Friday, May 26, 2006

RIP Rude Boy

Desmond Dekker, living legend of reggae, ska and rocksteady, died of a heart attack in London on Wednesday night. Dekker was 64 years old. Born Desmond Adolphus Dacres in Kingston, on July 16, 1941, Dekker and his backing group the Aces (consisting of Wilson James and Easton Barrington Howard), had the first international Jamaican hit with Israelites. Other hits include 007 (Shanty Town), from 1967, and It Mek (1969).
Orphaned as a teenager, Dekker began working as a welder, singing around his workplace while his coworkers encouraged him.
Until 1967, Dekker's songs, including Parents, Get Up Edina, This Woman and Mount Zion. were polite and conveyed mainstream messages. In that year, however, he appeared on Morgan's Tougher Than Tough, which marked the beginning of the rude boy craze. Dekker's own songs did not go to the extremes of many other popular tunes, though he did introduce lyrics which resonated with the rude boys, starting with the aforementioned 007 (Shanty Town). The song established Dekker as a rude boy icon, and helped him become a leading figure in the British mod scene.

Dekker continued with songs in the same vein, such as Rude Boy Train and Rudie Got Soul, as well as continuing with his previous themes of religion and morality in songs like It's a Shame, Wise Man, Unity, It Pays, and Sabotage. His Pretty Africa is among the earliest popular songs to promote repatriation. »

He had been due to perform at the Respect Festival in Prague on 2 June, and numerous dates across Europe during the summer.
His last concert was at Leeds Metropolitan University on 11 May.

I saw him on stage two times during the eighties and he was among the most impressive live acts I ever saw.

He will be missed.

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