King Tubby

King Tubby
King Tubby
Background information
Birth name Osbourne Ruddock
Born 28 January 1941
Origin Kingston, Jamaica
Died February 6, 1989(1989-02-06) (aged 48)
Genres Reggae, dub
Occupations Sound engineer

King Tubby (January 28, 1941 – February 6, 1989) was a Jamaican electronics and sound engineer, known primarily for his influence on the development of dub in the 1960s and 1970s.[1] Born Osbourne Ruddock,[2] Tubby's innovative studio work, which saw him elevate the role of the mixing engineer to a creative fame previously only reserved for composers and musicians, would prove to be influential across many genres of popular music. He is often cited as the inventor of the concept of the remix, and so may be seen as a direct antecedent of much dance and electronic music production.

Mikey Dread stated "King Tubby truly understood sound in a scientific sense. He knew how the circuits worked and what the electrons did. That's why he could do what he did".[1]

Contents

Biography

King Tubby's music career began in the 1950s with the rising popularity of Jamaican sound systems, which were to be found all over Kingston and which were developing into enterprising businesses. As a talented radio repairman, Tubby soon found himself in great demand by most of the major sound systems of Kingston, as the tropical weather of the Caribbean island, (often combined with sabotage by rival sound system owners) led to malfunctions and equipment failure. Tubby owned an electrical repair shop on Drumalie Avenue, Kingston, that fixed televisions and radios. It was here that he built large amplifiers for the local sound systems. In 1961/62 he built his own radio transmitter and briefly ran a private radio station playing ska and rhythm and blues which he soon shut down when he heard that the police were looking for the perpetrators.[3] Tubby would eventually form his own sound system, Tubby's Hometown Hi-Fi, which became a crowd favourite due to the high quality sound of his equipment, exclusive releases and Tubby's own echo and reverb sound effects, at that point something of a novelty.

Remixes

Tubby began working as a disc cutter for producer Duke Reid in 1968. Reid, one of the major figures in early Jamaican music alongside rival Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd, ran Treasure Isle studios, one of Jamaica's first independent production houses, and was a key producer of ska, rocksteady and eventually reggae recordings. Asked to produce instrumental versions of songs for sound system MCs or toasters, Tubby initially worked to remove the vocal tracks with the sliders on Reid's mixing desk, but soon discovered that the various instrumental tracks could be accentuated, reworked and emphasised through the settings on the mixer and primitive early effects units. In time, Tubby (and others) began to create wholly new pieces of music by shifting the emphasis in the instrumentals, adding sounds and removing others and adding various special effects, like echoes, reverb and phase effects.[1] Partly due to the popularity of these early remixes, 1971 saw Tubby's soundsystem consolidate its position as one of the most popular in Kingston and so he decided to open a studio of his own.

Dub music production

King Tubby's production work in the 1970s would see him become one of the best-known celebrities in Jamaica, and would generate interest in his production techniques from producers, sound engineers and musicians across the world. Tubby built on his considerable knowledge of electronics to repair, adapt and design his own studio equipment, which made use of a combination of old devices and new technologies to produce a studio capable of the precise, atmospheric sounds which would become Tubby's trademark. With a variety of effects units connected to his mixer, Tubby was able to 'play' the mixing desk like an instrument, bringing instruments and vocals in and out of the mix (literally 'dubbing' them) to create an entirely new genre known as dub music.[1]

Using existing multitrack master tapes—his small studio in fact had no capacity to record session musicians—Tubby would re-tape or 'dub' the original after passing it through his 12 channel custom built MCI mixing desk, twisting the songs into unexpected configurations which highlighted the heavy rhythms of their bass and drum parts with minute snatches of vocals, horns and Piano/Organ. These techniques mirrored the actions of the sound system selectors, who had long used EQ equipment to emphasise certain aspects of particular records, but Tubby was able to use his custom-built studio to take this technique into new areas, often transforming a hit song to the point where it was almost unrecognizable from its original. One unique aspect of his remixes or dubs was the result of creative manipulating of the built-in highpass filter on the MCI mixer he had bought from Dynamic Studios. The filter was controllable by a large knob—aka the 'big knob' - which allowed Tubby to introduce a dramatic narrowing sweep of any signal, such as the horns, until the sound disappeared into a thin squeal.

