The Sagittarius Band was the collective name of session musicians formed around the bass-playing skills of Derrick Barnett. He first appeared playing bass in the 1982 Reggae Sunsplash Festival, which was filmed for a television broadcast. Accompanied by an all-star horn section featuring Tommy McCook, Michael Hanson and Everod Gale, Barnett played bass behind Marcia Griffiths, Sister Nancy, Eek A Mouse (who also appeared in the same year with Lloyd Parks’ We The People Band) and Yellowman. As well as televising the event, Synergy, the company behind the annual Sunsplash Festival, recorded it for a series of live albums. Highlights of the series included recordings of Yellowman, Toots And The Maytals, Big Youth, Chalice, the Twinkle Brothers and Eek A Mouse with Michigan And Smiley. The Yellowman album highlighted the playing skills of the group, although the album credits the Sagittarius Band as Derrick Barnett And Company. The success backing Yellowman resulted in the group accompanying the star on his European tour, where the combined playing skills and dance routines of the band became legendary. They were acknowledged as the successors to the Roots Radics, although competition from the High Times and Black Roots Band led to intense rivalry. By 1983 Barnett was recording with Mikey ‘Boo’ Richards, Franklin ‘Bubbler’ Waul and Willie Lindo, and backing Ruddy Thomas and Desi Roots. Barnett also backed Susan Cadogan for her duets with Ruddy Thomas. The sessions were recorded for Roy ‘Hawkeye’ Forbes Allen who encouraged Barnett to embark on a solo career as a vocalist. In 1984 he covered ‘You Make It Happen’ under the pseudonym of Rikki Barnett. The single proved a hit in the reggae chart and was swiftly followed by the equally successful ‘Figures Can’t Calculate’. He maintained his position as leader of the band, and their reputation for professionalism resulted in further appearances at the Sunsplash Festivals. This involved them playing non-stop rhythms for DJs such as Charlie Chaplin, Brigadier Jerry, Josie Wales and Yellowman. By the autumn of 1984 the group stole the show at the Heat In De Place concert, headlined by the Mighty Sparrow. The group were the most in-demand support band in Jamaica but the advent of the digital era resulted in less call for session work.
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