Jamaica Magazine

King Jammy’s Book

Written by Staff Writer

Editorial Reviews

“STILL THE BEST BOOK EVER WRITTEN ABOUT REGGAE.” DAVE HENDLEY, REGGAE PHOTOGRAPHER AND JOURNALIST

WITH AN AFTERWORD BY STEVE BARROW OF BLOOD AND FIRE RECORDS, CO-AUTHOR OF REGGAE: THE ROUGH GUIDE

About the Book:
A window into the life and work of a champion producer and soundsystem boss, King Jammy’s offers an intimate look at one of the most important figures in the history of “urban” music—the man credited with saving reggae by injecting it with new life through the development of “digital” rhythms.

While the dominant sound that defined international reggae during the 1970s had been primarily associated with ganja, Rastafari, and Bob Marley-style roots riddims, the music coming out of Jamaica’s toughest ghettoes at the dawn of the 1980s had more in common with American rap than roots reggae. Ghetto-based soundsystems — involving powerful homemade sound equipment, stacks of vinyl, and full deejay crews —rocked local dancehalls and gave birth to a new golden age of Jamaican music. The 1980s was the age of dancehall and Lloyd “Jammy” James was King.

In this reissue of the classic book first published in 1989 by Finland’s Blackstar Press, Beth Lesser takes a detailed look at the musical history of one man, the legendary King Jammy, and intertwines his unique story with a portrait of the times in which he lived and worked. The book also includes reprints of interviews originally published in Lesser’s seminal magazine, Reggae Quarterly. Dozens of Lesser’s rare photographs have been integrated into a new design by Martina Keller of Intro, the firm responsible for the achingly beautiful sleeves of Blood and Fire Record’s releases.

As Reggae legend Dennis Alcapone has said about King Jammy’s, it’s “a musical education and great inspiration to all reggae lovers.”

About the Author
Beth Lesser traveled with her husband for almost the entire decade of the 1980s back and forth between their homes in Toronto, New York City, and Kingston, Jamaica, collecting reggae records for his radio show and material for their well-respected magazine, Reggae Quarterly. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

About the author

Staff Writer