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Put It Down: An Interview with Welton Irie. Pt 1 « DanceCrasher

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Put It Down: An Interview with Welton Irie. Pt 1

An interview conducted on October 22 2008. Outside the Dub Club, Echo Park, California.
(At a show featuring Tippa Irie, Welton Irie, and Tippa Lee)
Interview by Michael Villet

Welton Irie - Mr Irie[MV] So you started in ’76 – what about before then, what were your inspirations when you were starting out? What sounds did you check as a youth, you know?

[WI] Well I used to listen to this guy Ranking Trevor, deejayed King Attorney.

[MV] Him and U Brown, right?

[WI] Yeah. And then he started recording, and when I heard him now, I said I wanted to be a DJ. The first sound I went on was Sir John, the President, which later become Stereophonic.

[MV] Was Flux and them on the sound at that time yet?

[WI] No, not yet.

[MV] Just Big John?

[audio:http://www.dancecrasher.co.uk/stereophonic1980murrayshideout.mp3]
Welton Irie on Stereophonic Hi Fi, May 1980

[WI] Me and some other guy, no, Big John didn’t play, he was the owner for the sound, he own it. There was some other guy playing. At that time Flux used to lift up box, until he became a selector. We change the name from Sir John the President to Stereophonic. And when I left Stereophonic I went to Gemini and . . .

[MV] Could we talk about – when you were on Stereophonic, you started in ’76, you said? And so when did the other deejays start joining the sound? So like, Echo and Django and those guys, Ringo?

[WI] Oh, I’m not quite sure of the year, but I left. When I was there, they weren’t there. That’s it, so I don’t know when.

[MV] So then sometimes, on the tapes, you know, sometimes you just come back and do a thing for the sound?

[WI] Yeah, you pass through, right, if I have nothing doing, I will pass through. that’s how it was back in those days, a deejay will pass through another sound, and do a couple of lyrics and move on again. That’s how it was.

[MV] I see, so you actually stopped being a Stereophonic deejay.

Welton Irie[WI] Yeah, and I went to Gemini Disco. I was there for a while, and then I left there, went to Virgo . . .

[audio:http://www.dancecrasher.co.uk/VirgoPre-980Kingston.mp3]
Welton Irie on Virgo Hi Fi, Kingston ’79(?)

[MV] Wait, so when you were there, who was there at the same time?

[WI] Just me alone. Me!

[MV] You alone!

[WI] Yeah.

[MV] Just you? OK.

[WI] At the time it was just one deejay to a sound. One deejay would stand up all night and chant the mike all night.

[MV] Some of the written sources say things about you and Lone Ranger being deejay spars – is that really true?

[WI] Yeah yeah man, we started off together, yeah man, from we started off deejaying together. First recording I did was with Lone Ranger at Studio One, a track called “Chase them Crazy.”

[MV] Right, right, Mr. Bassie.

[audio:http://www.dancecrasher.co.uk/chasethemcrazy.mp3]
Welton Irie & Lone Ranger – Chase Them Crazy

[WI] Right!

[MV] Now, other things at Studio One – there’s that John Holt tune, with you doing the deejay part on the 12″, right. [“Why Can’t I Touch You”]

[WI] Yeah, yeah!

[MV] Was there anything else?

[WI] Yeah, I’ve got at least eight more songs that hasn’t been released, no, cause at Studio One, he has so many music he can’t keep track of all of them.

[MV] What kind of rhythms were those over, do you remember?

[WI] Yeah man, I’m on this Alton Ellis riddim called Pearl. And I’m on the Heavenless. And I’m also on Pick up the Pieces, Lone Ranger is on that also with “Quarter Pound of Ishens,” and which other one – couple more riddim, I can’t remember ’cause it’s been so long, you know! Cause the first time I went to Studio One, it was 1977. That was when me and Lone Ranger did “Chase them Crazy,” and that day I did about four more songs, I don’t remember them though, it’s been so long, you know what I mean? But Lone Ranger was really the Studio One deejay!

