Adebayo makes case for old, top recording studios

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Monday, January 14, 2019

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British journalist Dotun Adebayo believes the Jamaican government should renovate top recording studios and make them museums, which would allow it to tap into the lucrative music tourism market. In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, he said Channel One and Studio One would be ideal starting points.

“If there's any criticism of the Jamaican government, that is it. I came here in 1980 and interviewed Flabba Holt at Channel One studio, the Roots Radics were doing some sessions, and I looked at him and said if we should do the interview now. And he said, 'Oh no, in about 15 minutes, we've got about three more sessions to do'. Three more sessions in 15 minutes! That's incredible,” recalled a laughing Adebayo.

The 58-year-old Adebayo was at Mixing Lab studio in Kingston in December where his wife, singer Carroll Thompson, was recording songs with musicians including Holt, founder of the Roots Radics Band. They reminisced about Channel One where the 'Radics' recorded countless hit songs during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

“He said that studio should be a museum, same as Studio One on Brentford Road should be a museum. If you want to do real reggae tourism you wouldn't stick it on the north coast, because this is where reggae started, inna Kingston, Jamaica,” said Adebayo.

Channel One, located off Maxfield Avenue, was ground zero for roots-reggae in the 1970s. Classic songs like I Need A Roof, Woman Is Like A Shadow, Ballistic Affair, MPLA, Shine Eye Girl, Rock 'N' Groove and Lick Shot were recorded there, has been demolished.

Not much recording takes place at Studio One which opened in 1963. With Clement “Coxson” Dodd as main producer, Studio One released countless hit songs by artistes including The Wailers, The Heptones, Alton Ellis, Bob Andy, Dennis Brown, Freddie McGregor, Johnny Osbourne and Sugar Minott.

Adebayo said the Jamaican government should follow the lead of organisations in the United States and Europe, by preserving these landmarks. He pointed out that Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama as well as Stax and Sun studios in Memphis, Tennessee make substantial funds by attracting artistes and tourists.

“If people are still going to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to get that sound, why doesn't Jamaica have that? This is Nashville, Jamaica but we don't' treat it as such,” he said.

Nashville, Tennessee is the home of country music. Famous recording studios in that city are preserved, so too the Grand Ole Opry where every legend in that genre has performed.

There are not many venues commemorating the history of Jamaican popular music. Best known is the Jamaica Music Museum which opened in 2009 at the Institute of Jamaica, downtown Kingston.

Adebayo, who was born in Nigeria, moved to the United Kingdom with his family at age six. He has covered the British music scene for major publications such as The Guardian and The Independent for over 35 years, and has also worked at the BBC.

He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2009.

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