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Artist Hall of Fame

King StittText by Harry Hawks

The series of singles that King Stitt, the first ever deejay superstar, made with Clancy Eccles were the first where the deejay received a proper credit on record. They demonstrated how lyrical interjections and interruptions from a ‘toaster’ could build up as much excitement on record as they did in a dance… and the floodgates were now open.
Date Added: Feb 15, 2012 Copyright (C) 2014 Dub Store Sound Inc.
Sep 17, 1939 - Jan 31, 2012
Place of Birth: Kingston
Jamaica
"Ca when him (King Stitt) record tune U Roy no record no music yet... I Roy no record no music yet. Big Youth no record no music yet..." Keith Hudson

The late, great King Stitt (pronounced Stitch), born Winston George Sparkes 17th September 1939 in Jubilee Hospital, Kingston, started deejaying for Coxsone Dodd(CS Dodd)'s Down Beat Sound System in 1956 as "second to King Sporty" adding his inventive introductions and throwing down his own original observations as the records played. He had earned the Stitt nickname as a boy and went on to use it as his stage name. He became King Stitt when he was crowned 'King of the Deejays' in 1963. At first he was heavily influenced by the style of American radio announcers but King Stitt, and his inspired exhortations, progressed to become one of the originators of the Jamaican deejay tradition. He never allowed his disfigured features to hamper his incredible musical career and, in fact, traded on his facial malformation and would become better known as 'The Ugly One' in tribute to Sergio Leone's 'spaghetti western' film 'The Good, The Bad And The Ugly'.

As American rhythm & blues gradually transformed into Jamaican shuffle and boogie, and eventually ska, the most enterprising of the sound system deejays began to transfer some of their choicest lyrics on to vinyl. However, the role of the deejay was so undervalued that the majority never got their names on the record labels. No-one thought they were of any importance! Some did occasionally manage to get a credit: 'Ska-ing West', an adaptation of Billy Hope & The Bad Men's 'Riding West' released on BMN, actually named Sir Lord Comic on the label but the deejayed contributions to the majority of these early releases remained unsung. In 'Girls Town Ska', which was credited to Baba Brooks & His Band, Count Sticky does get a name check in the record's introduction "Hey Sticks where you going tonight? I'm going down by Girls Town" but, apart from this, he received neither "praise nor raise..." for his role.

As 1969 turned into 1970 King Stitt, now the deejay for Coxsone's Number One set and "a position of great importance", finally managed to buck the trend with a stunning series of seven inch releases for up and coming producer Clancy Eccles. These included 'Herb Man' with Lynford 'Andy Capp' Anderson, 'Vigorton' aka 'Vigorton Two', the truly incredible 'Ugly One'/'Lee Van Cleef' which would become his signature tune..."these are the days of wrath Eastwood. I am the Ugly One. Die. Die. Die...", 'King Of Kings' and 'Fire Corner' which finally heralded the arrival of the sound system deejay as a recording artist. A long player, 'Fire Corner' released in 1970 on Clandisc in Jamaica and in the UK through Trojan Records showcased two of Stitt's hit singles and the otherwise unreleased but wondrous 'Soul Language' alongside a stirring selection of beautiful Dynamites instrumentals. This classic, top class album was a big seller in the UK and proved very popular with the burgeoning breakthrough market for reggae music at the time. U Roy went on to "rule the nation with version" but King Stitt was the"King of Kings who ruled kingdoms".

In 1970 Coxsone Dodd took Stitt into Studio One and recorded a series of singles on hit rhythms including 'No Man Version' (No Man Is An Island' – Dennis Brown), 'Redder Than Fred' (OK Fred' – John Holt), 'Back Out Version' ('Back Out' – Wailing Souls) and 'Rhyming Time' ('Dancing Time' – Bop & The Beltones) but these were not as successful as his recordings with Clancy. King Stitt did not record for another two years when he cut one of his best ever records: a superb version to Alton Ellis' 'Hurting Me' entitled 'Skank Corner' released on Mr Dodd's Iron Side label. His fans then had to wait another seven years before he recorded again on an excellent version of Sugar Minott's 'Give Me Jah Jah' (itself a version of Alton Ellis' 'Breaking Up') released on a Studio One twelve inch and entitled 'Live Jah Up'. Coxsone and Stitt never stopped working together but Stitt's role in the Studio One set up was now as Sales Manager in the Brentford Road headquarters.

