Winston McAnuff is not an artist whose albums you will often find at record shops. He's rather one of the obscure names of Reggae, one you will discover by chance on an old and long forgotten single of yours. But then, you'd better be sitting down before you listen to it because the power and energy of the "Electric Dread" - as they call him - might very well shake you to the bone. Those of you who are lucky enough to know the albums "What A Man A Deal With" and "Pick Hits To Click" will understand exactly what I mean.
Photo & text courtesy of Maka Sound, France.
The son of a preacher, Winston was born in 1957, in the hills of Manchester parish, near Christiana, in Jamaica. His parents were very fond of music and it was only natural for him to sing in church. After his father died in 1971, Winston left his native home and moved to Kingston, where his sister was a teacher. In this new city environment, he became friend with Hugh Mundell, Earl Sixteen and Wayne Wade.
Because he was sure of their talent, he went with them to their first auditions and even wrote some of their first songs, like Earl Sixteen's "Malcolm X", later taken up by Dennis Brown. From 1975 on, after introducing his friends to famous producers such as Joe Gibbs, Derrick Harriott and Yabby You, Winston recorded several songs for Derrick Harriott, which in 1977 gave birth to his first album: "Pick Hits To Click".
Soon after, in 1980, Winston recorded a second album, "What A Man A Deal With", for Top Ranking, label of the group Inner Circle (Ian Lewis and Bernard Touter Harvey). He was very close to Jacob Miller, with whom he shared the same energy and enthusiasm, and was even approached to replace his friend in the band after his tragic death. In 1986, he recorded another album with Inner Circle, "Electric Dread", produced by Keneith Black.
The same year, he created his own band, The Black Kush, along with his brother Tony "Makaruffin" McAnuff - now pursuing his career in Japan where he's been living for 15 years - Anthony Wilson and the bassist Peter Kush. They recorded 2 singles for Channel One, featured in the English documentary "Deep Roots Series" and toured in Europe.
Since then, Winston has played with his children (the eldest being a drummer, the second a D.J. and the youngest a singer) as well as with other young musicians, like the members of Gumption Band, a Kingston band with a solid reputation. He has also travelled a lot. He's been to Japan - where he toured several times with his brother and more recently with Derrick Harriot and Junior Murvin -, to the United States in 1987 - where he co-featured with Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas in "Miami Vice" (episode 72, "The Big Thaw", in which Japanese guys freeze an imaginary equivalent of Bob Marley!!!) -, but also to England, France and anywhere Reggae calls him. Today, he seriously wants to go back to his singing and composing career, so look for new pure roots reggae from this unique and underrated artist, who deserves much more than mere critical success.