Thursday, September 07, 2006

Reggaeobit: Joseph Hill

The funeral of Culture singer Jospeh Hill has been set for Saturday.

As a child growing up in St. Catherine, Jamaica in the early 1950s, Hill built his own first instrument - a drum; it was a start in the world of music which would eventually take him around the world.

His first professional work was djing with Jamaican sound systems in the 1970s, but his drumming skills provided him with an opportunity to make music instead of just playing other people's. Asked to provide percussion for the Soul Defenders, Hill found himself recording in Coxsonne Dodd's Studio One. It wasn't long before he started singing as well as playing.

As the 1970s progressed, Hill moved to work with C35 Incorporated and Stepping Stone before, in 1976, forming his own band, Culture. Alongside Albert Walker and Kenneth Dayes, Hill produced a body of work that combined memorable tunes with searing social commentary. Working with producer Joe Gibbs and engineer Errol Thompson, Culture built a large following at home and, following a hook-up with Branson-era Virgin Records, became one of the better-known reggae acts worldwide.

Hill was left as sole occupant of the Culture brand in 1982 when Walker and Dayes quit. He elected to continue under the name instead of going solo, producing Lion Rock more-or-less single-handed and keeping things going until 1986, when the Walker and Dayes returned. Lion Rock was the 48th best record of the last millennium, using the votes of John Peel listeners as the measurement.

Dayes left again - permanently this time - in 1993; his eventual replacement, Telford Nelson joined in 1999.

Although the band had ammassed an impressive back catalogue, Hill was insistent that their tours and work should never become a nostalgia enterprise, and continued to write and create.

Culture were on tour and in Berlin when Hill died at the end of the August. Rather than call off the remaining dates, the band drafted Hill's son, Kenyatta, to take his father's place on the stage.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rest in peace Joseph and thank you for the great music you have given to us.
You will be sorely missed.

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