Evolution of Reggae: its roots run deep


From salsa and marangue, soca and calypso; The Caribbean has long been a cauldron of international music in The 1960s, ska, The jazz-influenced music that dominated Jamaica, evolved slowly, and slowed down into one of The most influential music styles from the islands: reggae.

Although therewere many artists experimenting with unhurried tones mixed with Rastafari spirituality, dailylife and struggles of poverty, none was as influential the Wailers. Originally formed asa Ska group; they trail blazedthe development of reggae. With the help of producers like Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, and led by icons Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, the band expanded Jamaica’s global musical influence, which peaked in the 1970s.

A second wave of reggae left the warm Caribbean and hit the more northern (and much colder) islands of the United Kingdom. England’s economic struggles late 1970s led to aggressive punk music; a faster, less structured version of rock. Punk’s focus on the urban struggles, resistance to government and political oppression was very similar to reggae’s and the two very distinct music styles began to foster each other. Leading influential punk band, The Clash, began incorporating reggae beats and rhythms, and reggae continued to grow. The Police originally formed as a reggae-influenced band. Soon the reggae-ska movement gave birth to rude boys, The Specials, English Beat and The Selecter. Heavily produced, reggae contemporary, UB40 went mainstream, creating new fans globally. With plenty of islander transplants such as Pato Banton, England’s roots with Jamaica have always shown through, but the irie vibe was already growing across the pond.

Just as Punk music grew organically and independently in New York City, reggae also grew in the island communities of the Big Apple. California’s surf and hippie culture provided fertile soil for the island sound. When famous recording start Eek-A- Mouse relocated to San Diego the writing was on the wall. Reggae had taken root on both coasts.

Even though the Caribbean islands continue to be the heart of the reggae movement, it has now gone global. Constant concert touring of icons, Burning Spear, Yellowman, Black Uhuru, Third World, and Steel Pulse have created millions of fans from Europe to Japan. Today, a new breed of reggae continues to sweep the world. The music from Groundation, Matisyahu, Slightly Stoopidand Rebelution, brings in a new generation of fans.


STUART MAYHEW Mayhew is an avid music fan who is always looking to catch
a live show wherever he may be in the world. He understands how music connects people and reflects society and culture. Through an understanding where music comes from and how it evolves, we get a clearer understanding of the world: and sometimes a bit of a hangover.