b. c.1950, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. Tommy Cowan has been involved in the reggae industry for 30 years as a performer, producer, promoter and master of ceremonies. In 1966 he formed a group called the Merricoles and successfully entered an amateur talent contest. In 1967 the group changed their name to the Jamaicans and are remembered as winners of the celebrated Jamaican Song Festival, with ‘Baba Boom’. The recording, produced by Duke Reid, topped the Jamaican charts and led to a series of hits, including ‘Sing Freedom’, ‘Woman Go Home’ and the re-release of their debut, a plaintive song relating to the inevitability of life, ‘Things You Say You Love, You’re Gonna Lose’. Following the group’s demise, Cowan joined the Dynamic studio, where he was employed as the resident engineer. Having accumulated sufficient knowledge in studio work he went into record production, working with Jacob Miller and Inner Circle, Junior Tucker, Earl Zero, Ray I and Dean Stone, as well as recording the occasional single, notably a version of the Wailers’ ‘Lick Samba’. Cowan formed the Top Ranking label and successfully managed Inner Circle, balancing their commercial career alongside hits solely for the roots market. While Killer and Wanted appeased the group’s reggae fanbase, Reggae Thing and Ready For The World enjoyed international success. By the late 70s, Cowan had established a reputation for wooing the crowds as an MC, introducing a number of performers at the Reggae Sunsplash Festivals and the legendary One Love Peace Concert. In 1980 he was invited to accompany Bob Marley on his tour of Zimbabwe when the reggae legend played at the independence ceremony. When he returned to Jamaica, Cowan concentrated on expanding his Talent Corporation. One of the artists affiliated to this company was his second wife Carlene Davis, who initially recorded reggae ballads. In 1988 she topped the Jamaican charts with ‘Dial My Number’, which led to greater exposure for Cowan’s corporation. By the mid-90s his roster of performers included John Holt, Dobby Dobson, Ruddy Thomas, Toots Hibbert, Ernie Smith, General Degree, Scotty and Jack Radics.
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