that's the way you come in the business.


Q: Then you cut the debut album for Clem Bushay, 'Man A Warrior' in about 1974.

A: Well, that album is just in England and I've nutten to do, just come to Englan' and I had to find somet'ing to do. I guess that's the easiest thing for me to do at the time.

Q: How do you look back on that album?

A: Well, feel good 'bout it.

Q: I think it was reissued a couple of years ago by Trojan.

A: By Trojan, yes.

Q: When it was released, I believe Count Shelly was the first one to issue it?

A: Yeah, first when it came out it was Shelly who put out the album, it came out and it did really well. Then it was picked up by Patti Smith.

Q: How did that happen?

A: OK. I was on tour over here and this guy Don Letts was runnin' a record shop down in the West End, and he talk to this lady when she came into the shop and say she want to come in contact with me. So she tell him to bring me down at the Hammersmith Odeon. And he call my friend Militant Barry and hook up with me and say Patti Smith want us to come down to Hammersmith Odeon, so we went. And when we went down there I saw this lady. And she just bowed down in front of me and said "Man, when I see you, man, it's like seeing James Brown".

Patti Smith
Q: (Chuckles)

A: She said she learned to play 'pon record from my album, 'Man A Warrior'. So she walk me out on the stage in front of about five thousand people and bow down in front of me and tell them that she learnt to play music from my album. (Chuckles) And when she see me it's like it's James Brown, and she wanted me to say a couple words for her fans... which I did. And it went on from there. So after then she asked me to support. She was doing three shows in the Rainbow Theatre, she asked me to support them which I did. So we started to correspond from there till she asked me to allow her to put that LP on her label, Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye, which I did and that's where it start roll.

Q: That was on the MER imprint I think.

A: I think so.

Q: So she only put it out in the States?

A: Well, actually I don't really know the territory she did put it out in, I only know she put it out.

Q: That kinda boosted your career somewhat.

A: Yeah, well, it did. It did.

Q: So it wasn't any connection after that?

A: Well, after that I went to the States for me and her to link up. She had a lickle family dispute when she gave the music a break for a while to settle the deal with that. And then from there... you know?

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