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  • T. Ehrengardt (DREAD Editions)

How I met King Tubby.

The issue of BM featuring King Tubby's interview, as well as a full-length article

about Jamaica and various artists by Carl 'Jahug' Gayle.

Osbourne ‘King Tubby’ Ruddock is a key figure of Jamaican music, yet he’s quite unknown outside reggae circles. Although he invented Dub in the early 70s; although he operated the best sound system ever; although his studio has shaped the majority of the songs recorded in the roots era of the 1970s —almost nothing was known about him until we published his first biography, King Tubby-The Dub Master (DREAD Editions). The first one ever? Thirty years after he was murdered at his home? How come? Well, one of the reasons is that Tubby was a man of few words, who shied from society. Some say he didn’t like to give interviews, although he sounds quite willing on the few ones we have from him. Actually, it seems like only a very few journalists were interested in talking to him. Consequently, a lot of rumours and rearranged stories are told about Tubby and the 18 Dromilly Avenue. Everyone today was “Tubby’s best friend”, and everyone was “there” when “it happened”. It’s very hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Fortunately, we have at least one very serious and informative interview! It was published in Black Music Magazine in 1976 and its author, Carl Gayle, gave us a few details of how he met King Tubby for the book.

Carl Gayle (right). Photo Lindsay Oliver Donald-all rights reserved.

Taken from the book Portrait of A Legend and Other Folks (click on pic for more details).

Carl Gayle is himself a discreet man, who doesn’t like talking too much. But he was glad to tell us a few words. “As far as I recall I went to the small studio in Tubbys yard in Waterhouse (known as Firehouse) without prior arrangement. He was busy mending speakers in his small workshop (The Ranch, in the yard, not ot be mistaken with the studio itself— editor's note). I announced who I was and he interrupted his work to do the interview. Tubby was an electrician by trade, who built sound systems and repaired radios etc. for a living. By that time Black Music was very well known and loved by everyone in JA music. So he was happy to oblige." Carl thus obtained a precious interview. Tubby evokes the birth of his sound system, the Hometown Hi-Fi, U Roy’s rise to fame and his equipment. This interview (or article) also cast a shadow on the exact time when the police destroyed the Hi-Fi in Saint Thomas. Was it 1975 or 1976? It’s still hard to be positive about it, although in another recently unearthed interview, Tubby himself indicates the year of 1976—but it doesn’t match with other details. And then, did Tubby rebuild his sound system after the police destroyed it? Yes, he apparently did. He even played during one of the most iconic clashes of the 1970s—ever heard of Death In The Arena? Well, that's another story.

Carl Gayle’s Jamaican experience was a chaotic one—some gunman robbed him at gunpoint, some political activists threw him out of a bus, and he almost starved to death until he met producer Jack Ruby, who helped him out. Carl later published the Jahuglyman magazine and he’s currently pursuing his singing career under the name of Jahug. His interview with King Tubby remains an invaluable testimony—and the very best one.

PS: we inform our readers that ALL BOOKS have been shipped and are on their way.

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