This site requires JavaScript but your browser does not support JavaScript. Please activate Javascript from security options or something like that.

ReggaeRecord.com Dub Store Sound Inc. Online Store for Reggae & Black Music - Reggaerecord.Com

Reggae & Black Music Online Store

Japanese (日本語)English
Currency:

presented by DUB STORE SOUND INC.

¥0 (US$0.00) (0 items)
Artist Hall of Fame

Count OssieText by Harry Hawks

Count Ossie was the foremost exponent of Rasta drumming; his bass drum adorned with Psalm 133 ‘Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity’. His presence continues to be felt as an intuitive act of faith demonstrating an unbroken link with Jamaican music’s shared ancestral and cultural heritage.
Date Added: May 30, 2013, Date Updated: Oct 18, 2017 Copyright (C) 2021 Dub Store Sound Inc.
Real Name: Oswald Williams
Mar, 1926 - Oct 18, 1976
Place of Birth: St. Thomas
Jamaica
Related Artist(s):
Roland Alphonso
Don Drummond
Tommy McCook
Johnny Moore
Rico Rodriguez
Ernest Ranglin
Prince Buster
Born Oswald Williams in March 1926 in the parish of St. Thomas he first became involved in the Rastafarian faith as a young man and was taught hand drumming and vocal chanting techniques in the Afro-Jamaican kumina and buru traditions by a master buru drummer known simply as Brother Job. Ossie originally learnt to play the funde and then graduated to the repeater on which he soon became a virtuoso. The close relationship between Brother Job and Count Ossie led to the creation of what is now understood as Rasta drumming and as an explicit expression of the African heritage of Jamaica.

"Look to Africa, when a black king shall be crowned, for the day of deliverance is near."

Haile Selassie (The Power Of The Trinity), whose dynasty could be traced back to King Solomon, was crowned Emperor Of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa as Ras Tafari, King Of Kings, Lord Of Lords, Conquering Lion Of The Tribe Of Judah in 1930 and prophecy was seen to be fulfilled. The disciples of the Jamaican cult of Rastafari regard Haile Selassie as the living incarnation of God on earth and the religion, which first flourished in the ghettos of Kingston during the thirties, became a harbinger for both black awareness and self-determination; concepts that would begin to become a living reality as the century progressed.

The European cultural bias of the established Christian churches in Jamaica had led to dissatisfaction and disillusionment amongst Afro-Jamaicans and the followers of Ras Tafari identified themselves as the lost tribes of Israel wandering in the wilderness awaiting a return to their spiritual homeland of Africa. The most obvious outward signs of the sect's creed were the wearing of the hair in long 'dreadlocks' and the use of marijuana as a sacrament but it was necessary to hold only two beliefs: that Ras Tafari was the living God and that salvation can come only through repatriation to Africa. Shunned and scorned by the Jamaican authorities and society the brethren first established their own communities, such as Leonard P. Howell's stronghold in Pinnacle, but, after repeated police raids, the faithful moved to the ghetto districts of Kingston where the word continued to be assimilated and spread.

In the absence of a formal hierarchical church with structured services they would meet at grounations where marijuana would be imbibed from the chalice. As the sect grew the drums, based around an older Jamaican musical form known as burra or buru, would sound as chants, songs and adapted hymns were offered up in praise of the Almighty. In Kingston the buru drums had previously been used for secular dances on holidays but they also performed a more specialised function and a custom was established where they played at dances held to welcome the return of discharged prisoners back into the community.

"Only those who knew the purpose of such a dance would normally join in. Throughout this period no drums were used at Ras Tafari meetings, although Ras Tafari members would often attend these burra dances... The old burra dance by which discharged prisoners were reintegrated with their slum communities was taken over into the Ras Tafari movement by Locksmen. The burra drums became known as akete drums and the old burra dance was replaced by the Nyahbinghi dance... As more people, including old Revival Shepherds, left pocomania for Rastafari emphasis on drumming increased."
Report On The Rastafari Movement In Kingston Jamaica

Three different types of drums, known collectively as kette (or akete or ikete) drums, were used in buru music. The large bass drum, with its deep resounding beat, the funde for syncopation and the smaller repeater which was used to lay the rhythm with the repeater drum improvising over the top. These three main drums would be augmented by a selection of different percussion instruments and home made instruments such as bottle horns or saxophones would also be incorporated. Many of Jamaica's greatest musicians could be found praising God and developing their musical skills at these gatherings but, unusually in the history of Jamaican music, no amplification was used. At this time Nyahbinghi music, in its purest form, would only ever be performed and heard at grounations in Rastafarian camps such as the Dungle and Wareika Hill and it relentless drumbeat and constant chanting became inseparably linked with serious devotees of the Rastafarian faith.

