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Artist Hall of Fame

Jah ThomasText by Harry Hawks

The “music maker from Jamaica” is one of a select number of Jamaican deejays who possessed not only the talent to make great records themselves but also had the generosity and ability to inspire and organise other artists to make great records too…
Date Added: Sep 10, 2012, Date Updated: Oct 1, 2012 Copyright (C) 2021 Dub Store Sound Inc.
Real Name: Nkrumah Manley Thomas
Aug 27, 1995 -
Place of Birth: Kingston
Jamaica
Related Artist(s):
Anthony Johnson
Triston Palmer
Born Nkrumah Manley Thomas 27th August 1955 Jah Thomas came from a family who were proud of their history. It was not easy for Nkrumah and his brother Kenyatta when they were growing up because in "those days they used to laugh at the African names" but these names are now rightly respectfully regarded. Their father Kenyutte Thomas sang in the family home and in later years Jah Thomas' mother Vira Clementina Ferguson would "lend me money to do my sessions" and his strong family ties stood Jah Thomas in good stead in the musical struggles that lay ahead.

Nkrumah was born in the Rockfort district of Kingston 2 but at the age of twelve he moved to Trench Town and grew up between Trench Town and Rose Town. When he finished his education at Trenchtown Comprehensive Evening Institute he began work in a garage run by one of Kingston's Ford dealers and learned the trade of panel beater and welder. "I used to sing and deejay as I beat the panels. They used to call me the juke box... and the more singing and deejaying I did the happier I was."

The first sound systems he listened to were Prince Delroy based in Rose Town and King Doctor Hi Fi and he recalled that an inspirational deejay known only as Bullpuss chatted on both sounds. Jah Thomas began to learn the art of the dance hall deejay on a sound named Burning Spear from Payne Land, Kingston and "when certain rhythms played I'd walk up to the control tower and take the mic." at local sound systems including Soul Imperial Hi Fi and later at well known sounds including Ray Symbolic, King Sturgav and Killamanjaro.

"I'd built up a reputation around the Waltham Park Road area and the people would surround me and give me inspiration. If something dropped well on the sound you'd know you had a hit record so most of my hits I did them in the dance first." Jah Thomas

Jah Thomas first started recording in 1976 for Ossie Hibbert but his first hit record was for producer Alvin 'GG' Ranglin(Alvin Ranglin). GG used to hold auditions for new artists on a Monday and, when bass player Errol 'Flabba' Holt(Flabba Holt) heard Jah Thomas, he decided "this guy sounds good". The following day GG took Jah Thomas to Channel One Recording Studio where, backed by The Revolutionaries featuring Lowell 'Sly' Dunbar on drums and Robbie Shakespeare on bass, Jah Thomas recorded 'Midnight Rock' over a new cut of 'Things & Time'. Over the next few years Jah Thomas continued to make hit records for a number of producers including Joe Gibbs(Joel Gibson), the Hookim brothers(Joseph Hookim) at Channel One, Sonia Pottinger's High Note label and, towards the end of the decade, for Henry 'Junjo' Lawes. In May 1979 Jah Thomas started his own label which he named 'Midnight Rock' after his first massive hit.

"After 'The Girls Them Love Me' I knew I could produce myself and the first song was 'Cricket Lovely Cricket' on a cut of 'My Conversation' that Junjo had given to me." Jah Thomas

And, as Jamaican music moved away from the roots based style of the seventies, Junjo Lawe's recut of The Uniques' 'My Conversation' would prove to be one of the most important rhythms of the dance hall revolution. Jah Thomas' 'Dance On/Pon The Corner' album was released in 1979 and was one of the first dance hall albums. That same year he began to produce records directly for Jamaica's dance halls with an impressive array of artists that included Barry Brown, Junior Keating, Little John, Little Twitch, Tonto Metro, Sugar Minott, Johnny Osbourne, Michael Palmer and Triston Palmer.

"These were lyrics I used to talk in the dance... a guy came up to me at a dance in England and asked me for 'first a cigarette... then a draw of weed... then a lighter...' so I said 'You're a joker smoker'. I gave those lyrics to Triston Palmer. I was doing this for pleasure! I used to record all my friends who were around me." Jah Thomas

Two of Jah Thomas' productions with his friends from this formative period have become recognised as classic dancehall anthems: Triston Palmer's 'Entertainment' from 1981 and Anthony Johnson's 'Gunshot' from 1982.

