Maurice Johnson

One of Jamaica’s top producers of the 1980s and '90s.
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Artist Biography

b. c.1955, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. Johnson is regarded as one of Jamaica’s top producers of the 80s and 90s. He set up the Black Scorpio sound system in the late 70s, which was later maintained by Bounty Killer’s father. Some of the DJs passing through the sound system included Eek A Mouse, Lady G and Papa San. In Jamaica the natural progression from the sound system is to produce your own tunes. Johnson followed the tradition when in 1984 his earliest success as a producer transpired through Admiral Bailey’s ‘A Yu Shape’ and Anthony Johnson’s ‘Nah Lickshot’. Johnson became known as Jack Scorpio and while running the sound system continued to produce hits with artists such as Echo Minott (‘Lazy Body’), General Trees (‘Monkey And Ape’), and Early B (‘Bouncer Moves’). Having cut dub plates around Kingston Johnson utilised studios such as Channel One, Harry J. and Dynamic. Through his contacts he negotiated studio time and enjoyed a series of hits with artists including, Sugar Minott, Yellowman, Charlie Chaplin, Sassafras and Michael Palmer alongside the UK-based DJ Macka B. By 1990 Johnson had established the Black Scorpio complex at Headley Avenue in Kingston where he continued to turn out Jamaican chart-toppers. He produced ‘Missing You’ for Dennis Brown and in 1992 worked with new singers, Garnett Silk, Pliers and Pinchers. In 1993 Johnson realised the potential of the distinct style of Mega Banton and embarked on a series of hits with the DJ, notably ‘Sound Boy Killing’, ‘Mr Mention’ and a combination hit with Leroy Smart, ‘Mr Want All’. In 1994 Johnson was inspired by the DJ/singer partnership and paired Barrington Levy with Banton for a remake of Levy’s earlier hit ‘She’s Mine’. The song topped specialist charts worldwide and signalled a run of hits for the producer in the following year. He was involved in the production of Bunny Rugs’ remake of Third World’s ‘Now That We’ve Found Love’, introduced Everton Blender to international audiences and following the well documented tragedy in Mandeville recorded a ‘Tribute To Garnett Silk’ by a Silk sound-a-like known as Sattalite.

In the latter half of the 90s Johnson’s output appeared to diminish although he maintained Black Scorpio’s profile with his production of Paul Elliot’s ‘Jah Is For Me’ alongside hits for Capleton, Frisco Kid, Jigsy King and Tony Curtis. Johnson’s successful productions were patchy until 2001 when he enjoyed a revival through Beenie Man, who celebrated his Grammy success with ‘Waar Waar Waar’, and compiled earlier tracks from the DJ on Youth Quake. While it is clearly evident he has made a significant contribution to the Jamaican music industry, Johnson is generally regarded as the man who introduced Pliers to the world stage.