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Legendary Reggae Producer Willie Lindo Remembers Country Singer Mac Davis

Legendary Reggae Producer Willie Lindo
Willie Lindo

by Howard Campbell

SOUTH FLORIDA – Though Mac Davis ‘gave’ him his biggest hit song as a producer, Willie Lindo never met the American country singer who died September 29 in Nashville, Tennessee at age 78.

Lindo, head of Heavy Beat Records in Fort Lauderdale, produced Boris Gardiner’s cover of I Wanna Wake up With You, which topped the British national chart in the summer of 1986.
It was originally done in 1980 by Davis (as I Wanta Wake up With You), who rose to fame as a writer in the late 1960s with classic songs like Memories and In The Ghetto for Elvis Presley.
Lindo first heard I Wanta Wake up With You while he was a session musician at Federal Records in Kingston, Jamaica. He wanted to do a cover version and felt Gardiner was the man for the job but the singer was reluctant.
“Bwoy, him never like it. In fact, is three years before him voice it; him jus’ never like di song,” Lindo recalled.
I Wanna Wake up With You was the third song Lindo produced for Gardiner in whose band he played guitar during the 1970s. The first was a cover of Jim Reeves’ Guilty, followed by another Davis original, Let’s Keep it That Way.
Interestingly, saxophonist Dean Frasier’s instrumental rendition of I Wanna Wake up With You was released before Gardiner’s vocal version, which Lindo said features a “rough voice”.
“He (Gardiner) wasn’t big into di song at all so he jus’ did dat. But he’s such a great singer it came out good with even a rough voice,” Lindo stated.
I Wanna Wake up With You spent three weeks at number one in the United Kingdom in August, 1986. It remains the biggest commercial success for producer and singer.
Mac Davis was popular in Jamaica through songs like It’s Hard to be Humble and Why Don’t we All Just Get Stoned.
Jamaica has a strong country music following going back to the 1960s and 1970s. Acts like Reeves, Skeeter Davis Marty Robbins, Kenny Rogers and Crystal Gayle are fixtures on radio stations there.

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