Articles & Interviews
Clement 'Sir Coxsone' Dodd
THE legendary music producer Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd, an early pioneer of reggae credited with launching the career of Bob Marley, died on Tuesday of an apparent heart attack. He was 72.
Bunny Goodison, a close friend and musicologist, was with Dodd hours before he died. "We were talking about life and music; he was just sitting in his personal chair at the studio," Mr Goodison said.
His death comes four days after he attended a ceremony to rename a street after his famous record label and studio, Studio One, in Kingston.
Born on 26 January, 1932, Clement Seymour Dodd started out in the music business in the 1950s, operating a popular "sound system", or portable disco, and releasing records on his own label. His early recordings in the 1950s and 60s helped launch the birth of ska, a forerunner to reggae.
"Itís a massive loss," Mr Goodison said. "If you remove his entire catalogue from the Jamaican scene, a serious vacuum would be created."
In 1963, Dodd opened Studio One, the Caribbean islandís first black-owned music studio. Later that year, he was introduced to a scruffy singer named Bob Marley, who auditioned for Dodd with his band, the Wailers. Impressed, Dodd signed the group to a five-year contract, launching a musical career that would span three decades and take Marley to the heights of international acclaim.
Dodd quickly grew fond of the fatherless Marley, letting him live in a back room at the studio. At Doddís encouragement, Marley emerged as the front man of the group, recording the 1964 hit Simmer Down, an appeal for calm among Kingstonís idle slum-dwellers, known as "rude boys".
Besides Marley, Dodd is credited with launching the careers of dozens of reggae legends, including Lee "Scratch" Perry, Dennis Brown and Freddie McGregor.
An accomplished cricket player, Dodd was nicknamed "Coxsone" after a famous player from the 1940s. As a young man, he left Jamaica to cut sugar cane in the American South, where he was exposed to the outdoor R&B parties popular among rural blacks. Later, he returned to Jamaica and bought a PA system, naming it "Sir Coxsoneís Downbeat", which became one of the countryís best-known sound systems.
In 1991, Dodd was awarded the Order of Distinction, Jamaicaís third highest honour, for his contribution to the islandís musical heritage.
In 2002, he was honoured with a series of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of his start in the music industry. Today, samples of Doddís older rhythms can be heard in American hip hop songs.
"I feel that the effort I put out over the years was well received and well accepted. I am open to keep on producing good music over my lifetime and with the ideas I am putting together, I know they will be successful too," he said in a published interview in 2002.
Last week, hundreds turned out as the city government honoured a beaming Dodd by renaming the street where his studio sits Studio One Boulevard. For the last several years, Dodd split his time between Jamaica and New York City, home to his family and several other music businesses.
Funeral arrangements were unavailable. Dodd is survived by a wife and several children.
Last updated: 06-May-04 01:05 GMT