In the early fifties Count Ossie had set up his own camp in the Rennock Lodge Community in East Kingston which soon became a base for many of Jamaica's finest jazz and ska musicians and Roland Alphonso, Don Drummond, 'Big Bra' Gaynair, Tommy McCook, Johhny 'Dizzy' Moore, Ernest Ranglin and Rico Rodriguez all played with Count Ossie's Band. The band began to preach the gospel of Rasta through the power of their music at dance sessions throughout Jamaica, including sessions at Coney Island Amusement Park, which brought their message to the attention of a wider public. Count Ossie and his band would usually turn up late in the proceedings, take the stage, and slowly transform what had been a secular dance into a grounation which would often last until dawn. The dance patrons did not necessarily share their Rasta vision but the dispossessed could easily identify with "beating down Babylon" and Jamaican music began to become inextricably linked with the fight against all forms of oppression.

Unlike the established sounds Prince Buster was unable to afford to travel to America to purchase exclusive rhythm & blues records and instead searched for a new and totally unique sound to incorporate into his own recordings for his Voice Of The People sound system and record label. Buster was interested in incorporating Count Ossie's drums but had been assured that Count Ossie would never perform on a commercial record.

"Count, I want you to record just the way you and the group play all the while..."Prince Buster

Buster was not a man to take no for an answer and he finally managed to persuade Count Ossie to enter the JBC recording studio in 1961 where, with the 'Count Ossie Afro-Combo', he provided backing for the Folks Brothers. The resulting record, 'Oh Carolina', not only proved to be a major hit but was also a massively influential outing.

"The result was arguably the single most important record in Jamaican musical history."
Kevin O'Brien Chang & Wayne Chen

A number of records driven by Count Ossie's distinctive drums rapidly followed including 'Chubby' (also known as 'Cassavubu') again for Prince Buster, 'Another Moses' and 'Rock A Man's Soul' with The Mellow Cats and 'Lumumbo' with Bunny and Skitter for Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd(CS Dodd) and 'Babylon Gone' by Winston & Roy with 'Count Ossie on the African Drums' for Spanish Town producer Harry A. Mudie's Moodisc label. Throughout the sixties and seventies countless record producers would also call upon the talents of Count Ossie's drums and other exponents of the Nyahbinghi school, including Bongo Herman and Eric 'Bingy Bunny' Lamont, to add a more authentic flavour to their recordings.

The state visit of Haile Selassie to Jamaica in 1966 proved to be a major turning point for Rastafarianism and, as the sixties progressed, the cult began to move outside of rural Jamaica and the Kingston slums and an acceptance and understanding of the Rastafarian religion, its philosophy and its music steadily grew. This greater tolerance allowed Count Ossie and The Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari the freedom to develop outside of the three minute restrictions of a seven inch single and they recorded the classic albums 'Grounation' in 1973 and 'Tales From Mozambique' in 1975. Both long players were pervaded with the fervour and devotion associated with grounations and established Rasta reggae as a serious artistic and spiritual force moving the music and ideology previously associated with Rasta meetings closer to the reggae mainstream.

Count Ossie died tragically on 18th October 1976 at the National Stadium in Kingston in a freak accident when a storm caused the crowd to panic during a cricket match. He was instrumental in the development of reggae and Count Ossie's music and the message of Rastafari, of universal peace and love, will live forever.


Sources:
Steve Barrow & Peter Dalton: Reggae The Rough Guide – Rough Guides 1997
Verena Beckford: Reggae, Rastafarianism and Cultural Identity Jamaica Journal 1982
Reprinted in Chris Potash: Reggae, Rasta, Revolution Books With Attitude 1997
Kevin O'Brien Chang & Wayne Chen: Reggae Routes Ian Randle Publishers 1998
MG Smith, Roy Augier & Rex Nettleford: Report On The Rastafari Movement In Kingston Jamaica
University College Of The West Indies Institute Of Social And Economic Research Kingston 1960

