by Howard Campbell
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Several of reggae’s unsung heroes will get their due at the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) awards, scheduled for February when Jamaica celebrates Reggae Month.
Among them is singer Eric “Monty” Morris, a South Florida resident. He will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Morris’ career started during the ska craze of the early 1960s, alongside fellow singers Prince Buster, Derrick Morgan and Justin Hinds. His hit songs include Oil in my Lamp, Sammy Dead and Wings of A Dove.
Other previously unheralded stalwarts being recognized by the JaRIA are Lee Gopthal, co-founder of Trojan Records, drummer Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace, trombonist Vin Gordon, audio engineer Ernest Hoo Kim of Channel One studio and music producer Alvin “GG” Ranglin.
Gopthal, who died in 1997, was born in Jamaica but migrated to the United Kingdom in the early 1950s. After working as an accountant, he co-founded Trojan Records in 1968; the label became the biggest source for reggae in the UK during the 1970s, distributing several hit products including John Holt’s 1000 Volts of Holt album, and Ken Boothe’s song, Everything I Own, which topped the UK national chart in 1974.
Wallace learned his skills at the Alpha Boys School in Kingston. In the 1970s, he was a prolific session musician, working with Gordon (another Alpha alumni) on acclaimed albums like Burning Spear’s Marcus Garvey.
He earned cult status by starring as himself in the 1978 movie, Rockers.
Hoo Kim was the third of the four Hoo Kim brothers who operated Channel One. He was chief engineer and worked on numerous hit songs by acts like Delroy Wilson, The Mighty Diamonds, Ernest Wilson, The Meditations and Leroy Smart.
Ranglin is best known for his work with Gregory Isaacs in the 1970s when the singer was making a name as a lovers rock artist. He produced Isaacs’ Love is Overdue and The Border.
Also receiving JaRIA awards this year are Lady G and Garnet Silk (Icon), Dean Fraser (Mentorship) and Shabba Ranks and Wycliffe “Steely” Johnson for “Exceptional Contribution to The Reggae Industry”.