The Pioneers of Jamaican Music Speak to Brown Sugar


img_1952Radio programmes in Jamaica continues to be one of the key strengths in local media here.

Whether it’s in the area of current affairs, sports, health, politics, law or music the quality of such radio shows is impressive.

One such programme is  Night Cap “The Stories Behind the Music” on Thursdays on RJR from 8pm – midnight.

Hosted by Heather Grant aka Brown Sugar,  Night Cap – “The Stories Behind the Music” features one-on-one interviews (sometimes 2 guests) with Jamaican singers, musicians, producers who were integral to the development of Jamaican music (ska, rock steady, reggae) from the 1960s onwards.

Yes, the guests are given the whole 4 hours to tell their stories, mixed with the songs they were involved in creating. For the final 2 hours of the show Brown Sugar take calls from the public which have included former class mates and future guests to the show.

Guest to the show have included

  • Singers:  Errol Dunkley, Horace Andy, Max Romeo, Dennis Walks, Derrick Morgan, Tony Gregory, Boris Gardiner, Hugh Brown, Dennis Alcapone, Orville “Bagga” Case, Karen Smith, Pam Hall, Tommy Cowan, Carlene Davies, Derrick Morgan, George Nooks plus Earl Morgan & Leroy Sibbles both of the Heptones
  • Producers: Bunny Lee, Niney, King Jammy
  • Musicians: Sly Dunbar, Joe Isaacs, Lloyd Parks, Robbie Lyn

The stories told are funny, spiritual and at times moving. The guests described the hardships, the good days, funny moments on tour and how the music gave them a sustained purpose in life even today.

From the interviews you hear anecdotes that may not be found written in any books. (Apart from Bob Marley we know there are very few biographies of other Jamaican musical figures).

Anecdotes from the interviews so far included:

  • How Max Romeo initially hated the recording of his controversial U.K. hit “Wet Dream”, until his producer Lee Perry told him to “go sleep” and wait for the public’s reaction.
  • A 15 year old Sly Dunbar played on the U.K. chart topping “Double Barrel” by Dave and Ansell Collins.
  • The pride Lloyd Parks feels even today in having played on some of Dennis Brown’s greatest songs such “Love Has Found It’s Way”.
  • Horace Andy wrote the first lines to Dennis Brown’s “Created By  The Father” and handed it to D Brown as a gift to complete and record.
  • Horace Andy nickname is Sleepy because since childhood he is prone to dosing off easily – even at one of his own gigs when in the front row.
  • Errol Dunkley wrote and sang his first song in 1962 aged 11 produced by the late Prince Buster.
  • Leroy Sibbles (of the Heptones) signed Errol Dunkley to Studio One records.
  • How significant Leroy Sibbles was to Jamaican music.  Sibbles regrets that his impact as a singer, songwriter, producer, musician, arranger and A&R man was never fully documented at the time.
  • Sonia Pottinger was well respected as she was one of the few record producers to pay the singers/musicians on time.
  • The strong influence of the Chinese community in the music business during the 1960s/70s.

One of my funnier moments listening to the show was when Sibbles was told by Brown Sugar that his former Heptones band-mate Earl Morgan will be the guest the following week. Sibbles turned to Brown Sugar and said “Tell him to talk the truth“.

One common theme shared by some of the guests is the  affection and admiration they had for their friend the late Dennis Brown.

Another common thread from the show is how a small area of Kingston (covering Trench Town, Jones Town, Waterhouse) was where many of these musical pioneers spent their childhood and developed their craft.

By the end of each program you can sense how grateful and humble the guests feel being interviewed at such lengths for Jamaicans to hear. As most feel their input in to Jamaican music has been largely ignored and unappreciated in local circles.

I do hope the makers of this brilliant programme promote and share the interviews with other media houses & reggae historians globally.  Especially in Europe and Japan where these musicians are revered like music royalty.

RJR could approach airlines that travel to the Caribbean to suggest including these interviews as part of any in-flight entertainment.

A programme well worth a listen.


Since this blog was first posted Brown Sugar has interviewed the likes of

  • Junior Tucker -His first hits at age 7 had Dennis Brown and Roman Stewart singing backing vocals. Tucker recorded music with Stacy Lattisaw which has never been released.
  • The Silvertones
  • Wayne Armond (Chalice) – biggest hit ‘Still Love You’ was based on the breakup of his marriage
  • Fredlocks – sang at Studio One as part of the short lived group The Lyrics
  • Roland Burrell – distant cousin of singer Shaggy.
  • Johnny Clarke – was highly rated at table tennis
  • Count Prince Miller
  • Carlton Manning (Carlton & The Shoes) – “The Shoes” was a reference to the pride he took keeping his Clarks shoes very neat.
  • The Viceroys – despite being formed in the 1960s they first toured overseas just over a decade ago.



About africanherbsman1967

Funking all over the metaverse
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3 Responses to The Pioneers of Jamaican Music Speak to Brown Sugar

  1. Hope Carruthers says:

    Love this GG. Rjr is paid broadcasting here  too bad. I mostly listen to NCU these days.  Thanks for reminder I will  try to include more Jamaican radio stations. The talk show dem bad -good entertainment  I still use the link you sent me years ago brien radio. Tanks again.

    Regards  Hope C”Your attitude, not your aptitude,will determine your altitude.” Zig Ziglar 

  2. Heather Grant says:

    I’m just seeing your blog.
    Thank you for such a review. I also feel this program needs to be highlighted throughout the various platforms.
    I’m grateful to all the artistes who came and shared their musical journeys and also to RJR for supporting my idea to do so.
    Thank you for listening. For your review and I wish you continued success in your field!
    Blessed love!

    • Heather!
      Thank you for your kind comments! Really made my weekend.
      Congratulations on the success of your unique show.
      I am sure the diaspora and reggae enthusiasts all over the world would find your collection a real treat.
      All the very best.

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