Skatalites Go Into Orbit

From the Star Newspaper, June 27, 1964.

The following article appeared in the June 27, 1964 issue of the Star Newspaper with the headline, “Skatalites Go Into Orbit.” The article by Lloyd Davis states, “Whether it was ska-ing ‘On Broadway,’ painting a ‘Ska-trait of my love’ or just plain ‘I’m in the mood for Ska’ there was something for every taste at Bournemouth on Wednesday night when Tommy McCook and the Ska-Talites went into orbit. It was just the shot in the arm the Bournemouth needed to revive this once popular night spot. The dance floor was a sea of heads bobbing up and down in ska tempo. Any physical training instructor would have been proud of the hand movements. It seems as if diets will be out soon, for the Ska could well pull that extra pound from the tummy area. Jamaicans all know of ‘Carry go, bring come’ but wait until you hear it set to music in the Ska beat. It’s a different kettle of fish. For the past few weeks, the band have taken over Bournemouth and have kept the place alive. Roland Alphonso on tenor sax, Don Drummond on trombone (when he sits in), leader Tommy McCook on tenor sax, Lloyd Brivett [sic.] bass, Lloyd Knibbs [sic.] drums, Johnny Moore trumpet, and Lester Sterling, alto sax and trumpet combine to produce a sound that’s great.”

Tommy McCook is the man who launched them:

“In 1962 a young musician returned to his island home after spending a few years in England and the United States. This young man, having wide experience in jazz music, linked up with a local group of jazzmen and started to make a name for himself. He was Tommy McCook. Tommy, who was then an authentic jazz musician and an increasingly popular artist, was invited by Messrs. Coxon [sic.] and Randy, to do recording for them, but for McCook, jazz was not to be given second place for SKA (which at the time was of very little significance). Roland Alfonso [sic.], who was doing recording for Coxon [sic.] and Randy left the island and also a vacant space for a recording artist which could only be filled by someone as proficient as Tommy McCook. It was at this stage that he decided to enter the recording scene and he did so with terrific force. One of his first record releases was ‘DOWNBEAT’ which was a hit, and he then went on to make his next hit ‘Road Block,’ a Ska instrumental. This release projected McCook to the front rank of leading recording artists where he was in constant demand by Ska Lords like Randy, Tip Top, Duke Kid [sic.], and Prince Buster. Today Ska as it should be played is produced by the talented musicians who are not attached to any particular band. Tommy McCook is one of these musicians. He realised that the Ska boom was being heard all over Jamaica and in other parts of the world and he organised his fellow musicians and formed a new Group called the SKATALITES. The SKATALITES have made four public appearances so far and have made a good impression.”

skatalites at uwi

This article, which appeared in the Star Newspaper just two days later on June 29, 1964, provided a photographic account of one of those performances that the Ska-Talites made at the University of the West Indies, presumably at Mona. The top left photo shows Tommy McCook performing with the caption, “Tommy McCook, leader of the Ska-Talites, intent on his interpretation as the Skatalites play for the University’s undergrads.” The next photo bears the caption, “Press along, in various stances, ska-ites ‘dig the hot beat’ of Tommy McCook and the ‘Ska-talites.'” Below a photograph of a woman doing the “Wash Wash” appears, the song that Prince Buster made famous at the 1964 World’s Fair with the dance moves to correspond. Two ska dancers appear above the caption, “Getting With It, two respond to the ‘Skatalites’ keen sound during ‘Ska-talites Night’ at the University Students’ Union.” The two photos at the bottom feature a group shot of the band with the caption, “The men with the big sound: ‘The Skatalites’ at the Students’ Union of the University of the West Indies on Wednesday night last ‘Skatalites Night’ during the University’s ‘Festival Week.’ From left Johnny Moore (trumpet) Lord Tanamo (guitar), Roland Alphonso (Tenor Saxophone), Loyd Knibbs [sic.] (drums), Lester Sterling (alto saxophone), Lloyd Brevet [sic.] (bass), and leader Tommy McCook. Absent on the night was Don Drummond.” The next photo features a dancer with the caption, “‘Oh, Ah Can’t Take No More,’ this ska-ite seems to say.”

