A tribute to Joe Higgs — the father of reggae

June 3, 2024

article reposted by Chelsea

via jamaicaobserver.com

A diminutive man, Joe Higgs made a giant contribution to the development of Jamaican music. He was the first Trench Town artiste to score a hit song and mentored The Wailers, a harmony group from that community.

On June 3, his 84th birthday, Higgs’ legacy will be acknowledged in ‘A Tribute to Joe Higgs The Father of Reggae’.

This concert takes place at the St Andrew home of famed guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith, who worked on one of Higgs’ last major projects.

Claudia Higgs, the eldest of the singer’s 10 children, is behind the show which features Smith’s Binghistra Movement, Fred Locks, Kai Wakeling, and Denzil Williams of Wadadah.

She is determined to maintain interest in the achievements of her father, who died in California in 1999 at age 59.

“He’s the foundation of the music. He was always helping the people and teaching the people music. My father shared what he knew with the artistes, especially emerging artistes, and I think that’s his greatest contribution,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

Joe Higgs was born to a father from the Turks and Caicos Islands and a Jamaican mother in West Kingston and spent much of his early life in Trench Town. He excelled as a singer and, with fellow artiste Roy Wilson, had a big hit in 1958 with Oh Manny Oh, produced by Edward Seaga.

In the 1960s Higgs nurtured the talent of The Wailers, which included Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston (later Wailer). He helped develop their image and introduced them to producer Clement Dodd, who directed them on their initial hits — It Hurts to Be Alone and Simmer Down.

Higgs toured with Jimmy Cliff and The Wailers during the 1970s and continued recording music.

Moving to Southern California, he became an influential member of that region’s growing reggae community.

Stephen-Rhae Johnson plays Joe Higgs in Bob Marley: One Love, the Paramount Pictures biopic about the reggae king.

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