[MV] Yeah, yeah, he cut a few LPs for them.

[WI] Right, I did most of my recording at Channel One and Joe Gibbs.

[MV] A little bit later though, right?

Lone Ranger & Welton Irie - Big Fight[WI] Yeah, yeah, a little bit later, yeah. And me and Lone Ranger also did a combination at Channel One, on the Joe Fraser riddim, a song called “Big Fight.” In it, I’m saying I am Mohammed Ali, and Lone Ranger is saying he is Joe Fraser, and we are in a contest, lyrically.

[audio:http://www.dancecrasher.co.uk/bigfight(cord).mp3]
Welton Irie & Lone Ranger – Big Fight (Cord)

[MV] I see.

[WI] Yeah, and that’s it. Me and Lone Ranger started together, move on, at that time he was on a sound called Soul Express, then –

[MV] Is that the same as Soul 2 Soul?

[WI] No, no.

[MV] A different thing, OK.

[WI] Soul Express was in Kingston. Then Lone Ranger left and went to Montego Bay, and that’s where he started deejaying on Soul 2 Soul.

[MV] OK.

[WI] Mm, anything else you like to know?

[MV] Yeah, yeah, a few more things! I’ve got some questions . . . So you also started deejaying for Virgo at some point, right?

[WI] Right, yeah yeah.

[MV] So that was after you left Gemini?

[WI] Yeah, and it was me alone there until –

[MV] Still you alone.

[WI] Until Lone Ranger left Soul 2 Soul and came and joined me.

[MV] About what time was that?

[WI] No, the years I can’t remember!

[MV] Can’t remember, that’s fine, it’s always –

[WI] It was about 1980! Lone Ranger came on, I remember, ’cause an election campaign going on, a very violent election campaign going on.

[MV] That was when Big John and Flux and them were –

[WI] Yeah, died, 1980. And then I left Virgo.

[MV] And then – what about the Channel One sound system? I know there’s some tapes of you –

[WI] I wasn’t an official deejay on Channel One.

[MV] Time to time?

[WI] Yeah, you just know where’s it playing, pass through, do a couple lyrics. Back in those days, you know, you had to go around and deejay for people to know you, to hear you. Ca’ in the early days, there wasn’t much recording being done by deejays, just few deejays used to go in the studio. Back in those days, deejays were in the dancehall, mostly, few deejays were in the studio recording. But in order to become recognized, to get big, you had to be in the dancehall, on the sound system. If you had no name in the dance, no studio would want to record you.

[audio:http://www.dancecrasher.co.uk/channelone79.mp3]
Channel One Hi-Fi, alongside Stereophonic, featuring Welton Irie and (a slack!) Johnny Ringo ’79.

[MV] And then at some point you must have rejoined Gemini ’cause you went with them –

[WI] Yeah, well usually what happens sometimes, you leave, and then when they miss you they will call back for you, because I went back on Gemini, with me and Ringo together now, ‘ca after I left Gemini, Ringo came on. And then when I came back on, we were there for a while.

[MV] Let’s talk about Johnny Ringo for a second, so you’d known him for a long time?

[WI] Yeah mon, before him start to deejay. ‘Ca he used to sell record in a record shop, and he was also a selector. Then after hearing me now – ‘ca we all came from the East, me, him and Lone Ranger, from the eastern part of Kingston, so we all knew each other. And after Ringo heard me, and I got big, he decided he wants to become a deejay as well, and he patterned me, until he eventually went into his own style. ‘Ca back in those days there was always a deejay that someone heard, and patterned, like – U Roy, U Brown heard him and patterned him, then Trevor patterned U Roy, until you eventually go in your own style, you find your own groove. But there’s always some deejay before.

[MV] Inspiring you.

[WI] Always.

[MV] Trinity and Big Youth.