Don Drummond’s absence, incidentally, could be due to a number of circumstances. One, he could have been struggling with mental health issues, though he was not likely in Bellevue at this time, but more likely is a second scenario–while Don Drummond was certainly a member of the Skatalites, and a crucial member at that, he was also a widely recognized solo performer as well. In fact, that same month he headlined as a solo performer at Johnson’s Drive-Inn where he was billed as “Mr. Ska himself.” He appeared that same night with Margarita “Rhumba Queen,” so the point is that it is possible that Drummond may have had another engagement, or he simply turned this engagement down. We can only speculate with educated guesses at this point. Six months after this performance, Margarita would be dead, murdered at the hands of Don Drummond.


skatalites tour

The following article appeared in the Star Newspaper the following month on August 20, 1964 with the headline, “The Ska-talites to tour Island.” The article reads, “Tommy McCook and the Ska-Talites will be performing in a series of stage shows at the Appleton ‘SKA-TA-RAMA’ presented by J. Wray & Nephew Ltd. at certain theatres. The Ska-Talites will be accompanied on the tour by The Maytals (with their theme song ‘Pain in My Belly’) and Maria Cordero, Dominican Republican rhumba dancer. Opening in St. Ann’s Bay in the Seville Theatre Monday August 31; Highgate, Movies Theatre, Tuesday, September 1; Port Antonio, Delmar Theatre, Wednesday, September 2; Old Harbour, Reo Theatre, Thursday, September 3. Kingston, Majestic Theatre. Sunday, September 6; Duncans, Crest Theatrem, Monday, September 7; Santa Cruz, Santa Theatre, Tuesday, September 8; Mandeville Tudor Theatre, Wednesday, September 9; Linstead, Theatre Royal, Thursday, September 10; and into Kingston at the Ritz Theatre Sunday, September 13. Other supporting artistes will be Hortense Ellis, Pluggy and Beryl, Ranny Willians, Alton Ellis, Don Drummond, Roland Alfonso [sic.], Sonny Bair, Delroy Wilson and other top local artistes. There will be free bottles of Appleton Rum given away to lucky ticket holders at each theatre.”

Below are two advertisements from these Ska-Ta-Rama shows.

Daily Gleaner, September 2, 1964:



Daily Gleaner, September 3, 1964:



Real Dance Crasher

From the Daily Gleaner, September 20, 1961.

This article from the Daily Gleaner, Septemner 20, 1961, tells of a real dance crasher. It was uncovered by my friend and colleague Roberto Moore, an extraordinary historian of Jamaican music. We’ve heard the stories of the violence and pilfering at the hands of opposing thugs, rude boys associated with competitive sound system operators. Lloyd Bradley in his brilliant book, This is Reggae Music: The Story of Jamaica’s Music, writes about these dance crashers and the ones assembled by Duke Reid. “They were there, he maintained, for his protection as he claimed he’s made so many enemies as a policeman that his life was permanently under threat, but really it was anybody else’s set who needed protection from his crew. Their main function was one of aggression, storming rivals’ lawns punching, stabbing and kicking indiscriminately, frightening off the crowd and aiming to get to the rig and cut wires, smash amplifiers, hack at speaker boxes and upend turntables. Maybe even snatch the box of records.”

Here is what appears to be evidence of one of those examples of thievery, a real dance crasher who stole three of Coxsone Dodd’s exclusive tunes where they were played at a competitor’s dance. The article reads: “A young man who heard a sound system playing records he had reason to believe were the property of his employer, told his employer, who brought in the police. In consequence, Herman Moore, 48 of 66B Love Lane, was arrested by Cons. A.D. Redley of the Fletcher’s Land Police and charged with the theft of three records valued at 15 pounds, the property of Clement Bodd, [sic. Dodd], owner of the Coxson Sound System of 22, Beeston Street, Kingston. The police said the Bodd [sic. Dodd] missed the records on September 3. Chancellor Eccles of 155 Church Street, heard the records being played the following day and informed his employer, knowing that the records were the only ones in use in the island. They had not yet been released for sale to the public.”

Could this Chancellor Eccles be Clancy Eccles? It is likely since Clancy worked with Coxsone Dodd during these years. In David Katz’s outstanding book Solid Foundation, Eccles states, “In early 1960, Coxsone had a talent hunt. It was sixty of us and I was a runner-up by I was the first one that Coxsone recorded out of that crop. I did ‘Freedom’ and ‘I Live And I Love.’ Around eight months later I did ‘River Jordan,’ ‘More Proof’ and quite a lot of other tracks.” Katz says that Eccles recorded with Coxsone until late 1961 and that he didn’t record anything for three years after that because he was under contract with Coxsone and, unlike all the other artists, didn’t want to break the contract and incite trouble.