The b side to 'Lee Van Cleef' was the revelatory 'Dance Beat' which featured Clancy and Stitt reminiscing about the deejays, venues and dance promoters from the early days of sound systems. It was very rare for reggae records to ever look back... they had previously chosen to work in the here and now... and the record was as near as anyone had ever been able to get to a historical insight of those heady times.

"Spar? Do you remember the deejays them?
Oh! The bad, bad Red Hopeton. A funny, funny man...
You remember Count Matchuki? A him the boss with the hot soul sauce!"
'Dance Beat' - Clancy & Stitt

And, nearly a quarter of a century later, King Stitt and Coxsone Dodd made the first ever recreation of the rhythm & blues and ska era on record when 'Dance Hall '63' was released in early 1994. The cover included a superb photograph of King Stitt, live and direct on the mic. on Coxsons Down Beat Sound System, and contained Stitt introducing and deejaying over a strong selection of early Studio One productions including 'Doctor Ring Ding', 'On The Beach' and 'Four Corners'.

After a long battle with prostate cancer King Stitt died on 31st January 2012 at his home in Nannyville, Kingston. All at Dub Store extend their sincere condolences to his daughter Beverley, family and friends on the loss of a true innovator.

"No matter what the people say these sounds lead the way
It's the order of the day from your boss deejay... I King Stitt"
'Fire Corner' – King Stitt
Feb 15, 2012 Text by Harry Hawks
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Hit titles
Various - Dance Hall '63 featuring King Stitt
CD Various - Dance Hall '63 featuring King Stitt Studio One
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¥2080 (US$19.87)
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King Stitt - Reggae Fire Beat
CD King Stitt - Reggae Fire Beat Jamaican Gold EU
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¥1980 (US$18.91)
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King Tubby, Clancy Eccles All Stars - Sound System International Dub LP
CD King Tubby, Clancy Eccles All Stars - Sound System International Dub LP Pressure Sounds UK
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¥2080 (US$19.87)
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Various - Dance Hall '63 featuring King Stitt
LP Various - Dance Hall '63 featuring King Stitt Studio One
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¥1680 (US$16.05)
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Various - Keep On Coming Through The Door
LP Various - Keep On Coming Through The Door Trojan UK
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¥3280 (US$31.33)
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King Tubby, Clancy Eccles All Stars - Sound System International Dub LP
LP King Tubby, Clancy Eccles All Stars - Sound System International Dub LP Pressure Sounds UK
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¥2280 (US$21.78)
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Sugar Minott; Jackie Mittoo - Give Me Jah Jah; Version (Press Noise)
vinyl 12" Sugar Minott;Jackie Mittoo - Give Me Jah Jah; Version (Press Noise) / King Stitt - Live Jah Jah Studio One Breaking Up
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¥1580 (US$15.09)
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Delroy Wilson - Why Do Lovers (with King Stitt)
vinyl 7" Delroy Wilson - Why Do Lovers (with King Stitt) Studio One UK
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¥800 (US$7.64)
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Alton Ellis - Hurting Me
vinyl 7" Alton Ellis - Hurting Me / King Stitt - Hurting Me Ver. Studio One US Hurting Me
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¥850 (US$8.12)
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King Stitt - Skanking West
vinyl 7" King Stitt - Skanking West Studio One Riding West
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¥850 (US$8.12)
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Recent arrival(s)
Luciano - Soul Provider
vinyl 7" Luciano - Soul Provider / King Stitt - Wisdom Lucky Dragon Fool
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¥570 ¥299 (US$2.86)
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Best selling 10/12"(s)
Sugar Minott; Jackie Mittoo - Give Me Jah Jah; Version (Press Noise)
vinyl 12" Sugar Minott;Jackie Mittoo - Give Me Jah Jah; Version (Press Noise) / King Stitt - Live Jah Jah Studio One Breaking Up
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¥1580 (US$15.09)
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Best selling 7"(s)
Alton Ellis - Hurting Me
vinyl 7" Alton Ellis - Hurting Me / King Stitt - Hurting Me Ver. Studio One US Hurting Me
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¥850 (US$8.12)
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Puddy Roots - Africa Trod
vinyl 7" Puddy Roots - Africa Trod / King Stitt - Jah Arise Uhuru Send Down The Rain
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¥570 ¥399 (US$3.81)
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Luciano - Soul Provider
vinyl 7" Luciano - Soul Provider / King Stitt - Wisdom Lucky Dragon Fool
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¥570 ¥299 (US$2.86)
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