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Artist Hall of Fame

Junior BylesText by Jeremy Collingwood

Famed in Jamaica as the artist who took Rasta music into the mainstream with his ‘Beat Down Babylon’ track and in the roots scene as an intense performer of militant and devotional songs. The scope of Byles success was limited by his human frailties, not any lack of musical gifts.
Date Added: Feb 9, 2011, Date Updated: Mar 9, 2011 Copyright (C) 2019 Dub Store Sound Inc.
Real Name: Kerrie Byles
Jul 17, 1948 -
Place of Birth: Kingston
Jamaica
Related Artist(s):
Versatiles
Lee Perry
Bob Marley
Byles, born Kerrie Byles Junior in 1948 - to a strong religious family, embarked on a musical career in 1967 when he founded The Versatiles. They cut some half a dozen sides for Mrs Dorothy Barnett and her 'Deltone' imprint in late 1968 and a similar number for Joe Gibbs(Joel Gibson) 'Amalgamated' label in late 1968 to 1969. It was at these sessions that he met Lee Perry who was employed by Joe Gibbs.

In 1970 Byles struck out on his own and under the guidance of Lee Perry. 1971 horse racing tune ' 'Got the Tip' featured Bob Marley & the Wailers on harmonies but it was with 1971 'Da Da' that Byles first break through hit with the Jamaican Festival song contest winner. The following year his 'Beat Down Babylon' became a massive JA hit that sold in the ten of thousands and took Rasta sentiments into the charts. Over the next few years Byles emotive vocals made him one of the earliest 'Roots Reggae' singers: with 'A Place Called Africa' capturing the growing movement of Jamaicans looking to Africa as the homeland of their forefathers who were kidnapped into Slavery.

Byles had a deep spiritual faith and a militant outlook that when linked to his own sensitivity and vulnerability made for an extraordinary voice. A one-off release on his own LovePower imprint, 'Black Crisis' was followed by a host of tracks for Perry such as 'Auntie Lulu', 'Pharaoh Hiding', 'The Long Way' and 'Rasta No Pick Pocket'. In the UK his 'Beat Down Babylon' album was issued by Trojan whilst several of his singles surfaced on labels such as Pama that were more aimed at the Jamaican ex-pat community.

1974's 'Curly Locks' was his last hit and Perry's attempts to get an album deal with Island came to nothing, as Byles increasing fragile metal health meant that the meeting with label supremo Chris Blackwell ended badly. The death of Haile Selassie in 1976's caused Byles to attempt suicide and there followed a stay in Bellevue psychiatric hospital. Mental health issues continue to plague Byles to this day.

Byles worked with various other producers such as Jo Jo Hookin(Joseph Hookim) (whose 'Fade Away' gave Byles a Sound System Hit), Lloyd Campbell ('Weeping' & 'Can you Feel It') and Dudley 'Jaman' Swaby ('Pichty Patchy') but would never repeat his success that he enjoyed with Lee Perry – both pre and during the Black Ark days.

Over the next few years occasional singles surfaced and an album, 'Rasta No Pickpocket' appeared in 1986. Truth was that Byles was never able to return to the top flight of recording. By the end of the decade spells spent living on the streets and using dumpsters as a source of food marked the depth of his decline. One of the original torch bearers for Roots reggae had shone brightly for a handful of years and recorded some classic of the genre.

In 2004 he toured the UK but was clearly not a well man.
Feb 9, 2011 (Mar 9, 2011 Update) Text by Jeremy Collingwood
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Hit titles
Junior Byles - A Long Way
CD Junior Byles - A Long Way Rhino UK Info: Deleted
¥2180 (US$20.05)
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Junior Byles, Upsetters - Curly Locks: Best Of Junior Byles & Upsetters 1970-1976
CD Junior Byles, Upsetters - Curly Locks: Best Of Junior Byles & Upsetters 1970-1976 Heartbeat US
  
¥2180 (US$20.05)
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Junior Byles - Beat Down Babylon: The Upsetter Years
CD Junior Byles - Beat Down Babylon: The Upsetter Years Trojan UK
  
¥1980 (US$18.21)
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Junior Byles, Various - 129 Beat Street: Ja-Man Special 1975-1978 (Jr. Byles & Friends)
CD Junior Byles, Various - 129 Beat Street: Ja-Man Special 1975-1978 (Jr. Byles & Friends) Blood & Fire UK Info: Deleted
  