It is fascinating to imagine the scene, what records were stolen, who may have spun the spoils. What are your thoughts?

Skatalites Reorganized in 1975


It is well known that the Skatalites disbanded in 1965 despite their trying to stay together for a few months in the wake of Margarita’s murder at the hands of Don Drummond. They came back together briefly in 1975 to support bass player Lloyd Brevett in the studio for his African Roots album which was finally released in 1997 by Moon Ska Records and it is a fine body of work. But I was surprised to find that they not only came together this year to record, but they also performed live at a public event called the Peoples’ Ball along with the Cimarons. The event took place on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1975 at the National Arena.

Daily Gleaner, January 3, 1976.

The article in the Daily Gleaner on January 3, 1976 reads: Swing Magazine’s ‘Peoples Ball’ Wednesday night drew a half hall of people, most of whom were enthusiastic to hear the sounds of a reorganized 1975 Skatalites band. The band featured Lester Sterling, Roland Alphonso, and Tommy McCook, leader, on saxophones, Lloyd Brevett on bass, Jah Jerry on rhythm guitar, and Roland’s son Junior on drums and Gladstone Anderson on keyboards. There were no trombones, probably owing to the inability of finding a replacement for the late, great Don Drummond. On trumpets was an unidentified member of local recording band, the Soul Syndicate. Lester, who is in the island with the Buccaneers band from New York was a surprise guest artist, as he was appearing with his group at the St. Andrew Club. The audience at the Arena went wild with the sound of the new Skatalites and the dancing of the well received Pam Pam and Partner, who performed to the music of ‘Far East.’ The Skatalites included in their repertoire hits like ‘Eastern Standard Time,’ ‘Ska Goes Latin,’ and ‘Lee Harvey Oswald,’ tunes that captured the interest of the audience but never matched the old Skatalites, probably because there was no trombonist on the show.” The article continues with discussion of the award ceremony at the event and other holiday performances.


The Skatalites went on to reform again for that now historic show in 1983 at Sunsplash. Journalist Richard Johnson writes in the June 15, 2012 issue of the Jamaica Gleaner about this reunion. “The group disbanded in 1965, some members have died, there is no direct contact for the living members and some of the surviving bandmates don’t even speak to each other. However, for Syngery director Ronnie Burke, it was the ultimate challenge, and he thought: ‘Why not?’ ‘For our fifth anniversary we wanted to do something really special for our patrons. So we arrived at the idea of presenting the old and new faces of Jamaican music,’ Burke tells Splash. For the new, Synergy brought in Musical Youth — the young band of second-generation Jamaicans based in Britain, who had hit the airwaves with Pass The Dutchie, their rework of the The Mighty Diamonds hit Pass the Kutchie, as well as their collaboration with disco diva Donna Summer on Unconditional Love. The ‘old face’ of the music would be represented by the disbanded Skatalites. So Burke and his team, with the help of music insider Herbie Miller, set about trying to locate the members of the band, one by one, to convince them to get together for the event. ‘I first made contact with the drummer Lloyd Knibbs [sic.]. He was very enthusiastic about the prospects of taking to the stage as the Skatalites once again,’ Burke remembers. ‘It was then on to meet with Jah Jerry and then Lloyd Brevett,’ he continues. Burke clearly remembers his meeting with bass player Brevett, who died on May 3 [2012]. ‘We got word that he was working as a mason on the construction of the Conference Centre in downtown Kingston. We found him covered in cement on the site, and he put paper on my car seat before he sat down for us to talk. We told him about the plans and immediately he was on board.’ Synergy would soon hit a bump in the road to having the Skatalites on the Sunsplash Stage. It was realised that one of the major problems with reuniting the Skatalites was the fact that Tommy McCook and Johnny Moore had not spoken to each other in nearly 20 years. Burke recalls: ‘I was familiar with Dizzy Johnny (Moore) and took him to meet McCook at his house in Harbour View. Both men just sat staring at each other for what seemed like hours before the ice was finally broken and all agreed that they were getting old and should just go ahead and stage the reunion for Sunsplash.’ The Skatalites were booked and took to the stage at the Bob Marley Performing Centre at Freeport in Montego Bay. If Burke and his team have any regrets it is that the band was scheduled to perform too late and the audience was already somewhat weary and looking forward to the headline acts. ‘They gave a fantastic performance. It was well worth the effort it took to put them back together. What is great is that based on the Sunsplash performance it brought the group back together and they are still touring. It was a landmark for us at Synergy and if anyone should ask what am I most proud of it would have to be bringing the Skatalites back together.'”

Doreen Shaffer told me of this reunion as well. She remembers, “I was still living in Jamaica and I think it was the Sunsplash organizers, they were the ones who got in touch with them (the members of The Skatalites) in some way and I was informed that they were going to come down for Sunsplash and they wanted me to be a part of it. But everybody was away. I hadn’t seen them for a good while. So that was quite exciting, meeting everybody again. But I didn’t get back with them until I got to the U.S. Sunsplash was in ’83, but they went on to London and I wasn’t a part of that.” Shaffer moved to the U.S. in 1992 after living in Jamaica her entire life. When Shaffer arrived in the U.S., word of her presence quickly spread to the members of The Skatalites and Coxsone’s wife facilitated the reunion. “Ms. Dodd took me down to Central Park. They were having some concert. They were part of this festival and she took me directly because she knew where to find them and she was the one who took me there. So I was happy, meetin’ and greetin’. So we decided, they said, ‘Well, you are here now, you’ve got to work with us,’” Shaffer says.

The Skatalites continue to tour together under the management and tireless dedication of Ken Stewart. And a new generation of Alpha Boys School alumni under the direction of Bandmaster Sparrow Martin continue to perform the Skatalites music under the name Ska Rebirth. See info on this group HERE .

A Message to You from Dandy Livingstone!


On January 7th, I had the honor of interviewing one of Jamaican music’s biggest legends, Dandy Livingstone, perhaps known best for this classic song, “Rudy, A Message to You,” recorded in 1967 for the Ska Beat label, which was subsequently covered by The Specials during the 2Tone era. Livingstone has built a career of his own, recording for a number of labels including Ska Beat and Trojan, as well as producing countless other artists throughout the 1960s and 1970s including The Cimarons, The Marvels, Owen Gray, and Tony Tribe on his classic, “Red Red Wine.”


Robert Livingstone Thompson was born on December 14, 1943 and he lived in the Kencot neighborhood of Kingston, Jamaica. “I had a small family. I’m an only child. My mom was a seamstress, draperies and things like that. My father, he worked with the railway corporation. My mother migrated to London before me in 1958 and I joined her in ’59. I finished school in London,” he says. His love for music started as a child. “Music was always around me. My father used to play 78 records, mainly jazz and ballads. From then I’ve always been a rhythm and blues jazz man. My collection of jazz music is strong.” Livingston is also a first cousin to Ansel Collins, though the two weren’t close growing up. He explains, “My mom was a very independent woman. She wasn’t into too much mixing with relatives, not selfish or anything, just private, like myself. But I used to see other kids around the place and we didn’t think of music then and I didn’t know he [Ansel Collins] was a musician until 1969. I found out that he played keyboard.”

Livingstone says that it was when he was in school that he developed this love for music even further. “I was going to school in London, technical college. I learned engineering and toolmaking. While in school, all of these Jamaican songs were abundant. As a teenager, it was music. That was all I wanted to do.”


It was during these school years that Livingstone made a friend that would change the rest of his life—Lee Gopthal, founder of Trojan Records. Livingstone explains, “Lee Gopthal was an accountant by profession. He got involved in those days in mail order records. He had this mail order thing going. One day I went down to visit a friend of mine who was a professional musician. He had a group that was rehearsing and I was listening and at a certain point I said, ‘I could do that! (laughs)’ I went back a second time and met Lee Gopthal and we started talking and he asked me where I lived because he wanted to get his records all over London, not just in the shops but to guys who would buy these records, so I told him I’m interested in selling records for him on the weekends or whenever, so he trusted me. I remember the first batch of records I got there was 25. There was an assortment of 45s, four or five different songs—Laurel Aitken and Prince Buster and these people. Within two days, I sold them all. That weekend (laughs). I was selling to people, go knock on their doors, people I knew. I would play it for them and they’d say, ‘Yeah, I’ll take it.’ It saved them from going to the record shops because on a Friday or Saturday, the record shops were filled because records were selling then (laughs)! So I sold it all, went back and he gave me 50. I did well.”

Lee Gopthal

Livingstone says that he had a passion for more than selling music—he wanted to sing! “Then one day I got a phone call from him [Lee Gopthal] because he knew that I was interested in singing as well. He told me of this record company, Carnival Records, Mr. Crawford owned it. Actually it was Cross-Bow Records was the mother company and Carnival was the subsidiary label. At that time he owned one of the early pirate radio stations, Radio Caroline. So he said I should get in touch with Mr. Crawford because he wants to get in touch with the Jamaican music scene, and that is where I did my first recording. That was in 1964.”

