Prince Buster, Jamaican ska musician, Died at 78

  Music, Writer

Cecil Bustamente Campbell was born on May 24, 1938 and died on September 8. 2016.

He was better known by the stage name Prince Buster.

He was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and producer.

Prince Buster was regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of ska and rocksteady music.

He released in the 1960s influenced and shaped the course of Jamaican contemporary music and created a legacy of work that later reggae and ska artists would draw upon.

He became more actively involved in the operational side of running a sound system after he was introduced to Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd, a musically inclined businessman who operated one of Kingston’s most popular sound systems.

He found himself fulfilling a variety of roles for Coxsone: providing security, handling ticket receipts, identifying and sourcing music as well as working in the essential role of selector.

The knowledge and experience he gained about the financial and logistical aspects of staging a sound system dance was put to good use when he made the decision to start his own sound system called ‘Voice of the People’.

He approached his family and a radio shop owner called Mr Wong for financial backing; both parties agreed.

His ‘Voice of the People’ sound system was soon operational and within a short time had established itself as a rival to the sound systems of Coxsone and Reid.

He applied to the Farm Work Program (guest worker scheme for the US agricultural sector) with the intention of buying music for his sound system but on the day of departure was refused entry into the scheme.

He knew that he wouldn’t be able to personally source records from the US, Campbell decided to record his own music.

Cecil Bustamente Campbell approached Arkland “Drumbago” Parks, a professional drummer at the Baby Grand Club who had arranged and recorded a special (exclusive recording) for the Count Boysie sound system.

Additionally, Drumbago agreed to help and Campbell immediately began rehearsing with the musicians at the Baby Grand Club, including the guitarist Jah Jerry, who played on Campbell’s first recording session.

During 1972 the movie The Harder They Come was released which features Campbell in a cameo role as a DJ.

During 1994 a UK court ruled in favour of John Folkes and Greensleeves after they brought a lawsuit against Campbell and Melodisc (CampbelI by this time had acquired Melodisc) concerning authorship of “Oh Carolina”.

He had a top 30 hit in the UK with the track “Whine and Grine” (no. 21, April 1998) after the song had been used in an advert for Levi’s.

In 2001 Campbell was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican Government for his contribution to music.

He performed at the 2002 Legends Of Ska festival in Toronto.

His other appearances include: Sierra Nevada World Music Festival in 2003; the 2006 Boss Sounds Reggae Festival in Newcastle upon Tyne, the 40th Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland with the Delroy Williams Junction Band, and the 2007 UK Rhythm Festival.

He resided in Miami, Florida.

Cecil Bustamente Campbell passed away at 78 years old.