Reggae Legend Dandy Livingstone Making a Comeback

Reggae Legend Dandy Livingstone Making a Comeback

Dandy Livingstone

by Howard Campbell

KINGSTON, Jamaica – In 1967, reggae singer Dandy Livingstone recorded Rudy, A Message to You, an ode to the ‘rude boy’ culture that was prevalent in Jamaica, and which found its way to the United Kingdom. Approaching his 76th birthday, he is taking another crack at the charts.

They Call us Legends is the title of Livingstone’s comeback song, his first release in nearly a decade. It is from a year of recording sessions he has done with musician/producer Paul “Computer Paul” Henton, whose production credits include Jimmy Cliff’s I Can See Clearly Now from the 1993 Cool Runnings soundtrack.

The ska-inspired They Call us Legends was released in April in the UK on vinyl, a deliberate strategy according to Livingstone.

“People always ask me for vinyl. It’s a natural thing for this kind of music to be on vinyl,” he said.

A mini tour of the UK in 2016 influenced Livingstone to return to the studio. That country retains a large fan base for ska and Jamaican music from the 1960s and 1970s.

“The response was tremendous, it even surprised me! I didn’t know people there still knew Dandy Livingstone,” he said, laughing.

Livingstone was born Robert Thompson in Kingston, Jamaica but moved to the UK in 1959 at age 16. He spent 24 years there, enjoying a fruitful career that produced hits like Rudy, A Message to You, Suzanne Beware of The Devil and Big City.

Rudy, A Message to You was an underground favorite, especially among working-class white British youth called Skinheads. It has been covered with great success by ska band The Specials and to a lesser extent, Amy Winehouse.

Released in 1972, Suzanne Beware of The Devil is Livingstone’s biggest hit. That song earned him a slot on the popular Top Of The Pops television show.

Returning to Jamaica in 1983, Livingstone retired from the music industry and established himself as a successful businessman. He and his daughter Chinue operate two trendy stores at the national airport in Kingston, but he could not resist the lure of making music again.

“I’ve enjoyed recording again, it had been a while. Paul says I should release another song before end of year, but we’ll wait and see how it goes,” he said.

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