Count Ossie: Remembering Count Ossie A Rasta 'Reggae' Legend Moodisc (USA) LP 1996
Harry Hawke: Liner notes Nyahbinghi Box Set Trojan TJETD094 (UK) 2003
May 30, 2013 (Oct 18, 2017 Update) Text by Harry Hawks
>>Search all items by this artist
Hit titles
Count Ossie - Remembering Count Ossie: A Rasta Reggae Legend
CD Count Ossie - Remembering Count Ossie: A Rasta Reggae Legend Moodisc US
  
¥2800 (US$24.52)
BUY
Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari - Tales Of Mozambique
CD Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari - Tales Of Mozambique Crocodisc EU
  
¥2380 (US$20.84)
Add To Want List
Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari - Grounation (2CD)
CD Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari - Grounation (2CD) Retro EU
  
¥2280 (US$19.96)
Add To Want List
Count Ossie - Remembering Count Ossie: A Rasta Reggae Legend
LP Count Ossie - Remembering Count Ossie: A Rasta Reggae Legend Moodisc US
  
¥3680 (US$32.22)
Add To Want List
Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari - Grounation (3LP)
LP Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari - Grounation (3LP) Dynamic
¥4980 (US$43.60)
Add To Want List
Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari - Tales Of Mozambique
LP Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari - Tales Of Mozambique Dynamic
  
¥1480 (US$12.96)
Add To Want List
Count Ossie - Swinging For Joy
7" Count Ossie - Swinging For Joy Moodisc US
  
¥900 (US$7.88)
Add To Want List
Count Ossie - Music Go Round & Round
7" Count Ossie - Music Go Round & Round Moodisc US
  
¥1680 (US$14.71)
BUY
Count Ossie - Babylon Gone
7" Count Ossie - Babylon Gone / Roy Ashmed - Circuit Trial Moodisc US
  
¥900 (US$7.88)
Add To Want List
Count Ossie - First Gone
7" Count Ossie - First Gone Moodisc US
  
¥1680 (US$14.71)
BUY
Count Ossie, Mellow Cats - Rock A Man Soul
7" Count Ossie, Mellow Cats - Rock A Man Soul / Lee Perry - Pronce Is In The Back Studio One/Collectors Series
  
¥850 (US$7.44)
Add To Want List
Count Ossie - So Long
7" Count Ossie - So Long Moodisc US So Long
  
¥980 (US$8.58)
Add To Want List
Count Ossie - Fire Escape
7" Count Ossie - Fire Escape Moodisc US
  
¥1680 (US$14.71)
Add To Want List
Helene Lee, Abyssinians, Max Romeo, Count Ossie's Drummers, Bongo Herman, Various - Le Premier Rasta
DVD Helene Lee, Abyssinians, Max Romeo, Count Ossie's Drummers, Bongo Herman, Various - Le Premier Rasta Kidam/Rootsblogreggae EU
¥2880 (US$25.22)
Add To Want List
Recent arrival(s)
Ronald Downer, Count Ossie, Lennie Hibbert - Ethiopian Kingdom
7" Ronald Downer, Count Ossie, Lennie Hibbert - Ethiopian Kingdom Gay Feet/Dub Store Records JPN
  
¥1580 (US$13.83)
BUY
Best selling CD(s)
Count Ossie - Remembering Count Ossie: A Rasta Reggae Legend
CD Count Ossie - Remembering Count Ossie: A Rasta Reggae Legend Moodisc US
  
¥2800 (US$24.52)
BUY
>>more
Best selling 7"(s)
Johnny, Attractions - Call Of The Drums
7" Johnny, Attractions - Call Of The Drums / Leslie Butler, Count Ossie - Call Of The Drums Rhythm 2 Gay Feet/Dub Store Records JPN
   Marvellous binghi rock steady masterpiece by Count Ossie led Johnny & The Attractions. An unreleased alternative instrumentalal cut on flip.
¥1580 (US$13.83)
BUY
Ronald Downer, Count Ossie, Lennie Hibbert - Ethiopian Kingdom
7" Ronald Downer, Count Ossie, Lennie Hibbert - Ethiopian Kingdom Gay Feet/Dub Store Records JPN
  
¥1580 (US$13.83)
BUY
Count Ossie - Music Go Round & Round
7" Count Ossie - Music Go Round & Round Moodisc US
  
¥1680 (US$14.71)
BUY
Count Ossie - First Gone
7" Count Ossie - First Gone Moodisc US
  
¥1680 (US$14.71)
BUY
Roy Shirley - To Know
7" Roy Shirley - To Know / Count Ossie - If I Did Know Moodisc US
  
¥1680 (US$14.71)
BUY
>>more
Back