King Tubby: The creator of sounds

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Print this page Email A Friend!

This is the fifth in our daily series highlighting 55 Jamaicans who broke down barriers and helped put the country on the world stage. Each day, one personality will be featured, culminating Independence Day, August 6.

OPERATING from a match box-sized studio in Waterhouse, St Andrew, studio engineer Osbourne “King Tubby” Ruddock created sounds which redefined the Jamaican music landscape of the 1960s and '70s and still echo today.

An electrician by profession, King Tubby began his musical odyssey at 17 as a sound system operator of Tubby's Hometown Hi-Fi.

Deejays U-Roy and Dennis Alcapone were rostered acts for the sound.

However, with his knowledge of electrical circuits, he would later shift his focus to that of a studio engineer with impressive results.

His sought-after dubs provided the soundtrack for that period. He created an entirely different musical track by shifting the emphasis on the instruments and add special effects such as delays, echoes, reverbs, thunderclaps and even gunshots. These were novel sounds of the day.

Producers Bunny “Striker” Lee, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Augustus Pablo, and Vivian “Yabby You” Jackson all sought 'The King's' expertise.

Singers Johnny Clarke, Cornell Campbell, Linval Thompson, Horace Andy, Delroy Wilson and Jah Stitch also benefited from King Tubby's magic.

His most popular dub of all time is King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown with Augustus Pablo in 1976. The album was produced by Pablo, who played the melodica, piano, organ, and clarinet.

In the latter part of that decade, King Tubby slowed down and passed on his knowledge to a new generation of engineers including Lloyd “King Jammy” James and Hopeton “Scientist” Brown.

In the 1980s, Tubby constructed a larger studio in Waterhouse and oversaw his Firehouse, Waterhouse and Taurus labels.

The labels released songs by Anthony Red Rose, Sugar Minott, Conroy Smith, King Everald, and other popular musicians.

King Tubb was shot and killed on February 6, 1989 outside his home in Duhaney Park, St Andrew. He was 48.





1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon