Thursday, April 14, 2005


Reggae star Junior Delgado has died. Although he was only 46, Junior had a career spanning three decades, working with nearly all of the giants of reggae.

Junior was born Oscar Hibbert in West Kingston, Jamaica in 1958. A lot of his early work was recorded at Lee 'Scratch' Perry's studio. As Delgado remembered:

"Well, the first producer I worked with was Upsetter, Lee Perry, Scratch. That was like magical, because that was when I was very, very young, you know. I was 17. Scratch, he was a man I could remember. Bob Marley was there, Peter Tosh - but they were like big men - and Family Man (Aston Barrett), and Carlie (Carlton Barrett), and Reggie were there. And Junior Byles and Max Romeo and a lot of people. That's where I saw Chris Blackwell the first time."

At this time, Delgado was working as a member of Time Unlimited, but he also did work on the side for Rupie Smith under the contractually dubious Heavenly Brothers. After both bands petered away, Delgado was persuaded by Dennis Brown to go solo. By now it was the mid-70s, a period which saw Junior recording Tricksters and Storm Is Coming Taste of the Young Heart, his debut solo album, was released in 1978; its success persuaded him to launch his own label, Incredible Jux.

In the 1980s he'd add Sly and Robbie to his illustrious list of collaborators for Fort Augustus and Merry Go Round, building a reputation worldwide.

Spending time split between Jamiaca and London, Delgado brought the same social conscience that lead him to create Tition with Dennis Brown to the track Broadwater Farm. When his predictions of tension boiling over on the estate proved to be correct, the single found itself out of favour.

In the late 90s, Delgado produced Fearless, with a mix of guests stretching from Jerry Dammers to Maxi jazz, and joined the On-U Sound family of acts, working with Adrian Sherwood for his Reasons album.

Although unexpected, Delgado's death is believed to have been from natural causes.

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