But Livingstone didn’t just go to sing the song solo. According to G. Cooksey in his encyclopedia entry on Dandy Livingstone, “Carnival, in search of West Indian acts, had expressed a desire to record a duo, which Livingstone accommodated easily by tracking over his own voice on tape, for a two-record deal. The tracks were released, and credited to an imaginary pair called Sugar and Dandy, their names chosen to capture the persona of Livingstone’s sweet voice and impeccable dress.” I asked Livingstone about this and he laughed, “You heard about that huh? That was the time they wanted a duo but back then I was a brave lad. I turned up alone and he said to me where is the guy to do the track? And I gave him an excuse or something because I double tracked my voice. And from there things started to roll.” As for the name Sugar and Dandy, Livingstone explains, “It was just a name. I tell you this, you know names stick on people, right? So I didn’t want to be called Sugar (laughs)! So I took the Dandy bit! We did three songs on that session. ‘One Man Went to Mow,’ was one and the other two were ‘Time and Tide’ and ‘What a Life.’ Sugar and Dandy was never really a duo as such. Roy Smith was a friend who used to hang around with me, I taught him the little I knew…yeah the first session for Carnival he didn’t show, that’s when I found out about double tracking one own’s voice. Roy Smith sang on three songs after that first session at Advision Studio Bond Street London 1964. Tito Simon had his own thing going ,but he sat in on one session with me, ‘Only Heaven Knows’ b/w ‘Let’s Ska.'”


After the success of “What a Life,” Livingston says that he focused on his schooling, but always kept one foot firmly planted in music. “From there on, things didn’t work with Carnival Records so I moved on to Rita King, Ska Beat label. By this time I’ve known Rita from her original shop in Stratford, London. Stratford Market was where I met Rita and Benny King. Their record shop was the prime shop for Jamaican music. I went there one afternoon and she asked me what I’m doing now. After ‘What a Life,’ she said she hadn’t heard anything. I said, ‘Well I’m concentrating on my schooling.’ And she said, ‘Come and see me, maybe we can do something.’ Another month or so after, I went back to see her and we arranged a recording session and did a few songs and compiled the album ‘Rock Steady with Dandy.’”

dandy livingstone rock steady with front coverIt was during this time that Livingstone recorded his iconic hit, “Rudy A Message to You.” He explains, “At that time the rude boy scene in Jamaica was very strong with the rudie records, everyone was singing rude boy songs, speaking of the rude boys and telling them to cool it. This idea came to me, ‘Rudy, A Message to You,’ and the idea came and the song was finished in about 10 minutes. It was very simple. I remember calling Rita [King of Ska Beat records] on the phone and saying, ‘Look, I have a song,’ and she said okay. She didn’t want to hear nothing, just gave me the studio and I went in and recorded it, just like that.” I asked Livingstone how the song was written and he replied, “It was just a couple of words—my brain was good then, young (laughs). It was just a few lines and we went and did it, did the song on Old Kent Road. Vic Keary was the engineer. He was the engineer who did my early recordings and I did this track and in those days we did two track recordings. I went in a week after and I remember calling up a few people, how could I find Rico Rodriguez? Everybody knows Rico where he hangs out and I was told he was hard to get on with. Now I’m a likkle youth so I was saying to myself, I wonder? So I got in touch with Rico. I was told he wouldn’t show, but he did, of course. He did, right? He did the recording and I was so glad. He said to me, ‘Wha yuh wan me play?’ And I’m just a likkle youth, nobody knows me and so I say, ‘Just play the melody line,’ and that was it! I told him to play the melody, (sings) ‘Stop your runnin’ around,’ and he plays the same melody. He says, ‘I’m going to play it in the intro and play it in the solo.’ And that was it. And you know what happened to that song after that (laughs)! It was like The Specials signature song and it is an anthem. That song is amazing over the years, people keep repeating it, in so many adverts and movies. It’s uncanny in the sense that it is just a special song (laughs) and it had a cult following. I was just telling people to cool it, cool it.”


