Friday, May 24, 2024

Ska Music Pioneer Prince Buster Dies at 78

Prince Buster
Prince Buster

*Prince Buster, the Jamaican musician widely credited with pioneering ska and rocksteady music, died in Miami on Thursday at the age of 78, his son Kareem Ali confirmed to the Jamaican Observer.

According to the report, Prince Buster was ailing for some time, after suffering a series of strokes.

Buster was born Cecil Bustamente Campbell in Kingston, in 1938 and came to prominence in the 1960s, pioneering the sound that would come to be known as ska. His decision to use a syncopated beat on tracks such as “Little Honey,” “They Got to Go” and “Thirty Pieces of Silver” is credited as pivotal in ska music’s development and he gave himself the moniker “King of Ska.”

A boxer in his youth, Prince Buster converted to Islam after meeting Muhammad Ali.

Prince Buster
Prince Buster

Via Rolling Stone:

Few were as prolific or successful as Prince Buster (both as singer and producer) in the 1960s, with a near-limitless stream of his songs — 1963’s “Madness,” 1964’s “Al Capone,” 1967’s “Judge Dread” — becoming hits. Campbell released dozens of of recordings annually, eventually helping to spearhead ska’s transition to the slower, more sinewy rocksteady in the mid-1960s. He traveled extensively, becoming Jamaican music’s first international superstar, especially in the U.K., before Bob Marley.

In the early 1970s, after producing for numerous Jamaican DJs, Campbell heavily slowed down his output and moved to Miami. He essentially retired in 1973, but watched as his influence took over a new wave of ska musicians in the U.K. (Madness named themselves after Campbell’s hit and their first single, “The Prince,” became a Top 20 hit.) He returned to the stage in the late 1980s, touring with the Skatalites as his backing group, and began recording new music in the early 1990s.

In 2001, Campbell received the esteemed Order of Distinction in Jamaica for his contribution to the country’s music industry.

He is survived by his wife Mola Ali and his children.

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