[WI] Ah, you know exactly what you’re talking about! ‘Ca Trinity sounded like Big Youth at one point.

[MV] Then he did his own thing.

[WI] Yeah, and there were couple deejays who sounded like Dillinger, ’cause Dillinger was wicked in those days as well.

[MV] So what other sounds were you on? I think Echo Vibration, too?

[WI] Right, and Lee’s Unlimited as well.

[MV] Lee’s Unlimited, how long were you on Lee’s for?

[WI] Oh . . . less than a year, I would say.

[audio:http://www.dancecrasher.co.uk/leesunlimited84.mp3]
Lees Unlimited with Welton Irie, July 1984.

Welton Irie - Army Life[MV] Less than a year. Who else – still one deejay? Just you?

[WI] Yeah, and Ringo would come on sometimes, and then eventually now, Tippa Lee and Rapper Robert starting doing some shows with Lee’s Unlimited. This radio guy, Don Henry, he linked up with Lee’s Unlimited and was having some shows on the road. And Tippa Lee, Rapper Robert was there too, as some young deejays coming up in the business.

[MV] And Echo Vibration, who else was on the sound with you at the time?

[WI] When I went there, it was me, alone. But before me, it used to be – it was based in Kingston at one time, and at that time, Michigan and Smiley used to be the deejays for it.

[audio:http://www.dancecrasher.co.uk/echovibration.mp3]
Welton on Echo Vibration in 1982.

[MV] OK, really!

[WI] Yeah, then it left –

[MV] Who ran the sound? Who was the owner and the selector?

[WI] Dexter. What’s his name? I just remember his first name, Dexter. He’s a wicked collector when it comes to ska and rocksteady. Wicked. [Full name: Dexter Campbell] Then they left Kingston and went to St. Mary, and it was while it was in St. Mary I went on there, for about a year, yeah I deejay for about a year.

[MV] Yeah, Echo Vibration, it’s hard to find tapes for that sound.

[WI] Yeah, yeah! [Laughs]

[MV] And then later on, you deejayed a little bit for Youthman Promotion too, right?

[WI] Yeah! You know, just a likkle bit, it wasn’t for long.

[MV] You showed up on that live LP they put out [Powerhouse Presents Strictly Livestock], you know –

[WI] Youth Promotion? I didn’t know that! [Laughs]

[audio:http://www.dancecrasher.co.uk/powerhousestrictlylivestock.mp3]
Welton Irie on Youthman Promotion on the Strictly Livestock LP

[MV] Yeah, mostly it’s singers, like Jr. Reid and other young kids, but you have a tune over I’m Just A Guy, the Powerhouse cut.

[WI] Oh damn, I didn’t know. Because sometimes they’re recording and you don’t even know y’know, people come with their cassette, their tape deck, and record, and they later go on and do stuff with it that you don’t know about.

V/A - A Deejay Explosion (Heartbeat)[MV] Speaking about recording, back to Gemini, that session that got released on –

[WI] Skateland! Yeah.

[MV] That Mike Cacia session, that Deejay Explosion thing, do you want to talk a bit about that?

[WI] Yeah mon, that was official. The guys all contacted us and we got an advance, and it was in Skateland, Halfway Tree, Gemini Sound and that there’s Eek-a-Mouse, Nancy, I think Brigadier Jerry, lot of artists is on that.

[MV] Even Prince Jazzbo and Trinity and those guys passing through.

[WI] Yeah, it was some guys, it was Heartbeat label, I don’t remember where they’re from, but they decided –

[MV] The US, I think.

[WI] Ah?

[MV] I think they’re from the US.

[WI] Yeah. That was the first live album with a sound system really to be done. And it was done officially, they came with their equipment, hook it up and everything. And yeah, it was done officially. And after that you started having other live albums, like Volcano, Stur Gav, Aces, Lee’s Unlimited, but the Gemini one was the first one.

[MV] Bebo Posse.

[WI] Yeah mon.