"I had started to make my own rhythms and I had a cover of 'Heavenless' and I saw how it mashed up the dance. One Saturday night I went to a dance at Cockburn Pen with Jammy's Super Power. There was trouble when shot a fire and police and rude boys mashed up the dance and I knew I had to write a song. I was working on it the next day and my girlfriend said 'Entertainment is a form of enjoyment...' and we recorded the song with Triston Palmer... voiced and mixed it in the same session! 'Entertainment' could be the biggest song I've ever composed. It still sells on seven inch like it's brand new.

I was in England in 1981 and 'Gunman' by Michael Prophet was everywhere... everywhere I went I heard it play so I said to myself I need a gun tune too. Anthony Johnson started to sing for me and I said 'I've had enough love songs! Give me that 'Gunshot' tune!' It was an instant hit..." Jah Thomas

The Roots Radics laid the rhythms for Midnight Rock's dance hall records. The line up varied from session to session but their core members were drummer Lincoln 'Style' Scott, bassist Errol 'Flabba' Holt, rhythm guitarist Eric 'Bingy Bunny' Lamont, lead guitarist Dwight Pinkney, veteran pianist Gladstone Anderson, organist Winston Wright, Wycliffe 'Steely' Johnson(Steely & Clevie) on keyboards and percussionists Bongo Herman and 'Sky Juice'. Jah Thomas invariably used the Hookim's Channel One studio, where he had made his first record, to build his rhythms before moving on to King Tubby's Dromilly Avenue studio to voice and mix:
"Most of the time I used the Roots Radics. I'd pay them before a session so they'd work better with money in their pockets! In one session we made ten different rhythms and seven of them were hits... before that I used Sly and Robbie...

I used four horn players together like an orchestra... Dean 'Youth Sax' Fraser(Dean Fraser), David Madden, 'Chico' Hamilton and 'Nambo' Robinson... I used Channel One with Barnabas, Peter Chemist, Soldgie and Maxie too. Bunny Tom Tom mixed my first tune and then King Tubby's every time for voicing with Tubby, Scientist and Professor before he moved to America."
Although he was a top deejay Jah Thomas, surprisingly enough, was never averse to voicing other deejays such asPeter Metro, Early B and Ranking Toyan.

"If you have a competition taking life in the dance then I wanted to record it. Early B the same way! I used to take the whole Killamanjaro crew into the studio for a recording session."
Jah Thomas remains active in the music business and has never stopped re-pressing his Midnight Rock seven inch catalogue and cutting 'specials' of his many hits for Kingston's sound systems; he is also the father of Orville Thomas better known as Da'Ville a respected and very successful singer. The music of Jah Thomas and Da'Ville continues to tear down the dancehalls...
Sep 10, 2012 (Oct 1, 2012 Update) Text by Harry Hawks
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Hit titles
Super Cat, Burro Banton, Jah Thomas, Jim Brown - DJ Classics 1980-1983
LP Super Cat, Burro Banton, Jah Thomas, Jim Brown - DJ Classics 1980-1983 Midnight Rock
  
¥1580 (US$13.94)
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Jah Thomas - Shoulder Move
LP Jah Thomas - Shoulder Move Midnight Rock
  
¥1580 (US$13.94)
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Triston Palmer, Jah Thomas, Toyan - Entertainment (Extended Mix)
12" Triston Palmer, Jah Thomas, Toyan - Entertainment (Extended Mix) / Little John, Toyan - Jah Guide I (Extended Mix) Greensleeves UK Heavenless
  
¥1680 (US$14.82)
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Jah Thomas - Midnight Rock
7" Jah Thomas - Midnight Rock GG's Back Out
¥700 (US$6.18)
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Jah Thomas - Friday Night Jamboree
7" Jah Thomas - Friday Night Jamboree Midnight Rock Heavenless
  
¥800 (US$7.06)
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Barrington Levy, Jah Thomas - Dance Pon The Corner
7" Barrington Levy, Jah Thomas - Dance Pon The Corner Midnight Rock Real Rock B: Party Time
  
¥800 (US$7.06)
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Luie Lepki - Return Of The Champion
7" Luie Lepki - Return Of The Champion / Roots Radics - Champion Dub Midnight Rock Gun Shot
  
¥600 ¥299 (US$2.64)
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Jah Thomas - Working Hard For A Dollar
7" Jah Thomas - Working Hard For A Dollar Midnight Rock Come Home
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Super Cat - Me Glad She Gone
7" Super Cat - Me Glad She Gone Midnight Rock Come Home
  
¥980 (US$8.65)
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Early B - Visit Of King Selassie
7" Early B - Visit Of King Selassie Midnight Rock Full Up
  
¥700 (US$6.18)
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Little John - Say What You're Saying
7" Little John - Say What You're Saying Midnight Rock Answer
  
¥800 (US$7.06)
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Jah Thomas - Shoulder Move
7" Jah Thomas - Shoulder Move Midnight Rock Shoulder Move
  
¥900 (US$7.94)
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Jah Thomas - New Dress Style
7" Jah Thomas - New Dress Style Midnight Rock Answer
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Triston Palmer - Entertainment
7" Triston Palmer - Entertainment Midnight Rock Heavenless
  
¥800 (US$7.06)
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Anthony Johnson - Gun Shot
7" Anthony Johnson - Gun Shot Midnight Rock Gun Shot
  
¥900 (US$7.94)
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Early B - Sunday Dish
7" Early B - Sunday Dish Midnight Rock Lecture
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Bobby Melody - Come Home
7" Bobby Melody - Come Home Midnight Rock Come Home
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Carlton Livingston - Ram Jam Session
7" Carlton Livingston - Ram Jam Session / Roots Radics - Session Dub Midnight Rock Answer
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Burro Banton - Go Home
7" Burro Banton - Go Home Midnight Rock Come Home
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Johnny Osbourne - Bring The Sensi Come
7" Johnny Osbourne - Bring The Sensi Come / Roots Radics - Bring The Dub Midnight Rock African Beat/Under Mi Sensi
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Al Campbell - She Nuh Ready
7" Al Campbell - She Nuh Ready Midnight Rock Come Home
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Sugar Minott - Up On The Level
7" Sugar Minott - Up On The Level Midnight Rock Come Home
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Anthony Johnson - Sound Clash
7" Anthony Johnson - Sound Clash / Roots Radics - Sound Dub Midnight Rock Gun Shot
  
¥840 (US$7.41)
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Barry Brown - Movements
7" Barry Brown - Movements Midnight Rock You Don't Love Me/No No No
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Jah Thomas, Toyan - Two Bad DJ Hafi Talk
7" Jah Thomas, Toyan - Two Bad DJ Hafi Talk Midnight Rock Heavenless
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Triston Palmer - Joker Smoker
7" Triston Palmer - Joker Smoker Midnight Rock Joker Smoker
  
¥1000 (US$8.82)
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Super Cat - Weh Them A Fight Fa
7" Super Cat - Weh Them A Fight Fa Midnight Rock Different Love
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Super Cat - Walk A Ton
7" Super Cat - Walk A Ton Midnight Rock Answer
  
¥980 (US$8.65)
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Burro Banton - MC Peggy
7" Burro Banton - MC Peggy Midnight Rock Answer
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Johnny Osbourne - Can't Buy My Love
7" Johnny Osbourne - Can't Buy My Love Midnight Rock Swing Easy
  
¥700 (US$6.18)
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Super Cat - Dancehall Inna New York
7" Super Cat - Dancehall Inna New York Midnight Rock Gun Shot
  
¥980 (US$8.65)
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Derrick Irie - Mad Them
7" Derrick Irie - Mad Them Midnight Rock Swing Easy
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Peter Metro, Zu Zu - Calypso Calypso
7" Peter Metro, Zu Zu - Calypso Calypso Midnight Rock Answer
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Anthony Johnson - Sitting In The Park
7" Anthony Johnson - Sitting In The Park Midnight Rock Answer
  
¥800 (US$7.06)
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Sugar Minott - Dance Hall We Deh
7" Sugar Minott - Dance Hall We Deh Midnight Rock Lecture
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Burro Banton - Badness Take Over
7" Burro Banton - Badness Take Over Midnight Rock
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Jah Thomas - Glimity Glam
7" Jah Thomas - Glimity Glam Jah All Mighty Answer
  
¥600 (US$5.29)
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Recent arrival(s)
Jah Thomas - Midnight Rap
7" Jah Thomas - Midnight Rap / G G 's All Stars - Midnight Rap Dub (Part 2) Leo US (Org) Things & Time
  
¥800 ¥600 (US$5.29)
BUY
Best selling 7"(s)
Jah Thomas, Da'Ville - Father And Son Party Time
7" Jah Thomas, Da'Ville - Father And Son Party Time Midnight Rock
  
¥570 ¥299 (US$2.64)
BUY
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