Studio One: A Brief History Of Studio One

Studio One is one of Jamaica’s most renowned record labels and recording studios, having been described as the Motown of Jamaica. The record label was involved with most of the major music movements in Jamaica during the 1960s and 1970s including ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub and dancehall.

Dodd’s sound system was known as Sir Coxsone Downbeat (Dodd, Jamaica’s Berry Gordy, would later go on to open the first black-owned studio in Jamaica, the world renowned Studio One).

Studio One was founded by Clement “Coxsone” Dodd in 1954, and the first recordings were cut in 1963 on Brentford Road in Kingston.  Amongst its earliest records were “Easy Snappin'” by Theophilus Beckford, backed by Clue J & His Blues Blasters, and “This Man is Back” by trombonist Don Drummond.

Dodd had previously issued music on a series of other labels, including World Disc, and had run Sir Coxsone the Downbeat, one of the largest and most reputable sound systems in the Kingston ghettos. In the early 1960s the house band providing backing for the vocalists were the legendary Skatalites whose members (including Roland Alphonso, Don Drummond, Tommy McCook, Jackie Mittoo, Lester Sterling, and Lloyd Brevett) were recruited from the Kingston jazz scene by Dodd.

The Skatalites split up in 1965 after Drummond was jailed for murder, and Dodd formed new house band Sound Dimension (aka Soul Vendors, aka Soul Brothers). From 1965-1968 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 5 days a week, 12 rhythms a day, ~60 rhythms a week) with legend Jackie Mittoo as music director, Brian Atkinson (1965-1968) on bass, Hux Brown on guitar, Harry Haughton (guitar), Joe Isaacs on drums (1966-1968), Denzel Laing on percussions, and on horns (some initially and some throughout):

Roland Alphonso, Dennis ‘Ska’ Campbell, Bobby Ellis, Lester Sterling, among others on horns during the era of Rock Steady. Headley Bennett, Ernest Ranglin, Vin Gordon and Leroy Sibbles were included among a fluid line-up, to record tracks directed by Jackie Mittoo at Studio One from 1966-1968.

During the night hours at Studio One from 1965-1968, singers like Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Heptones, Ken Boothe, Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt, Ethiopians, Ken Boothe, Alton Ellis, Delroy Wilson, Bunny Wailer, Johnny Nash, among others, would put on headphones to sing lyrics to original tracks recorded by the Soul Brothers (aka Soul Vendors, aka Sound Dimension) earlier each day from 1965-1968.

These seminal recordings: “Real Rock”, “Heavy Rock”, “Jamaica Underground”, “Ten To Ten”, “Fattie Fattie”, “Puppet on A String”, “Drum Song”, “Bend Down Low”, “Artibella”, “Train is Coming”, “I’m Still In Love With You”, “Dancing Mood”, “Creation Rebel”(album, Burning Spear), “Swing Easy”, and many other tracks.  Most of which are copied and duplicated without the originators permission.

Jackie Mittoo, Joe Isaacs, and Brian Atkinson left Studio One in 1968, recorded drums and bass for Desmond Dekker’s and Toots biggest hits at other Kingston studios, then moved to Canada. Hux Brown stayed in Jamaica to record on the soundtrack ‘The Harder They Come, The Harder They Fall’, and toured in Nigeria with Toots and the Maytals and Fela Kuti.

The Soul Brothers (aka Sound Dimension, aka Soul Brothers) formed the basis of reggae music in the late 1960s, being versioned and re-versioned time after time over decades by musicians like Shaggy, Sean Paul, Snoop Lion, The Clash, String Cheese Incident, UB40, Sublime, and countless other Billboard originals and remakes trying to emulate their original Rock Steady sound at Coxsone’s Studio One. The label and studio were closed when Dodd relocated to New York City in the 1980s.

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