Jamaica's original rural folk music, called mento, could be the grandfather of reggae music coupled with significant influences around the formation of the genre. Jamaica's "country music" was inspired by African and European music in addition to by American jazz and featured acoustic guitars, banjos, bamboo saxes, hand drums and marimbula (large thumb pianos) otherwise known as rhumba boxes, which were big enough to sit on and play. There have been and a number of hand percussion instruments like maracas. Mento's vocals were built with a distinctly African sound and also the lyrics were more often than not humorous and happy. Everywhere people gathered you could learn a mento band where there were many mento and calypso competitions throughout the island. Mento also delivered Jamaica's recording industry from the 1950s if this first became positioned on 78 RPM records. Mento holds today.
Before World War II, calypso from Trinidad and Tobago had made its way into Jamaica's music and, although quite different, both were often confused. Jamaica's own calypso artists performed alongside its mento artists through the entire island, for locals and tourists alike. A calypso craze swept the U.S. and U.K. in the late 1950s as Harry Belafonte came on top of the scene. A lot of his songs were actually mento nonetheless they were more regularly referred to as calypso.
Following your war, transistor radios and jukeboxes had become widely available and Jamaicans could hear music from your southern U.S., particularly jazz and rhythm and blues from some of the greats like Fats Domino and Jelly Roll Morton, and records flooded in to the island.
And then, in early 1960s, came American R&B. With a faster and a lot more danceable tempo, the genre caught on quickly in Jamaica. Looking to copy this sound with local artists, Jamaicans added their own twists, blending in components of their Caribbean heritage, fusing it with mento and calypso and jazz, to produce a unique genre heavily driven by drums and bass and accented with rhythms around the off-beat, or the "upstroke". This purely Jamaican genre dominated the Jamaican music scene during the time and was called ... ska.
Coinciding with the festive mood in mid-air when Jamaica won its independence from the U.K. in 1962, ska stood a type of 12-bar rhythm and blues framework; playing the guitar accented the other and fourth beats within the bar, essentially flipping the R&B shuffle beat, and gave rise to this particular new sound.
Because Jamaica didn't ratify the Berne Convention for that Protection of Literary and Artistic Works until 1994, Jamaican musicians often created instrumental ska versions of songs by popular American and British artists; copyright infringement has not been a problem! The Skatalites re-made Motown hits, surf music as well as the Beatles in their own style. The Wailers' first single Simmer Down was obviously a ska smash in Jamaica at the end of 1963/early 1964 but they also covered And i also Love Her with the Beatles and As being a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan.
Even though speakers concept acquired root in Jamaica from the mid 1950s, ska resulted in its explosion in popularity also it was a major, uniquely Jamaican, industry that is constantly thrive today. Enterprising DJs with U.S. sources for that latest records would bunch passenger trucks which has a generator, turntables, and large speakers, and drive throughout the island blaring the latest hits. Essentially these sound systems were like loud mobile discos! DJs charged admission and sold food and alcohol, enabling these to profit in Jamaican's unstable economy. Thousands would sometimes gather and sound systems became big business. Amidst fierce competition, Clement "Coxsone" Dodd and Duke Reid surfaced as a couple of the star DJs of the day. Dependent upon a stable source of new music, these superstars began to produce their own records, ultimately becoming Studio One (Dodd) and Treasure Isle (Reid).
Other important ska producers were Prince Buster, whose Blue Beat label records inspired many Jamaican ska (and then reggae) artists, and Edward Seaga, who run the West Indies Records Limited (WIRL) within the 1960s but continued being Pm of Jamaica and leader from the Jamaican Labour Party in the 1980s.
As Jamaicans emigrated in good sized quantities towards the U.K., the sound system culture followed and became firmly entrenched there. Devoid of the efforts of a white Anglo-Jamaican named Chris Blackwell, other world mightn't have come to know this Jamaican model of music. Blackwell, a record distributor, moved his label on the U.K. in 1962 and started releasing records there on various labels, like the Island label. His early artists included the Skatalites, Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley. Blackwell's international breakthrough came in 1964 when his artist Millie Small hit the U.S. airwaves with My Boy Lollipop.
Back Jamaica, as American R&B and soul music became slower and smoother inside the mid-1960s, ska changed its sound and become... rocksteady.
Songs that described dances were very popular now within the U.S. and U.K, in addition to Jamaica. In the U.S., we'd The Twist, The Locomotion, The Hanky Panky and The Mashed Potato. One such dance-song in Jamaica was The Rock Steady by Alton Ellis. The reputation for this complete genre was determined by that song title.
The only noteworthy distinction between ska and rocksteady was the tempo. Both styles had the famous Jamaican rhythm guitar complemented by drums, bass, horns, vocals and a groove that kept you on your feet moving, though the drum and bass are played at the slower, more relaxed, pace and the rhythm is much more syncopated.
Rocksteady arose at any given time when Jamaica's poverty-stricken youths became disillusioned regarding their futures after Jamaica gained independence from Britain. Turning out to be delinquents, these unruly youths became known as "rude boys". Rocksteady's themes mainly dealt with love and the rude boy culture, and had catchy dance moves that had been a great deal more energetic as opposed to earlier ska dance moves. Many bass lines originally designed for rocksteady songs carry on being used in today's Jamaican music.
Being a musical style, rocksteady was short-lived, and existed only for about a couple of years. Some of the more well-known rocksteady artists were Alton Ellis, Justin Hinds and the Dominos, Derrick Morgan, The Gaylads, The Kingstonians, Delroy Wilson, Bob Andy, Ken Boothe, The Maytals and also the Paragons.