[MV] Metromedia, you’re on a few of those tapes, did you ever really play for that sound?

[WI] No no, never, just pass through, pass through. ‘Ca if you have tapes with Cutty Ranks on it sometime, you hear a lot of other deejays. Cause back in those days, it’s not like now, the deejays used to live in love and unity. Not like now with their warring against each other. Back in my days, all the deejays were friends, all entertainers were friend. So like we had nothing doing, and we heard that, “Metromedia is playing down the road!” or Gemini, we just all went there, and got on the mike, ’cause there’s even some Gemini tapes where you will hear Sugar Minott, Michael Palmer, Tristan Palmer, Phillip Fraser, lot a artist.

[MV] Yeah, there’s a really good one that’s sort of a “singer’s showcase” that has all of those guys on it.

[WI] And it’s not official. There’s just in the party, enjoying themself and just decide to go up there for free.

[MV] So the clash vibes back then, were they friendlier too? I think there’s a tape of you on Channel One clashing Stereophonic at some point.

[WI] Yeah, it wasn’t a clash.

[MV] No, it wasn’t a clash, it was just in the dance together?

[WI] That was actually my dance. I kept that dance. There were clashes, but few, very few in those days. Very few.

[MV] Stereophonic and Stur Gav –

[audio:http://www.dancecrasher.co.uk/stereophonicvssturgav.mp3]
Stereophonic vs Stur Gav 1979
(General Echo, Madoo, and possibly Welton Irie)

[WI] Right, yeah, that was a clash. That was a clash. That was a clash. Ca – that was a clash. And that dance ended up being shot up as well.

[MV] Oh really?

[WI] Yeah, because there’s some lyrics that Echo said, um, some people took offense and came up on the sound flashing bare, and man in the crowd didn’t like that and just fire some shot in the air and the dance was over. But back in those days there weren’t many clashes.

[MV] I see. So back in that time, as a live performer, which deejays did you most enjoy changing lyrics with, which selectors did you enjoy playing for, which sounds had the biggest vibes to you?

[WI] Oh, well three main sounds that I really had vibes on was Stereophonic of course, Gemini and Virgo. And the deejay that I par with mostly back in those days was Ringo, ‘ca we were actually the first two deejays to be in the dance, deejaying combination. Like, passing the mike to each other, on the same riddim. Me and Ringo the first guys who did that in the dancehall. Yeah. Because, as I said I used to par with him a lot in those days, y’know? And it was on Gemini sound. I would hear him do a lyric, and I would say, “Ringo give me a piece yunno,” and him doing it and would pass me the mic, and I would do my piece, pass it to him.

[audio:http://www.dancecrasher.co.uk/geminicharlesstreet83.mp3]
Gemini, Charles Street 1983. Welton Irie, Johnny Ringo and Squiddly Ranking in combination.

[MV] How come you guys never recorded that much together?

[WI] Yeah, that’s strange, for some reason.

[MV] Do you have anything together?

[WI] No, no, no. For some reason. Um – I’ve got a track on the Army Life album where Ringo do a likkle harmony on it. But for some reason we never did a combination like how me and Ranger did. And in those time Ringo really wasn’t recording, either. It was sometime after Ringo started recording. But back in the early days, you know. Because, the thing is you have to be in the dancehall for a length of time before a producer said, yeah, they want you in the studio. You have to prove yourself in the dance. And, y’know? People talking about you. That’s how it was. ‘Cause sometime a producer would send for you and tell you which lyrics he want, he has a tape with you on Gemini and him listen lyrics, and it’s that him want. That’s how it was. But you had to be in the dancehall first.

[MV] So speaking of the lyrics thing, in all these live dances it’s often hard to keep track of who came up with lyrics first, you know. What were some lyrics that you originated that everyone else kind of copied afterwards?

[WI] Oh, lots of them! Lots of them, lots of them.

