Sir Harry

d. 1999. In an industry where lesser talents can accomplish stardom and rave reviews given to middling DJs, unique performers such as Sir Harry were frequently disregarded. Although regularly referred…
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d. 1999. In an industry where lesser talents can accomplish stardom and rave reviews given to middling DJs, unique performers such as Sir Harry were frequently disregarded. Although regularly referred to as an inspiration by Jamaican artists, Harry was considered at best a minor figure working within Jamaica’s music industry. His initial role in the studio was as a courier running errands for Studio One producer Coxsone Dodd. In return for his undertakings Harry was allowed studio time to practice and occasionally record in his unique DJ style. It was Dodd who also allowed Harry to utilise the Abyssinians’ ‘Declaration Of Rights’ for his release, the bizarre ‘Musical Rights’, which initially surfaced on the DJs own Sir Harry label. While working at the Brentford Road studios Harry also recorded a version of the Heptones’ ‘Message From A Black Man’ as, ‘Sounds Number One’. This was also released on his own label and the moderate success of these singles inspired Hugh Madden to employ the DJ to ride a number of hits performed by Peter Austin and Ernest Wilson. Harry initially emulated the style of Count Matchuki and Sir Lord Comic, although by the early 70s his Trojan Records’ UK releases were similar to the prevalent style of Prince Jazzbo. Ironically, Jazzbo recorded the classic ‘Mr Harry Skank’, that celebrated Sir Harry’s unique style. In 1973, Harry enjoyed a number of hits in the UK with ‘Meet The Boss’, ‘Musical Light’, ‘Apollo 17’ and ‘Uptown Rock’ released through the Down Town label. Other singles followed including ‘Bigger Boss’ (with Ansell Collins) and the underrated ‘Butto Down’. The pinnacle of Sir Harry’s career came shortly after with the celebrated ‘Last Call’, that echoed Lizzy’s ‘Wear You To The Ball’ aka ‘Harmony Hall’. Unfortunately, Harry was unable to capitalise on his hit and the DJ subsequently languished in relative obscurity. In the early 80s Coxsone Dodd re-released the double a-side, ‘Declaration Of Rights’ with Sir Harry’s ‘Musical Rights’. Interest in the DJ re-occurred in 1991 when Lionel Young, aka Sir Tropical Downbeat, compiled a series of compilations for the Trojan label. The anthology was acclaimed as showcasing ‘rare classic singles from the golden age of Jamaican music’ and featured the DJ performing his latter hits on the third volume. In 1999, the escalating violence in Kingston resulted in Sir Harry being added to the list of celebratory fatalities that has plagued the industry.