b. Michael Johnson, c.1963, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. Prior to his career in music Sassafras was employed at the riding stables at the Caymans Park racecourse in Jamaica. A regular visitor to the course was the entrepreneurial Jack Scorpio who built his own popular sound system in the early 70s and ventured into record production in the 80s. His first production was Sassafras performing ‘Pocomania Jump’, a reference to the religious culture that has survived in Jamaica since the days of slavery. The tune was an instant hit leading to a deluge of Pocomania-themed songs notably the DJ Gregory Peck’s version, ‘Poco Man Jam’. Sassafras followed his hit with ‘Calypso Jump’, which was equally as popular in the dancehall. As a reference to his origins at the racetrack he was referred to as the Horseman. He recorded singles in combination with Johnny Clarke ‘Take Heed’ and the Paragons ‘Modelling Crowd’. The two performers were the main DJs for the Black Scorpio sound based in the Waterhouse area. In the mid-80s Sassafras ventured to New York, USA where he played on various sounds establishing international eminence. He also toured the UK where he performed at the Easter Reggae Festival organised by the Greater London Council alongside, Roy Shirley, Leroy Smart and Edi Fitzroy. By 1989 he recorded in combination with Barrington Levy, a version of Toots And The Maytals’ ‘Pomps And Pride’ as ‘Step Up In Life’. The song was produced by Sassafras and Jah Screw.
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