[MV] There’s a tape of you on Gemini getting in an argument with Michael Irie I think –

[WI] Mellow Tuffie!

[MV] Oh, oh, it’s Mellow Tuffie.

[audio:http://www.dancecrasher.co.uk/Gemini84MellowTuffieincident.mp3]
The Mellow Tuffie incident, Gemini Soundsystem 1984

[WI] Yeah, yeah, it’s “Borrow Clothes” lyric. I built it. I’ve got that CD too. And he’s in front of me doin’ it! I had to rough him up. Yeah. And um, but, it didn’t go any further than that really, and the only reason, why I took offense, is because he’s doing it in front a me! If you wanna do it, do it somewhere else, but I’m there to do my lyric and you’re doing it. But in those days it wasn’t really a big problem. Until later on, now, deejays started calling deejays pirate, and that’s when now it got out a hand. Alright, like, when I was coming up, I didn’t have access to the studio. What used to happen in those days is deejays that used to go to the studio would come to the dancehall and listen us young deejays and go and record the lyrics. But somehow it didn’t matter to us, because we weren’t even thinking of going to the studio. We didn’t know we could go into the studio. We didn’t know we could go on a plane and go abroad. ‘Ca we just love the music, and the dancehall. When bigness came upon us, we didn’t go looking to get big. Because you’re good at what you do, eventually you got big. But, didn’t think about the studio. The first time I went in the studio, it was to do a dubplate for Stereophonic. I was nervous out deh, nervous!

[MV] What was the studio?

[WI] Channel One. It was on the Answer Me Question riddim. Because, um, a guy we used to go around with called Tony Walcott, he was the one who got me and Lone Ranger in the studio.

[MV] Different Tony from the Virgo Tony, right?

[WI] Yeah, different Tony from the Virgo Tony. This is the one who launch my career, Lone Ranger, and also Carlton Livingston career. Yeah, yeah he first took us to the studio. We would be at his house rehearsing. Cause, he was very close to Channel One, so he got all their riddims on dubplate for free. He was the one who actually told them what Studio One rhythm to lick over, he would carry the Studio One record there, play it, and Sly and Robbie would play it over. Cause you if you notice Channel One songs, a lot of them are remakes of the Studio One. So he took me to Channel One and said, do some dubplate for Stereophonic, and sometimes they would play it up in the dancehall. So that was the first time I actually went round a studio mic, doing four dub for Stereophonic, while I was on Stereophonic. And it was nice to stand up and hear something playing with you, you know? And I made, I made some mistake, it was the first time. ‘Cause as I said before, we weren’t thinking about going into the studio. Nobody knew of it.

[MV] Is it a lot different to do in the studio than live?

[WI] You’re just nervous knowing that you’re in the studio, you know? Like, in the dancehall, you’re accustomed, you know the sound and what have you, if you make a mistake no problem, but in the studio engineer listen to you, and all of that, you get a little nervous. So the first time, but after that, it’s like nothing.

[MV] So your first real 45s and such were for Coxsone?

[WI] Yeah, “Chase them Crazy.”

[MV] Is it true he gave you . . .

[WI] He gave me the name Irie. I am the first Irie, let me make that plain. First Irie.

[MV] Michael Irie, Tippa Irie.

[WI] You have Alton Irie, Patrick Irie.

[MV] Clement Irie, Derrick Irie.

[WI] OK, there was also Poppy Irie, Vicious Irie.

[MV] Vicious Irie?

[WI] Yeah, but I’m the first Irie. When I got the name I didn’t even like it! That’s the strangest thing, so many guys go after it when I did “Chase them Crazy” with Lone Ranger.

[MV] So was that a big hit at the time?

