Delroy Wilson

Delroy Wilson

Most Popular Songs

     Better Must Come

     Rain From The Sky

     Hey Jude

     This Dancing Mood

Bookings and Current Status

Born 5 October 1948
Origin Kingston, Jamaica
Died 6 March 1995
Kingston, Jamaica
Genres Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae
Instruments Singer, songwriter
Years active 1961 – 1980s
Labels Studio One

Delroy Wilson Biography

Delroy Wilson was born on October 5, 1948 in the Kingston neighborhood of Trenchtown. Raised in an extremely poor family, Delroy passed the time by singing. In his adolescence, his phenomenal talent became his ticket out of the ghetto. Wilson burst onto the Jamaican music scene in 1961 when he released his first single, “Emy Lou”, for record producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd at the age of 13.

Delroy Wilson early years with Coxsone yielded a number of ska hits; the biggest of which was the Lee Perry-written “Joe Liges”, an attack on rival producer and former Dodd employee, Prince Buster. This was followed by another Perry-written attack on Buster, “Spit in the Sky”. Further singles followed, including “One Two Three”, “I Shall Not Remove”, “Look Who Is Back Again” (a duet with Slim Smith), and another anti-Buster song, “Prince Pharaoh”, notably the only record featuring the voice of Dodd himself.

Delroy Wilson voice matured as he left his teens, around the time of ska’s transition to rocksteady. This period in the late 1960s produced many hits including several of the first rocksteady records, “Dancing Mood”, “Jerk in Time” (with the Wailers), “Feel Good All Over”, “I’m Not a King”, “True Believer in Love”, “Rain From the Skies”, “Conquer Me” and “Riding For A Fall”. “Won’t You Come Home”, a duet with Ken Boothe on a rhythm originally cut by The Conquerors for Sonia Pottinger has become one of the most-versioned Jamaican tracks ever.

After leaving Studio One,Delroy Wilson recorded for numerous other producers with varying degrees of success. He also set up his own short-lived W&C label along with Wilburn Cole, and the similarly-fated Links label with Ken Boothe, The Gaylads and The Melodians. He enjoyed success with Bunny Lee in the late 1960s and early 1970s with tracks such as “This Old Heart of Mine”, “Footsteps of Another Man”, and “Better Must Come”.

His double A-side “It Hurts”/”Put Yourself in My Place” was a skinhead favorite and narrowly missed UK chart success. He recorded a version of “Run Run”, a song he had originally recorded for Dodd, for maverick producer Keith Hudson. 1970 saw Wilson’s first tour of the UK, where he also recorded a number of songs for the Trojan record label.

In 1972, Michael Manley’s People’s National Party chose Wilson’s “Better Must Come” as their election campaign song. The same year saw the release of one of his most popular songs, “Cool Operator”, which became his nickname. He worked with a string of producers in the years that followed, including Joe Gibbs (“Mash Up Illiteracy”, “Pretty Girl”), Gussie Clarke (“Love”), Winston “Niney” Holness (“Rascal Man”), Harry J (“Ask The Lonely”), and Joseph Hoo Kim (“It’s a Shame”).

In 1976, he recorded a cover of The Wailers’ “I’m Still Waiting” for Lloyd Charmers, which was hugely popular, and enjoyed some cross-over success, and was followed by the album Sarge, which is considered one of his strongest. Also a Bob Andy produced song, “The Last Thing On My Mind” rose to number one in Jamaica.

Delroy Wilson continued the run of success until the end of the decade, but his career floundered during the early 1980s with releases less common. His fortunes revived in the digital age with releases for King Jammy (“Don’t Put The Blame On Me”) and Bunny Lee (“Ease Up”) with new albums following, but he again drifted out of the limelight. With his health declining, he was best remembered for his earlier work.

In 1994, Wilson’s enduring legacy to Jamaican music was recognized with a special plaque awarded to him by the Jamaican government and presented by then Prime Minister, Percival Noel James Patterson.

Delroy Wilson died on March 6, 1995 at Kingston’s UWI hospital after falling into a coma due to complications from cirrhosis of the liver brought on by years of alcohol abuse. He was just 46 years old.

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