U-Roy revolutionized the musical style of Reggae in 1969 through Toasting. “toasting” rapping over “versions” of popular songs remixed by King Tubby. Considered one of Jamaica’s first Deejay stars, “U-Roy raised the art of toasting to new heights. He didn’t just spit a few phrases here and there, he rode the riddim from the starting gate to the last furlong”. The very first Rapper in the world!! U-Roy working with Duke Reid created a “version” of the Paragons’ “Wear You to the Ball” which became the first “toast” record to make an impact in 1969!!
Born Ewart Beckford, on 21 September 1942 in Jones Town, Jamaica, U-Roy OD musical career began in 1961 when he began deejaying at various sound systems. This included a stint operating Sir Coxsone Dodd’s Number Two set, while King Stitt “The Ugly One” ran the main set. U-Roy eventually worked with King Tubby at Duke Reid’s Sound System in the late 1960s. Around this period, King Tubby had started to experiment with his studio equipment in an attempt to create new effects and sounds, which would eventually lead to a new style of reggae called dub music. With U-Roy as his most prominent deejay and with access to some of Treasure Isle Studios’ finest rocksteady rhythms, King Tubby’s new sound became extraordinarily popular and U-Roy became a local celebrity. However, his first single – “Earth’s Rightful Ruler” – was not a King Tubby collaboration; it was recorded with Peter Tosh for Lee “Scratch” Perry.
He recorded Dynamic Fashion Way (his first successful release) for Keith Hudson in 1969,and then went on to work with almost every major producer on the island: Lee Perry, Peter Tosh, Bunny Lee, Phil Pratt, Sonia Pottinger, Rupie Edwards, Alvin Ranglin and Lloyd Daley.
In 1970, Jamaican singer John Holt who was the lead vocalist of The Paragons became a fan of U-Roy’s technique. Working with Duke Reid, U-Roy’s fame grew through a series of singles, including “Wake the Town” and “Wear You to the Ball”.
U-Roy’s success continued throughout the 1970s, perhaps most famously with the album Dread in a Babylon, produced by “Prince” Tony Robinson and propelled by the album’s skank smash hit “Runaway Girl”. The album cover featured an iconic picture of U-Roy disappearing in a thick cloud of cannabis smoke while holding a chalice, and included the song “Chalice in the Palace”,
U-Roy had become one of Jamaica’s biggest stars by the early 1980s, also garnering significant acclaim in the United Kingdom.
U-Roy was awarded Jamaica’s Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer on 15 October 2007.
The music of U-Roy was frequently played on Joe Strummer’s London Calling (BBC World Service) radio show.
The Jamaican reggae living legend is back on the worldwide stage with a brand new album: Pray Fi Di People will release in October 9th 2012 after 10 years of absence in the studios!
This album confirms again the Jamaican toaster’s talent with a roots sound which followed his time and which is claiming peace respect and music’s universality.
We have to go back in the 60’ and the sound systems’ success in Jamaica to observe the first deejays’ introduction including Ewart Bekford alias U-Roy. Quickly his way of singing became a way to express yourself. Although his first tracks were not a big success he achieved the Jamaican charts with his single «Wake the Town». Daddy U-Roy clearly invented a new style and this particularly way he has to comment and talk on instrumental versions will become his signature. In addition to his developed skill with words U-Roy distinguish himself with an unique tone of voice. From de high to the law sounds U-Roy don’t drop the melody and his heavy flow. With the getting of dub his talent exploded and Daddy U-Roy became the «Godfather» creating an exceptional period of productivity and creation in the Jamaican island in turmoil in that time.
The biggest will fight to compose with him, Mad Professor, Lee Perry, Joe Gibbs, King Tubby or Duke Reid… U-Roy produced some musical bombs for them which flowed around the globe and the worldwide sound systems.
Today Daddy U-Roy is back with Pray Fi Di People which tracks a lifetime career and communicates modern visions and ideas of a man who defends diversity pluralism and sharing since more of 50 years.
The album is totally part of this 21th century through contemporary texts modern melodies and featuring with the greatest reggae singers of this 10 last years.
U-Roy puts the emphasis on the new generation with a bright future and full of creativity! His lasting style is perfectly adapted to translatean universal movement, a movement which will take again colours and humanity with Pray Fi Di People!