Black Uhuru

Brudenell Social Club, Leeds.

Black Uhuru

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Derrick “Duckie” Simpson the Gong Gong Gullieis the founder and leader for reggaes BLACK UHURU. Although going through numerous lead singers and musicians they have remained to be one of the most recognized and prolific reggae band for over 45 years. The Group’s line up is Duckie Simpson, Andrew Bees, and Elsa Green.

The roots of BLACK UHURU were formed in Kingston Jamaicas Waterhouse district also known as Firehousein the early 60s. Though considered to be one of Jamaicas toughest neighbourhoods its home to several other reggae singers and musicians. It was where Duckie Simpson grew up and learned to sing from boyhood friends Winston “Pipe” Matthews and Lloyd BreadMcDonald of Wailing Souls and Bob Marley. He recorded four tracks with Wailing Souls before forming his own group.

The original Uhurus (Swahili for freedom) were Derrick “Duckie” Simpson, Ervin Don CarlosSpencer and Rudolph GarthDennis. They only recorded a few singles Folk Songs” “Time Is On Our Sideand Slow Coachbefore separating. Don went solo and Garth joined Wailing Souls.

Duckie reformed the group adding Michael Rose & Errol “Tarzan” Nelson, both from Waterhouse. They recorded their debut album Love Crisesin 1977 at Prince Jammys famous studio in Waterhouse on St. Lucia Road. It was later re-released as Black Sounds Of Freedom. Errol later left to join The Jayes. He was soon replaced by American female singer & dancer Sandra PumaJones. They teamed up with drummer Sly Dunbar and bass player Robbie Shakespeare. Together they developed a musical style full of deep bass thumps, loud drum slaps, sharp keyboards, long instrumentals with guitar riffs, whirly back round noises, echos and the signaturewoh oh oh’s” creating they’re “classicsound. Producing hits like I Love King Sellassie, “‘Shine Eye Gals”, “General Penitentiaryand What is Life”.

BLACK UHURU released the albums Red, Chill Out, Sinsemila and Guess Whos Coming To Dinner and began to tour the world bringing them to international audiences. It was during this period they started to gain rapid popularity. They opened live shows for the Rolling Stones and the Police. They began to work with other well accomplished producers and musicians. Keith Richards played guitar for the “Shine Eye Gal” track. Dennis Brown The Crown Prince of Reggaeproduced the tracks Rent Manand Wood For My Fire. The trackSpongi Reggaeappeared on an episode of The Bill Cosby Show and Party in Sessionin the movie 1980s North Shore. BLACK UHURU made reggae history when they won the first ever Grammy Award for reggae music in 1984 for the album Anthem Shortly after the grammy Michael Rose went solo.

Another Waterhouse resident named Delroy JuniorReid became the new lead singer. They released two albums Brutal and Positive. The Brutal album was nominated for a grammy. They filmed three music videos for the tracks Fire City” “Brutal, and Great Train Robbery, that track also played on a popular video game Grand Theft Auto. Sadly in 1990, due to ill health, Sandra “PumaJones passed away of cancer. Junior Reid shortly went solo.

Then the original three re-united. They released four albums Now, Iron Storm, Mystical Truth and Strong. Each album was nominated for grammy. They made an award winning music video for the track Tip Of The Icebergfeaturing rap star Ice-T in 1992. Eventually splitting up again. Carlos & Dennis left again & Duckie stayed again. This time there was a lawsuit brought amongst the group over the bands legal rights in Los Angeles county court. Derrick Simpson won.

As the new millennium approached there came a new lead singer yet again from Waterhouse named Andrew “Bee’s” Beckford. They released two albums. Unification was produced by King Jammy & Dynasty was produced by Fitzroy Francis & Duckie. They went on a worldwide tour featuring Sly and Robbie and had the famous producer Scientist as its road engineer. Andrew Bees then went solo.

In 2007 Duckie & Michael Rose reunited after twenty years. They performed in Jamaica and did one international tour and released the single Dollars. In 2011 Duckie reunited with Andrew Bees after ten years. He added female backing vocalist Kaye Star and began touring again performing in South America & America.

BLACK UHURU recently performed in a Broadway Musical. The red carpeted event Loving the Silent Tears: A New Musicalpremiered October 27th 2012 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles Ca. They were invited to represent reggae music and performed a new track Make A Deal. And in Las Vegas Nevada BLACK UHURU was recently honoured for its contribution to the entertainment industry. August 31st if now officially Black Uhuru Dayin the city of Las Vegas.

BLACK UHURUs long success has allowed them to become ambassadors of reggae while earning several achievements in the music industry. With 14 full length albums, 7 instrumental dub albums, and 4 live albums they have the highest record sales in reggae music behind Bob Marley. The album Red was voted #23 for Rolling Stones list of 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s. Aside from winning the first reggae grammy they have been nominated 5 more times. They are the only reggae group to have won the Diamond Awards of Excellence in 1994.

Despite all of BLACK UHURUs change of different singers and musicians the one thing that has always remained is Derrick “Duckie” Simpson. Much respect to a legendary figure for Reggae Music. The group is recently released a new album ‘As the World Turns’ which features Duckie on lead and was good for another Grammy Nomination in the category of ‘Best Album’.  You can find new Music Videos of the songs ‘Jah Guide ft. Bugle’ and ‘War Crime’ on youtube and more is to be expected of the notorious Reggae Band in the near future, stay tuned!