After this recording session, Livingston says that a familiar face came knocking at his door. “It was a 360 thing because Lee [Gopthal] by this time acquired a building in East End, London to start Trojan Records. By 1968, four years after meeting Lee, this guy start his own company. As it works out, he calls on me, so it was a 360 thing, you know? I remember the morning when I went down to see Lee for him to show me this building, an old warehouse type place. Bunny Lee, Striker Lee was present and Lee [Gopthal] was there, he said he want a name for this company and he’s been juggling around and he said, ‘Guys, what about Trojan Records?’ and Bunny looked at me and I looked at Bunny and we said, ‘Yeah!’ Because all the early Jamaicans in London know of Trojan, Duke Reid, it’s a good idea, a good idea. He probably thought of it before he saw us but he came up with it this morning and that was it. I remember him calling Dave Betteridge and they were in some partnership as well, Dave Betteridge at Island Records and Chris Blackwell and obviously they said yes, and that is how Trojan was born.”


Livingstone went on to produce a number of artists over the years, including Tony Tribe with “Red Red Wine.” Livingstone says, and I can almost see the twinkle in his eye through the phone line, “Tony Tribe. God bless his soul.” But Livingstone says that it was his own version of “Suzanne Beware of the Devil” that was more successful than the one recorded by Nicky Thomas. “Nicky had his thing going before but ‘Suzanne Beware of the Devil,’ I recorded that song three times, twice in London, once in Jamaica. There was something about this song. It was simple and it was just bugging me. I put ‘Suzanne Beware of the Devil’ on tape and in those days you had B sides, right? Remember? So I had this song, I can’t remember the title, on the A side and this company wanted to rush this particular song and I didn’t have a B side and something came to me and I said, ‘Hey, I have this song called Suzanne Beware of the Devil, so let me put it on the B side,’ not thinking about anything, they just needed a B side, so it went as a B side. The record was released, distributed all of the place, and there was a disc jockey, I think his name was Emperor Roscoe, he started playing the B side in the clubs and the kids really went for it and he called Trojan and he said, ‘Hey, you guys have a hit recording,’ and they said, ‘Which one?’ He said, ‘Which one? Suzanne Beware of the Devil!’ and Lee said to him, ‘The B side?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, the B side, that’s what the kids want.’”


“Lee asked me how about Nicky Thomas doing it and Nicky had ‘Love of the Common People,’ right? And he had about two songs after that and nothing happened so they needed Nicky to have another hit record so Nicky did it, they put a lot of brass and thing over the track which didn’t work. The same disc jockey called him up one day and said to Lee, ‘You guys are a bunch of you know what! The kids want Dandy Livingstone! That raw ethnic version (laughs).’ Two or three weeks after that I was on Top of the Pops, just like that. Amazing isn’t it? What must be will be. That is how I got my first national hit because ‘Rudy’ was an underground hit at the time. ‘Suzanne’ was really the first national hit, and then ‘Big City’ of course was the follow up.”


He says that his songs have appeared on a number of albums over the years, though not through his direction. “There were some tracks the company just kept compiling. There wasn’t a set thing. I wasn’t too much in the everyday scene of music, so when I went around they put these tracks together and some of them I didn’t like, of course. Some of the compiling things, some tracks I didn’t like, as a musician. You just like that track and don’t like that one, but that’s how that went. They did their thing when I didn’t come forward,” he says.


And so after a time, Livingstone says that he decided to heed the call to head back home. “I started thinking about Jamaica when The Specials hit with ‘Rudy.’ My family and I always thought about going back to Jamaica and it was about 1979 I started thinking about going back home and that was it, we came home. I went back [to London] a couple of times, but it took me 20 years before I went back and not to live.”

Today, Livingston has what he calls “a small family again (laughs)! One daughter. Everybody is healthy. She is not in the music business.” His mother lived in New York for nearly 50 years, leaving London for the Big Apple in 1969. She has resided in Jamaica since 2013.


When asked if he still performs, Livingstone chuckles. “You’ve heard of the three-day music festival called Skamouth? Well I was there last March. It went down great. And I’m going back this April. I am one of the most peculiar recording artists. Production was my thing mainly. And when I did Skamouth last March, it was the first time in 42 years that I went on a stage. I just wasn’t interested in performing. When ‘Suzanne Beware of the Devil’ happened I did a few shows and in the 70s, but I did not have to live on music. I did just producing.” When I tell him that he has fans the world over who adore his music, including myself, this charming man on the other side of the phone humbly responds, “That’s what I realize!”

Enjoy a few of Dandy’s tunes below:

Rudy, A Message to You

Suzanne Beware of the Devil

Big City

Reggae In Your Jeggae