Double bass player Cluett Johnson’s most lasting contribution to the history of music happened by accident. From 1959, Jamaican-born Johnson led the first band to make records in Jamaica; the Blues Blasters’ line-up included Ernest Ranglin, Rico Rodriguez, Roland Alphonso, Theophilus Beckford and drummer Arkland ‘Drumbago’ Parks. Their early recordings, such as ‘Shuffling Jug’ (1959), were in a calypso or R&B vein and were promoted on producer Coxsone Dodd’s Downbeat sound system, which played in and around Kingston. Having thus created a demand, Dodd would release their records on his Worldisc label. Rehearsing in the studio, Johnson reportedly instructed Ranglin to ‘Play it like ska, ska’, thus unwittingly coining the name of his island’s predominant music of the 1962-66 period. By that time, the Blues Blasters had evolved into the Skatalites and Johnson had slipped from view.
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