Desmond Dekker

Desmond Dacres was working as a welder in his home town of Kingston, Jamaica in 1961 when his co-workers encouraged him to audition for various Jamaican producers. He managed to impress singer Derrick Morgan, who recommended him to producer Leslie Kong. He eventually got his first local hit with Honour Your Mother And Father, which he followed with Sinners Come Home and Labour For Learning, at which point he changed his name to Desmond Dekker. His joyous fourth hit King Of Ska, backed by The Cherrypies, aka The Maytals, made him one of Jamaica's biggest stars and he recruited The Four Aces - all brothers - as his backing band. More hits followed and Dekker's popularity spread to the "rude boy" culture in the UK with his first international hit 007 (Shanty Town), leading to an album of the same name. He'll be forever remembered, however, for the impossibly infectious 1968 ska track Israelites, a Number 1 in the UK and Top 10 in the USA; making him the first Jamaican artist to have an American hit with a song rooted in Caribbean music. He had further hits - notably with It Mek and You Can Get It If You Really Want It - but never again matched the success of Israelites. Dekker continued to tour regularly and remained popular during the rise of the 2-Tone movement - which mixed punk and ska - in the early 1980s, working with The Specials and reggae act Apache Indian. Israelites became a hit again in 1990 on the back of being used on a TV advert, but little more was heard of him until his death from a heart attack in 2006.

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