COMMEMORATING DEKKER’S 80TH BIRTHDAY
Desmond Dekker aka the King of Ska would have turned 80 on July 16th 2021. Trojan Records are commemorating this anniversary with a year-long schedule of events and releases.
On the 16th of every month in 2021 we will continue to release a new Desmond Dekker digital album
Online DJ set showcasing Desmond’s amazing catalogue
Over 100 Dekker tracks to enjoy at the click of a button
A Spotify Music + Talk show which covers Dekker’s music career chronologically including interesting anecdotes
Testimonials from notable names in the industry plus rare performance footage of Dekker
LISTEN TO THE PLAYLIST
Desmond Adolphus Dacres, aka Desmond Dekker, was one of reggae’s first international superstars, and his contribution to the global success of Jamaican music can hardly be overstated. Without the impact of his work in the latter half of the 1960s, it is questionable whether reggae and the sub genres would have gained the huge success in the decade to follow up till this very day.
16th July 1941Born in St. Andrew, Kingston, Jamaica.
Christened Desmond Adolphus Dacres, he spent his early days on the family farm in Danvers Pen, St Thomas, before moving back to the island’s capital, aged 15. As a youth, he sang in the local church choir, although his desire to be a singer was sparked more by the ‘race’ music from across the Gulf of Mexico.
June/July 1956Desmond leaves school and starts his first job as an apprentice welder at the Standard Engineering workshop, South Camp Road, Kingston
Inspired by US performers such as Nat ‘King’ Cole, The Platters, Brook Benton and Jackie Wilson, along with local stars Owen Gray, Jackie Edwards, Count Prince Miller and Derrick Morgan, he began writing his own material, eventually auditioning for fledgling record producer Leslie Kong.
Auditions for Leslie Kong at the producer’s Beverley’s Ice Cream Parlour & Record Shop at 135A Orange Street, resulting in his first recording contract.
His initial effort, ‘Honour Your Mother And Father’ promptly became a local bestseller, and over the next year or so, he cut a series of well-received ska 45s for Kong’s Beverley’s Records label.
Dekker teams up with the Four Aces, with their first single together ‘Get Up Edina’
The mid-Sixties saw a growth in the popularity of vocal group recordings in Jamaica, and, never slow to spot a trend, Kong had Desmond briefly team up with a young group called The Cherry Pies before uniting him in the the studio with four young singers collectively known as The Four Aces.
‘007’ released in Jamaica in November 1966
The Four Aces became The Aces after the departure of group member Patrick Johnson.
June 1967‘007’ released in the UK by Doctor Bird Records on the Pyramid label
Desmond and The Aces became one of the first Jamaican acts to breach the UK pop charts with their rude boy-inspired ‘007 (Shanty Town)’.
July 1967‘007’ enters the UK Top 50 pop chart.
Doctor Bird release Desmond Dekker & The Aces’ official video of ‘007’.
August 1967Desmond Dekker & The Aces’ first UK tour
‘007’ peaks at number 14 in the UK pop chart, with the promo video first airing on BBC’s Top Of The Pops’
August 1967Debut Jamaican album “Action” released
Although Desmond and The Aces failed to follow up this astounding success abroad immediately, they continued to enjoy huge popularity in Jamaica, where a series of superior rock steady singles peppered the local charts.
September 1967Doctor Bird Records release Desmond Dekker & The Aces’ first UK album, “007 (Shanty Town)”
July 1968‘Intensified’ wins the Jamaican song festival competition
Among the most notable 45s from this period are ‘Unity’, ‘It Pays’, and the prestigious Jamaican Song Festival winner, ‘Music Like Dirt’ (aka ‘Intensified ’68’).
October 1968‘Poor Mi Israelites’ released in Jamaica on Leslie Kong’s Beverley’s label
December 1968‘Israelites’ released in the UK by Doctor Bird Records on the Pyramid label
Two years after their first global hit, Desmond and the Aces powered their way back into the international spotlight
April 1969‘Israelites’ becomes the first Jamaican-produced record to top the UK Top pop chart
The feat was repeated in West Germany, Holland, Sweden, South Africa and Canada, while in the US the record made it to number 9 on the Billboard Pop chart.
June 1969‘It Miek’ released in the UK on Doctor Bird Records’ Pyramid label.
July 1969“This is Desmond Dekkar” enters the UK Album charts at number 27.
‘It Miek’ the single entered the UK Top 50 pop chart, eventually reaching number 7, while Desmond embarks on a month-long tour of the USA
September 1969Performs at the ‘Caribbean Music Festival’ Wembley Empire Pool, London
‘Israelites’ opened the floodgates for reggae in the UK. In its wake, an array of Jamaican talents found themselves riding high on the British charts. Primarily promoted by Trojan Records, Jimmy Cliff, The Pioneers, The Melodians, The Harry J All Stars, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Upsetters and The Maytals all achieved significant mainstream action.
December 1969Desmond signs to Trojan Records
January 1970‘Pickney Gal’ enters the UK Top 50 pop chart
The record proves to be the singer’s final single to feature The Aces, with the single peaking at number 42 in the British pop charts.
July 1970Trojan release Desmond’s first solo single since 1964, ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’
Desmond’s first solo single for seven years returned him to the national pop listings, with the Jimmy Cliff-penned ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’ eventually peaking at number 2 in the UK pop chart on 3rd October 1970
November 1970Desmond’s first solo album, “You Can Get It If You Really Want” released by Trojan
Trojan release Desmond’s hugely popular debut solo album
Summer 1972Desmond leaves Trojan to join Rhino Records
A bright future looked assured, but within months Desmond would see his world fall apart. In the summer of 1971, his close friend, producer and mentor, Leslie Kong, collapsed and died following a heart attack. A year later, the singer moved to the newly formed Creole Records.
Trojan release “Double Dekker” album
A period out of the UK singles chart action ensued, as Trojan release the best-selling double album collection, ‘Double Dekker’, comprising the best of Desmond’s reggae recordings produced by Leslie Kong.
July 1975‘Israelites’ peaks at number 10 in the UK pop chart
Desmond returns to the UK charts with ‘Israelites’ making the British top ten for a second time.
September 1975Sing A Little Song’ breaks into the UK Top 20
The follow-up 45, the uplifting ‘Sing A Little Song’ reached number 16 in October 1975.
Desmond re-joins Trojan with the release of the “Officially Live & Rare” LP
Following a prolonged period out of the spotlight, Desmond signs a new contract with Trojan Records and, assisted by long-time friend Delroy Williams, he launched himself into a gruelling schedule of live work.
Halfway To Paradise album released on Trojan
Desmond continued to record for Trojan for the next 12 years, with his talents ensuring he remained constantly in demand around the globe.
25th May 2006The passing of a Jamaican legend
Tragically, on 25 May 2006, like his old friend Leslie Kong, Desmond suffered a fatal heart attack. During his lifetime he had been a musical pioneer, a man whose unique talent as a songwriter and performer provided the gateway to Jamaican music for millions around the world. Without him, reggae may have remained simply a musical curiosity, and the likes of Bob Marley, and all those who have followed since, little more than local heroes. There can be few greater accolades than that.