Tubby engineered/remixed songs for Jamaica's top producers such as Lee Perry, Bunny Lee, Augustus Pablo and Vivian Jackson that featured artists such as Johnny Clarke, Cornell Campbell, Linval Thompson, Horace Andy, Big Joe, Delroy Wilson, Jah Stitch and many others. In 1973, he built a vocal booth at his studio so he could record vocal tracks onto the instrumental tapes brought to him by various producers. This process is known as 'voicing' in Jamaican recording parlance. It is unlikely that a complete discography of Tubby's production work could be created based on the number of labels, artists and producers with whom he worked, and subsequent repressings of these releases sometimes contained contradictory information. His name is credited on hundreds of b-side labels, with the possibility that many others were by his hand yet uncredited, due to similarities with his known work.

By the later part of the decade, though, King Tubby had mostly retired from music, still occasionally mixing dubs and tutoring a new generation of artists, including King Jammy and Scientist. In the 1980s he built a new, larger studio with increased capabilities, and focused on the management of his own labels, Firehouse, Waterhouse and Taurus, which released the work of Anthony Red Rose, Sugar Minott, Conroy Smith, King Everald and other popular musicians.

Death

King Tubby was shot and killed on February 6, 1989 by an unknown group of people outside his home in Duhaney Park, Kingston upon returning from a session at his Waterhouse studio.[4] It is thought that the murder was probably an attempt at robbery.

Discography

With Augustus Pablo

With The Aggrovators

  • Shalom Dub (1975)
  • Dubbing In The Backyard (1982)

With Prince Jammy

  • His Majesty's Dub (1975)
  • First, Second And Third Generation Of Dub (1981, with Scientist)

With Lee "Scratch" Perry

  • Blackboard Jungle (1973)
  • King Tubby Meets The Upsetter At the Grass Roots of Dub (1975)

With Bunny Lee

  • Dub From The Roots (Total Sounds, 1974)
  • The Roots Of Dub (1975)

Other Collaborations

  • Yabby You - King Tubby's Prophecy Of Dub (1976)
  • Harry Mudie - Harry Mudie Meets King Tubby in Dub Conference Vol. 1 (1975)
  • Niney the Observer - Dubbing with the Observer (Trojan, 1975)
  • Larry Marshall - King Tubby's Meets Larry Marshall (Java, 1975)
  • Roots Radics - Dangerous Dub: King Tubby Meets Roots Radics (Copasetic, 1981)
  • Sly & Robbie - Sly & Robbie Meet King Tubby (Vista Sounds, 1985)
  • King Tubby the Dubmaster with the Waterhouse Posse (Vista Sounds, 1983)

Compilations

  • King Tubby & The Aggrovators & Bunny Lee - Bionic Dub 1975-1977
  • King Tubby & The Aggrovators & Bunny Lee - Straight to I Roy Head 1973-1977
  • King Tubby & The Aggrovators - Creation Dub 1973-1977
  • King Tubby & The Aggrovators - Dub Jackpot 1974-1976
  • King Tubby & The Aggrovators - Dub Gone Crazy 1975-1979
  • King Tubby & The Aggrovators - Foundation of Dub 1975-1977
  • King Tubby Meets Scientist in a World of Dub (Burning Sounds, 1996)
  • King Tubby Meets Scientist at Dub Station (Burning Sounds, 1996)
  • Glen Brown & King Tubby: Termination Dub 1973-1979 (Blood & Fire, 1996)

References

  1. ^ a b c d Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. pp. 356–357. ISBN 1-904041-96-5. 
  2. ^ Stratton, Jeff (March 3, 2005). "Dub from the Roots". Miami New Times. http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2005-03-03/music/dub-from-the-roots/. 
  3. ^ Bbc.co.uk 2005 interview with King Jammy by Robbo Ranx
  4. ^ "Icon - King Tubby reigns". Jamaica Gleaner News. 25 March 2008. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20080325/ent/ent4.html. 

External links


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