[WI] No, no, it wasn’t big. But Coxsone asked Lone Ranger what’s his name, he said “Lone Ranger.” Asked me what name should he put on the record, I said “Welton.” And Coxsone said, “Welton . . . can’t just put Welton on the record.” Cause in those days deejays had big fancy name, you are either Ranking This or Ranking That, or Natty This or Jah This, so him said, “You sound irie.” In those days, “irie” was a slang for sounding good, or you look good, like a man would say, “That daughter there look irie,” that mean that girl’s look good, or “bwoy, drink that is irie!” So when he said “Irie,” I said “DAMN, that shit sound like a COUNTRYMAN name!” I didn’t like it, I didn’t like it, but it went on the record so I had to stick with it. But trust me I didn’t like that name. And only surprised to see so many other deejays come after me after that name.

[MV] So then after Studio One, where did you record next?

[WI] Channel One. Me and Lone Ranger did “Big Fight,” on the Joe Fraser, then I did a song called the “Metric System,” because Jamaica was going – just going into metric. I did that, then I did “Natty Dread A The Foreigner.”

[MV] Yeah, that’s a big tune.

[audio:http://www.dancecrasher.co.uk/dreadatheforeigner.mp3]
Welton Irie – Natty Dread A The Foreigner

[WI] Alright. The reason is that, because I sounded like Ranking Trevor, and Channel One studio just love Ranking Trevor, the owner for Channel One, Joseph Hookim, he just enjoyed me and whenever I go there to record I had no problem. For some strange reason though, me and Ranger went to Studio One, and for some reason Coxsone just love Lone Ranger style.

[MV] But not so much you?

Welton Irie - It Feels Good (Joe Gibbs)[WI] Yeah, and that’s how it is. So, I did quite a few songs at Channel One, then I did some songs for Joe Gibbs, I did a slack album.

[MV] Yeah yeah, It Feels So Good, right?

[WI] Yeah, right! And some twelve inch, and some forty fives.

[audio:http://www.dancecrasher.co.uk/keeponrunningversion.mp3]
Welton in slack style for Joe Gibbs – Keep On Running Version

[MV] Yeah, so there’s that one combination tune, “Nice Up The Dance,” with Prince Weedy.

[WI] Right.

[MV] Who’s Prince Weedy?

[WI] Oh, he was a little deejay around at the time. And what happened, it was at Joe Gibbs, and they contacted me and said that the Michigan and Smiley songs is not being sold in the islands, like Trinidad, Barbados and those places. ‘Ca I didn’t like the idea of doing back somebody’s song. That’s not me, I have enough lyrics. But because the Michigan and Smiley song was such a big hit, they wanted to capitalize on that, so they asked me and Weedy to do it. Weedy wasn’t even doing his part very well, and I even mention um, like Trinidad’s name and so in it, and they sent it down there.

[MV] I see. So, when did you start working with Glen Brown?

[WI] Oh! Oh, another thing. The Green Bay riddim, I used to do the lyrics that I did on the record in the dancehall on Gemini, ‘ca we got the 45 and play the vocal then play the version and I would deejay “Wicked Have Fe Run,” based on what the singer was singing about, “They’ll Have To Run Away.” So I just came up with “Wicked Have To Run.” And Glen Brown hear me deejay in the dance one night, and said he want me to do that style on it. I’m the first deejay to go pon the riddim. The riddim is called “Green Bay,” because the guy who sing it, he died in a shootout, and in an area called Green Bay, he was killed by soldiers.

Welton Irie - Wicked Tumbling AKA Wicked Running[audio:http://www.dancecrasher.co.uk/wickedrunning.mp3]
Welton Irie – Wicked Running AKA Wicked Tumbling

[MV] Wait, who was the guy who did the original to the track? I thought Wayne Jarrett –

[WI] No, Wayne Jarrett did a song named “Youthman” on the riddim.

[MV] Oh, yeah, yeah.

[WI] [Sings] “Youthman . . .” But this guy did [Sings] “They’ll have to run away, on a judgement day.”

[MV] Oh, yeah, that one.

