Justin Hinds

Reggae singer

Justin Hinds was one of Jamaica's most celebrated singers. Utilising an uncommon vocal style that held echoes of his country upbringing, fusing folk saying and proverbs with gospel overtones, Hinds produced significant hits throughout the ska, rocksteady and roots reggae periods and enjoyed subsequent international popularity through collaborative works released overseas.

Justin Hinds, singer and songwriter: born Steer Town, Jamaica 7 May 1942; married (three sons); died Steer Town 17 March 2005.

Justin Hinds was one of Jamaica's most celebrated singers. Utilising an uncommon vocal style that held echoes of his country upbringing, fusing folk saying and proverbs with gospel overtones, Hinds produced significant hits throughout the ska, rocksteady and roots reggae periods and enjoyed subsequent international popularity through collaborative works released overseas.

He was born in Steer Town, a village nestled in the hills of rural St Ann, where his father worked as a quarryman and stonemason. Justin Hinds briefly trained as a mechanic in his teens before working informally in the tourist industry, teaching foreigners to scuba dive and performing rhythm and blues songs for them on the beach.

In the late 1950s Hinds formed a harmony trio with his co-workers Dennis Sinclair and Egorton "Junior" Dixon; they named the group the Dominoes in deference to the New Orleans legend Fats Domino. When the radio disc jockey Charlie Babcock directed them to the record producer Duke Reid in 1963, Reid arranged a recording session which yielded two hits: "Carry Go Bring Come" was a harmonically brilliant number decrying gossipmongers, that topped the Jamaican charts for eight weeks, while the equally compelling "Stone That the Builder Refuse" was also popular.

Hinds quickly became Reid's most successful vocalist in the ska period and numerous other hits followed, including the vexatious "Botheration", the ribald "Rub Up Push Up", "The Higher the Monkey Climbs", a warning to street gangs called "No Good Rudy", the boastful "Here I Stand", and an updated "Carry Go Bring Come", adapted for the slower rocksteady style that ruled Jamaica in 1967. Then, as the new sound of reggae came to the fore in 1969, Hinds hit again with the folk wisdom of "Drink Milk" and the provocative "Take Heed".

Hinds continued to work for Reid until the veteran producer became ill, whereupon he began to record for Reid's associate, Sonia Pottinger. However, disputes quickly ended their partnership and Hinds began working with Jack Ruby, a sound system operator based in Ocho Rios. The resultant albums Jezebel (1976) and Justin Time (1979) were issued abroad by Island Records (and attributed to Justin Hines).

Then, after cutting a few more tracks for Pottinger, including the moving "Wipe Your Weeping Eyes" in 1978, Hinds retreated from the music business for the better part of a decade, until the independent label Nighthawk brought him and the original Dominoes back into the recording studio in 1985 for the superb Travel With Love; a second album, Know Jah Better, was released by the company in 1992.

Hinds was approached by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones in 1995 to participate in the Wingless Angels project, creating a beautiful acoustic album of traditional Rastafari chants recorded in the open air in Steer Town. More recently, Hinds led the group Jamaica All Stars; they toured extensively and recorded two albums, Back to Zion and Right Tracks.

David Katz



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