1963 - 1967

Prince Buster was the man who made the first move into producing a new Jamaican style music for the Jamaican people (after all, he was the Voice Of The People wasnt he?). Its been said that at a particular recording session, Buster instructed the guitarist and drummer to stress the off beat and soon the sound of ska was born. But because Buster didnt own his own studio, he didnt have time to perfect on the beat. Coxsone, however, did.

in 1963, Dodd bought the old Federal Studio 1-track recorder when Federal upgraded to 2-tracks. Dodd had the sound system builder Headley Jones construct the new facility while Dodds cousin, Sid Bucknor installed the recorder. When all was done, Dodd opened the Jamaican Recording and Publishing Studio at 13 Brentford Road . And soon after he launched the Studio One label, the label that is most connected with his name. Almost immediately Dodd began scoring hits with singers like the young Delroy Wilson ("I Shall Not Remove", "Dancing Mood"), Stranger and Ken ("Artibella", "Worlds Fair"), the earliest recordings of the Wailers featuring Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer ("Simmer Down", "Hooligan", "Put It On") as well as so many other singers (Toots and the Maytals, Jackie Opel, The Clarendonians, etc). Studio One became a virtual hit factory.

Plus it didn't hut that Dodd had the islands best musicians recording for him. the drum and bass team of Lloyd Knibb and Lloyd Brevett alongside the guitars of Jah Jerry and Ernest Ranglin and the piano of the teenage maestro Jackie Mittoo rounded out the rhythm section niceley while the saxes of Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso and Lester Sterling meshed perfectly with Johnny "Dizzy" Moore's tumpet and Don Drummonds big trombone sound. The group, calling themselves the Skatalites, recorded some of the best ska songs ever, especially those led by Don Drummond on tunes like "Eastern Standard Time" and "Man In The Street" plus hits like "Guns of Navarone", "Ska-Ba", and "Confusious" also shook things up. So combining such an amazing group of musicians with an amazing group of singers proved to be a winning recipe.

But the ska era of Jamaican music didn't last long and the people at the sound systems decided they wanted something smoother and softer and more soulful than ska. Enter rocksteady. With rocksteady, the tempo of the ska rhythms were slowed down dramatically and the emphasis changed from the horn lines to the grooving electric basslines and lead guitars. Though Coxsone ran things during ska, his main rival Duke Reid, was the major player during rocksteadys run at the top.

That isnt to say though that Coxsone didn't have some nice gems during this period. Though the Skatalites had broken up just after ska ended (due to Don Drummond being sent to Bellevue Mental Asylum after he stabbed his girlfriend to death), Coxsone still held half the guys from the group who started a new, funkier group. They called themselves the Soul Vendors and with Jackie Mittoo's funky electric organ and the Heptone vocalist Leroy Sibbles playing the classic basslines and Roland Alphonso still blowing his sax over the rhythms, the Soul Venders became one of the top recorded groups of the rocksteady era.

Things weren't bad vocally for the Studio One stable either. Leroy Sibbles and his Heptones recorded many classic tunes like "Fattie Fattie" and "Get In The Groove" and Bob Andy released his classic "Song Book" album during this time. Ken Boothe of Stranger and Ken fame was talking into going solo by Coxsone and the fabulous "Mr. Rocksteady" album is the result of that. Not to mention hits by The Gaylads, Delroy Wilson, Alton Ellis and the Soul Vendors instrumental records. So even though the Dukes successes with the Techniques, the Paragons and most of the other smooth as silk vocal groups ensured him the rocksteady crown, Coxsones downbeat wasn't far behind and would make up for it with the next wave of Jamaican music.