THE LEGENDARY Cecil Bustamente Campbell, aka Prince Buster, the ‘King of Ska’ has died on the 8th of September 2016 at the age of 78. The Prince was a great pioneer of Jamaican music and bequeathed a legacy of the music to the many that he influenced.
Buster was born on the famed Orange Street, the main thoroughfare in Kingston, Jamaica and gained the name ‘Prince’ due to his boxing ability with his early singing being in church and private family faith meetings.
Campbell became involved in the operational side of running Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd’s sound system in Kingston in a variety of roles, one as security in which he put his boxing ability to good use. Before long, using his experience to create his own sound system, the ‘Voice of the People’.
The singer’s career took off in the sixties with appearances such as on Ready Steady Go! and his first top twenty UK hit, ‘Al Capone’ in 1967.
He is widely credited as the foundation of ska’s revival vanguard in the late 1970s – the 2-Tone movement. With Madness naming themselves after a Buster song and their first single, ‘The Prince’, recorded as a tribute to him. Contemporaries, The Specials, also recorded a Buster track in ‘Enjoy Yourself’ in 1980.
I’m going to resist the temptation to link ‘The Ten Commandments of Man’ or ‘Big Five’ (uncensored version) here and go for perhaps the most obvious one, ‘Al Capone’. Happy memories for me as it was one of the early Ska songs that I first heard and that me and my friends danced to in local youth clubs. Happy days.
(Dedicated to Frankie Allan. Rest in Peace, buddy)