Ska and Rocksteady pioneer Prince Buster died on the 8th of September, at his home in Miami at the age of 78. Cited as creating the ska sound when he told his band to play on the off-beat, his influence on Jamaican music was vast. Buster (real name Cecil Campbell), a street boxer, teamed up with sound-system supremo Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, initially as a minder, before going it alone with his own system. Though it was his forays into recording that made his name. Tracks like ‘Oh Carolina’ and ‘Little Honey’ defined the new Jamaican sound.
He was the first Jamaican to have a UK hit in 1965 with ‘Al Capone’, but it was the ska revival a decade later that revered him. Madness took their name from one of his songs and covered it, along with their cover of Buster’s ‘One Step Beyond’. Their song ‘The Prince’ was also a homage to him. The Specials hit, ‘Gangsters’ reworked the riff from ‘Al Capone’ and parodied the “Al Capone guns don’t argue” spoken-word intro, as a stab at former manager Bernie Rhodes.
Prince Buster will be remembered as the undisputed King of Ska.