[WI] But he died in a shootout with soldiers. So because he was killed in an area called Green Bay, we just started calling the riddim Green Bay. And then of course some deejays did [sings] “Green Bay killing a murder” on the riddim and stuff. There’s an album out on the riddim that Glen Brown put out [Green Bay Killing], and he sung over the lyrics, because I don’t know if he lost the guy’s tape, and the guy’s now dead, so he sing over the lyrics. But I forgot what the guy’s name [Glenroy Richards], but that guy died. So Glen Brown hear me doing that lyric, that’s the first time I’m meeting Glen Brown, and he said he wanted me to record.

[MV] About what time was that?

[WI] About 1978, I would say. Yeah. And, then now, came to New York 1982, and met up with Glen Brown again, and he said he wanted me to do an album, Ghettoman Corner. And I did that album, I didn’t know when it was release, and then now –

[MV] There’s two versions of that –

[WI] Right, what he eventually did now, was he went into business with some people in England, and he gave them some of the songs, and he also add Sylford Walker on some of the tracks, so that was a re-release this time with a combination of me and Sylford Walker. ‘Ca you notice a lot of the songs on it is also on the Ghettoman Corner album.

Welton Irie - Ghettoman Corner[MV] Right, but the Ghettoman Corner album – there were two different releases of that album. There was the one that’s easy to find in stores now, then there was another one with the same cover but with different songs.

[WI] OK – no, I don’t know ’bout it.

[MV] So the tracklist of the other one – so the first one has “Money Man Skank,” “Ghettoman Corner,” “Stone A Throw,” “Wicked Running,” “Lambs Bread,” these tunes, the other one has “Girls Up To Date” –

[WI] Oh!

[MV] “Big Apple,” “From Africa To Jamaica” . . .

[WI] Oh, didn’t know. You know, OK, ‘ca after I did the album for him I went back to Jamaica and I didn’t see him again or hear anything from him again. Until now recently now, some guys from England was in Jamaica, couple years ago, looking for me to give me some royalties, because that this time he sold them some of the rhythm, and then they compile it with Sylford Walker, and that was the Lambs Bread International album. And this is about, OK, I did this album 1982, and I’m now getting some money in 2001, no – about 2004, or 6, something, somewhere around that time. After, so that’s over twenty years! And I’m hearing that some white man out yah a look for me to give me some money fe the songs! They came, went up back, till I eventually got in touch with them, and they sent it down.

[MV] Steve Barrow and Blood and Fire.

[WI] Right, them same ones. And I respected them for that. Whether or not they rob me I don’t care. But to know that they came looking for me, got in touch, which, I did albums for a lot of Jamaican producers and I haven’t gotten a cent up till now. I can tell albums, 45s, not one cent, and to this date, internationally, the songs I did for Glen Brown are the biggest songs with me. I got a number one in Jamaica 1982, “Army Life.” That’s only known in Jamaica, and New York, the Jamaican people.

[MV] That was for Channel One, right? Hitbound?

[WI] Hitbound label, but it wasn’t their song. It was a guy named Tanka, but because he didn’t have no label in Jamaica a so, he just allow them to release it on their label. Roland Burrell is also on the riddim, Johnny Dollar, and then Yellowman came out it, “Soldier Take Over,” which is one of my lyrics as well [laughs].

[MV] Oh really!

Part 2

4 comments to Put It Down: An Interview with Welton Irie. Pt 1

  • Mike morrissey

    Amazing interview with one of the early dancehall pioneers , respect

  • iam trying to get in contact with a dj by the name of little howie. he came over to england in the 80s with the sound youthman promotions from jamacia. i have heard that he has turned a muslim. i also heard he was in south london area. he means so much to me so i would appreciate it if you can try and contact him for me and even give him my contact ,email. many thanks karina

  • Tim P

    Not sure if I can help Karina. I’ll leave the message here, maybe someone will see it who has information.

  • Steve Barrow

    Excellent interview with a real pioneer of early dancehall.
    Fascinating stuff…….

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