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Artist Profile
Delroy Wilson
Oct 5, 1948 ~ Mar 6, 1995
Compared to a number of his contemporaries Delroy Wilson never seemed to be really respected or recognised outside of the traditional reggae audience. But he is one of the greatest singers and songwriters to ever come out of Jamaica… a country justifiably famed for its singers and songwriters.
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Place of birth:
Jamaica
Kingston
"This young man, Delroy Wilson, is a rarity in the entertainment business. He possesses extreme youth plus a combination of patience and skill which far surpasses his years. He also has fine style, and all these good things about Delroy come out in his singing, thus winning him countless fans all over the world."
Jackie Estick

Born 5th October 1948 in Kingston, Jamaica "this sprightly youngster debuted in the world of entertainment at the age of thirteen" while still attending Boys Town School and young Delroy came up with hit after hit after hit for Coxsone Dodd(CS Dodd) at Studio One "His first record 'Emy Lou' was an immediate hit and was soon followed by 'Beautiful Baby', 'I Shall Not Remove' and 'Joe Liges'." In keeping with the spirit of the times Delroy also engaged, on behalf of Mr Dodd, in on record attacks on rival record producers and sound systems. 'Joe Liges' and 'Spit In The Sky' were both directed at Prince Buster as was 'Prince Pharaoh' where Mr Dodd himself can be heard on a very rare appearance on vinyl intoning ominously "When I say get down... I mean get down".

Delroy was at the heart of music making, a front runner in Coxsone's stable of artists, and he sung love songs, reality songs, religious songs... all types of songs in his inimitable style. And as the rhythms slowed down from ska to rock steady Delroy's voice continued to develop and mature on a non stop run of hits including 'Riding For A Fall', 'Rain From The Sky', 'Never Conquer', 'I Don't Know Why', 'True Believer' 'Feel Good All Over' and the almighty 'Dancing Mood' a gentle ska into rock steady adaptation of The Tams tune of the same title. All sound every bit as beautiful now as they did at the time of their original release.

Delroy now formed the short lived W & C label in partnership with Stranger Cole and hit with 'I Want To Love You', a version to Donnie Elbert's 'Will You Ever Be Mine', and this song would become one of the building blocks of modern Jamaican music during the next decade.

Towards the close of the sixties Delroy recorded briefly for Bunny Lee but, as Tony Rounce recalled, "however, at this time Bunny Lee was enjoying great success with the great Roy Shirley, The Uniques and Glen Adams amongst others and Delroy was never exploited to the full". He then began recording for Sonia Pottinger's High Note label and 'It Hurts'/ 'Put Yourself In my Place' was a massive Jamaican and UK hit. Delroy then returned to Bunny Lee and their first recording together, the anthemic 'Better Must Come', was adopted by the Peoples National Party as their campaign song for the 1971 election when Michael Manley came to power.

"... the music reached the people and won the election." Bunny Striker Lee

"I made songs like 'Better Must Come' for the politicians and the youth and the PNP used it to help win the election." Delroy Wilson

Striker followed this up with the immortal 'Cool Operator' and this was followed by a slew of hits including 'Here Come The Heartaches' and 'Who Cares'. Delroy also sang over a number of his Studio One hits for Striker including 'Never Conquer' and 'Dancing Mood'.

Remaining at the very forefront of Jamaican vocalists Delroy continued to record a combination of covers and originals for Kingston's top producers including the amazing 'This Life Makes Me Wonder', released on Carib Dis Co, and the mildly misogynist 'Pretty Girl' for Joe Gibbs. Towards the end of 1973 he sang 'Have Some Mercy' over a cut of Lee 'Scratch' Perry(Lee Perry)'s'To Be A Lover'/'I Forgot To Be Your Lover' rhythm for Ainsley Folder. Striker reminisced "You know Delroy just went into the studio and did a freelance thing 'pon it?" but it was a monster hit and inspired countless versions including Augustus Pablo's 'Pablo's Mercy' and Jah Lloyd's 'Soldier Round The Corner'. His work for the Hookim brothers at Channel One included a superb version of The Spinners 'It's A Shame' which Striker used as the inspiration for his infamous 'flyers' style of rhythm which held the world of reggae in a tight stranglehold throughout 1974 and 1975.

Delroy Wilson never enjoyed a crossover hit although his masterful cover of The Wailers' 'I'm Still Waiting', produced by Lloyd Charmers at Federal, can definitely be regarded as the one that got away. It was a huge hit in the UK although it was only ever available as an expensive pre-release import single on the LTD label. However, despite its massive popularity, it was never officially released in the UK where it was a certainty to follow Ken Boothe's 'Everything I Own', also produced by Lloyd Charmers at Federal, to the Number One position in the National Charts.

When digital rhythms came to prominence in the following decade Delroy cut a number of sides for King Jammy including the wonderful 'Don't Put The Blame On Me' and a masterful cut of Augustus Gussie Clarke's 'Rumours' rhythm for Striker entitled 'Ease Up'.

Delroy continued to record and score hits for a variety of producers but was now only considered one of the greats among the cognoscenti and his plaintive, sincere approach never really found favour with reggae's new found audience. However, he was not only popular with the traditional reggae audience but also a huge favourite with other singers. As influential as he was Delroy was never going to follow fashion and towards the close of his career he was increasingly sidelined by younger artists whose performances could never hope to come close to his diffident magnificence. I feel genuinely privileged to have had the pleasure of meeting this modest, self effacing giant of a genre he helped to create, to have seen him work on stage and to have heard him sing in the studio.

Delroy Wilson died of complications from cirrhosis of the liver on 6th March 1995. He was 46 years old. It is unlikely that we will see, or hear, his like again.
 
Related artist(s):
Ken Boothe
Bob Marley, The Wailers
Dennis Brown
Alton Ellis
Slim Smith
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Description of item
[All Items] → [7"] → [Ska / Rocksteady] → [Rock Steady] → [Delroy Wilson]
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vinyl 7" 7"
Delroy Wilson / Stranger Cole, Patsy
Once Up On A Time / Yeah Yeah Baby
Strange Jah Cole
¥600 (US$5.78)
Rating: 1234
Genre: Ska / Rocksteady
Sub Genre: Rock Steady
Produced by: Stranger Cole
Approx. year: 1968
Date added: Dec 6, 2011
Date re-stocked: Oct 1, 2012
Country: Jamaica
Music type: Rocksteady B: Rocksteady
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SIDE A:
listen Once Up On A Time
SIDE B:
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