Lord Gellys – The Hardest Working Sound in London!
Back in 1953, an eleven year old boy used to look up to his father who was a musician teaching people how to play musical instruments. At that time back in Jamaica, Fitzgerald Gelly started following a sound called King Lattibuddier and he eventually joined it. In 1961, Fitzgerald came to England and started doing a blues spot alongside his friend Mr Mullins. This progressed to playing at weddings and other blues parties. However, his love for music fuelled him to start his own sound system called Lord Gellys. The original founders of the sound consisted of Fitzgerald, his brother Lincoln, their brother-in law and Berry who was the Wizard and in 1964, Lord Gellys was formed. Around 1976, Berry left the sound to Fitzgerald and Lincoln and between the two of them, Lord Gellys has come to the stage it is today. Most of the sound members come from a musical or sound system background and a few were with other sounds prior to joining Lord Gellys. Although they all came from various places including Jamaica, Grenada, New York and London, there is a common bond that binds the sound together – their love of music. Classifying themselves as a juggling sound, Gellys are quick to point out that they would clash if called for and in the words of Farda Fitzgerald Gelly, “if it come to the case of clashing, we can defend weself”‘. Since the sound’s inception, it has been steadily gaining popularity, especially in their home town of London.
A weekend can scarcely pass without Lord Gellys playing at a venue or featuring at an event. Walk into any record store and at least fifty percent of the flyers therein will herald the name of this sound. One of their main selectors is Andrew Fresh Kid. At twenty-seven, he’s the youngest member of the sound and began his life in St Catherine, Jamaica. At the age of eleven, he started playing on his dad’s sound system, Hollywood, where some of his inspiration stemmed from. He also admired Glamma Wayne out of Gemini sound system. Seeing people ‘brukin out on the dancefloor’ is one of the things he enjoys most about being in a sound.
Alongside Black Finger, Farda Gelly’s nephew, Fresh Kid comes up with ideas for dubs. They discuss these with Farda Gelly and so far one of Fresh Kid’s favourites is Tony Curtis & Delly Ranks ‘Tell A Gal To Leave Your Man Alone’. Delly Ranks, along with Bob Marley and Beenie Man, is one of Fresh Kid’s favourite artists. The New York connection in the sound comes from Crazy Ric. Although born in Jamaica, he was raised in the USA and was also from a musical family. At around fourteen, he used to watch his dad play music and then decided at seventeen to join Spectrum Disco. After being with them for six years, he left and created his own sound, King Odyssey, which eventually ‘merged’ as he puts it, with Lord Gellys. Crazy Ric’s favourite artists include Bounty Killer and Luciano; hence his favourite dub is Luciano’s ‘Messenger’. His inspiration to get into the sound business included Stereomars and his idol was Rory out of Stone Love. There are a few Londoners in the sound including Mikey G, Glamma G and Phil Silver. Mikey and Glamma are selectors and both got into music around the ages of fifteen to sixteen. Mikey was not with a sound before Gellys, but Glamma used to follow his brother’s sound, Mombassa, until he joined Sir Higgins of Brixton, South London. Phil Silver is the man who maintains the sound. He is ‘the caretaker’, but before Gellys he was with two South London sounds, Addis Ababa and Construction ESQ. Although music was not in his upbringing, he used to sneak out to listen to sounds. There is one other veteran in the sound from Grenada called Yellow Man. He’s been with Gellys for eighteen years and prior to that was with a North London sound called St Francis. Yellow Man was inspired to get into the business by Saxon sound system and has not looked back since. So far the sound has toured France, Belgium, Jamaica and some areas of England, but they would love to go to Japan for the first time as they believe the people over there really enjoy reggae music. Ranking in their most memorable dasha World Movement in November 1998.
Farda Gelly is very vocal in what he thinks about the direction dancehall music is going in at present. He feels that ‘when people take the lyrics and put them into actions, that’s wrong’. The negative aspects should be eradicated because ‘music brings people together in a wider understanding’.
None of the sound members could imagine doing anything apart from being in the sound business, but advised up and coming sounds to keep their equipment in good order and their hearts clean.
As for the future, Farda Gelly wants to go ‘up the ladder until the four corners of the earth can say I’ve heard of Lord Gellys’, but their message to their fans is for them to keep on supporting Lord Gellys because they’re here and they’re here to stay!