¥2380 (US$21.88)
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Junior Byles - When Will Better Come
LP Junior Byles - When Will Better Come Trojan UK
¥2580 (US$23.72)
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Junior Byles, Various - 129 Beat Street: Ja-Man Special 1975-1978 (Jr. Byles & Friends)
LP Junior Byles, Various - 129 Beat Street: Ja-Man Special 1975-1978 (Jr. Byles & Friends) Blood & Fire UK Info: Deleted
  
¥5980 (US$54.99)
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Junior Byles - Jordan
LP Junior Byles - Jordan Heartbeat US Info: Deleted
¥3980 ¥3580 (US$32.92)
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Junior Byles; Augustus Pablo - Fever; Hot & Cold Version 1
12" Junior Byles;Augustus Pablo - Fever; Hot & Cold Version 1 / Augustus Pablo;Dillinger - Hot & Cold Version 2; Episode 10 Trojan UK Fever
  
¥2580 (US$23.72)
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Junior Byles - A Place Called Africa
7" Junior Byles - A Place Called Africa Orchid UK Place Call Africa
  
¥1180 (US$10.85)
BUY
Versatiles - Give Me Bread
7" Versatiles - Give Me Bread Soul Sounds (Org) Info: Original Press
  
¥2980 (US$27.40)
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Junior Byles - Curley Locks
7" Junior Byles - Curley Locks Orchid UK Curley Locks
  
¥720 (US$6.62)
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Junior Byles - Fever
7" Junior Byles - Fever / King Medioms - This World Black Art UK Fever
  
¥1280 (US$11.77)
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Junior Byles - Beat Down Babylon
7" Junior Byles - Beat Down Babylon Orchid UK Beat Down Babylon
  
¥1280 (US$11.77)
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Junior Byles - Da-Da
7" Junior Byles - Da-Da Panther NY (Org) Beat Down Babylon Info: Original Press
¥1000 (US$9.20)
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Junior Byles - Fade Away
7" Junior Byles - Fade Away High Times Fade Away/Peanie Peanie
  
¥890 (US$8.18)
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Junior Byles - Can You Feel It
7" Junior Byles - Can You Feel It Ossie US Whip Them Jah
  
¥1200 (US$11.03)
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Junior Byles - Fade Away
7" Junior Byles - Fade Away Jama UK Fade Away/Peanie Peanie
  
¥1580 (US$14.53)
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Junior Byles - Oh Carolina
7" Junior Byles - Oh Carolina Micron US Oh Carolina
  
¥1080 ¥999 (US$9.19)
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Junior Byles - Weeping
7" Junior Byles - Weeping / I Roy - Water Rate Observer
  
¥570 (US$5.24)
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Recent arrival(s)
Gregory Isaacs - Babylon Too Rough
10" Gregory Isaacs - Babylon Too Rough / Junior Byles - Heart And Soul Joe Gibbs UK Easy Take It Easy
  
¥2280 (US$20.96)
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Best selling 10/12"(s)
Gregory Isaacs - Babylon Too Rough
10" Gregory Isaacs - Babylon Too Rough / Junior Byles - Heart And Soul Joe Gibbs UK Easy Take It Easy
  
¥2280 (US$20.96)
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Best selling 7"(s)
Junior Byles - Fade Away
7" Junior Byles - Fade Away Jama UK Fade Away/Peanie Peanie
  
¥1580 (US$14.53)
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Junior Byles - Beat Down Babylon
7" Junior Byles - Beat Down Babylon Orchid UK Beat Down Babylon
  
¥1280 (US$11.77)
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Junior Byles - A Place Called Africa
7" Junior Byles - A Place Called Africa Orchid UK Place Call Africa
  
¥1180 (US$10.85)
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Junior Byles - When Will Better Come (Colored Vinyl) (Press Noise)
7" Junior Byles - When Will Better Come (Colored Vinyl) (Press Noise) / Upsetters, Aggrovators - Ski Wa Wa Clocktower EU Better Must Come
  
¥1100 ¥599 (US$5.51)
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Junior Byles - Another Moses
7" Junior Byles - Another Moses / Bob Marley, Lee Perry, Dave Barker - Shocks Almighty (Unreleased Mix) Pressure Sounds UK/Upsetter
  
¥2180 (US$20.05)
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