Skinhead Reggae – For The Vinyle Junkie


Skinhead is of purely British origin, it was not until well into it’s existence that it was recognized as such by the Jamaican music industry, and then became part of a feed-back loop connecting the British Isle’s to Jamaica. What is Skinhead in a Jamaican music context? In truth it could be said that almost all music, known collectively as Reggae, from the late 1960s until about c1972 could be claimed as Skinhead, because Reggae was the Skinheads music of choice, they identified with its content and form and adopted it with pride.

Bootboys or early skinheads

As with all styles and movements the story reaches back into its pre-existence. Three defining characteristics of a Skinhead, the mode of dress, the type, or class, of person, and the music, had all existed before the Skinhead had been codified. The most defining characteristic of the Skinhead is, of course, their appearance, and the hair in particular. As is well known many of the very first Skins were at one time Mods who were, for numerous reasons, many to do with fashion, disinclined to dress and behave in the evolving style and attitudes of the Hippie, a predominantly American (West Coast) middle class situation. The haircut and all of the clothes that became standard dress for the (male) Skinhead were worn previously, at one time or another, by Mods. This is not to take anything away from the style of the Skinhead, it just reinforces their commitment to some of the class values inherent in the Mod movement.

Only when Skinhead’s had asserted their existence were they able to claim the preceding (Jamaican) music as their own. This was partly because it had shared these same characteristics, and had inadvertently helped to define the Skinhead. The early Jamaican music that the Skin’s identified mostly with, were cuts like: Derrick Morgan’s Fat Man, and Eric Morris’s Humpty Dumpty, both on the Blue Beat label, and: Forward March Derrick Morgan, Miss Jamaica by Jimmy Cliff and Housewife’s Choice Derrick & Patsy, all on the Island label, it was these, and others in a similar strident or assertive vein, from the pre Ska period that would have later become part of the lexicon of Skinhead Reggae. Yet it was with Ska and the first mention of ‘Rude Boys’ that the embryonic Skinhead had matured into a recognizable entity.

Ska special…from Jamaica to the U.K.

a tribute to the ska scene in images; soundtrack featuring Derrick Morgan-Forward March, Count Ossie’s Grounation-Cool Breeze, Derrick Morgan-The Hop, Don Drummond-Man In The Street, Prince Buster-Don’t Throw Stones and The Skatalites-Guns Of Navarone.

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