Cecil Bustamente Campbell OD (24 May 1938 – 8 September 2016), known
professionally as Prince Buster, was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and
producer. The records he released in the 1960s influenced and shaped
the course of Jamaican contemporary music and created a legacy of work
that would be drawn upon later by reggae and ska artists.
1 Early life
2.2 1970s and beyond
5 Selected album discography
6 UK hit singles
Cecil Bustamente Campbell was born in Orange Street in Kingston,
Jamaica, on 24 May 1938. His middle name was given to him by his
family in honour of the Labour activist and first post-Independence
Prime Minister William Alexander Clarke Bustamante. In the early
1940s Campbell was sent to live with his grandmother in rural Jamaica
where his family's commitment to the Christian faith gave him his
earliest musical experiences in the form of church singing as well as
private family prayer and hymn meetings. Returning to live at
Orange Street while still a young boy, Campbell attended the Central
Branch School and St. Anne's School.
While at school Campbell performed three or four times a week at the
Glass Bucket Club, as part of Frankie Lymon's Sing and Dance Troupe;
rock 'n' roll-themed shows were popular during the 1950s, with the
Glass Bucket Club establishing a reputation as the premier music venue
and social club for Jamaican teenagers at that time. Upon
leaving school he found himself drawn to the ranks of followers that
supported the sound system of Tom the Great Sebastian. Jamaican sound
systems at that time were playing American rhythm 'n' blues and
Tom the Great Sebastian with his first introduction
to the songs and artists that would later influence his own music: the
Clovers' "Middle of the Night", Fats Domino's "Mardi Gras in New
Griffin Brothers featuring Margie Day, and Shirley &
Campbell became more actively involved in the operational side of
running a sound system after he was introduced to Clement 'Coxsone'
Dodd, a musically inclined businessman who operated one of Kingston's
most popular sound systems. Campbell found himself fulfilling a
variety of roles for Coxsone: providing security, handling ticket
receipts, identifying and sourcing music as well as working in the
essential role of selector. The knowledge he gained about the
financial and logistical aspects of staging a sound system dance was
put to good use when Campbell made the decision to start his own sound
system called 'Voice of the People'. Campbell approached his
family and a radio shop owner called Mr Wong for financial backing;
both parties agreed. Campbell's 'Voice of the People' sound system was
soon operational and within a short time had established itself as a
rival to the sound systems of Coxsone and Reid. Campbell applied to
the Farm Work Program (guest worker scheme for the US agricultural
sector) with the intention of buying music for his sound system but on
the day of departure was refused entry into the scheme. Knowing that
he wouldn't be able to personally source records from the US, Campbell
decided to record his own music. He approached Arkland "Drumbago"
Parks, a professional drummer at the Baby Grand Club who had arranged
and recorded a special (exclusive recording) for the Count Boysie
sound system. Drumbago agreed to help and Campbell immediately began
rehearsing with the musicians at the Baby Grand Club, including the
guitarist Jah Jerry, who played on Campbell's first recording
In 1961, Campbell released his first single "Little Honey"/"Luke Lane
Shuffle" featuring Jah Jerry, Drumbago and Rico Rodriquez recording
under the name of Buster's Group. In that same year, he produced
"Oh Carolina" by the Folkes Brothers, which was released on his Wild
Bells label. The drumming on the record was provided by members
Count Ossie Group, nyabinghi drummers from the Rastafarian
community, Camp David, situated on the Wareika Hill above Kingston.
After becoming a hit in Jamaica, "Oh Carolina" was licensed to
Melodisc, a UK label owned by Emil Shalet. Melodisc released the track
on their subsidiary label Blue Beat; the label would go on to become
synonymous with 1960s ska releases for the UK market.
Campbell recorded prolifically throughout the 1960s; notable early ska
releases include: "Madness" (1963), "Wash Wash" (1963, with Ernest
Ranglin on bass), "One Step Beyond" (1964) and "Al Capone" (1964). The
documentary This is
Ska (1964), hosted by Tony Verity and filmed at
the Sombrero Club, includes Campbell performing his Jamaican hit "Wash
Wash". In 1964 Campbell met
World Heavyweight Champion
World Heavyweight Champion boxer Muhammad
Ali who invited him to attend a
Nation of Islam
Nation of Islam talk at Mosque 29 in
Miami. That year Campbell joined the
Nation of Islam
Nation of Islam and also
started to release material, including a version of Louis X's "White
Man's Heaven is a Black Man's Hell," on his own imprint label called
"Islam". In 1965 he appeared in Millie in Jamaica (a film short
about Millie Small's return to
Jamaica after the world-wide success of
"My Boy Lollipop") which was broadcast on Rediffusion's Friday evening
pop show Ready, Steady, Go! Campbell had a top twenty hit in the UK
with the single "Al Capone" (no. 18, February 1967). He toured the
UK in spring 1967 appearing at the
Marquee Club in May and later
toured America to promote the
RCA Victor LP release The Ten
Commandments (From Man To Woman). "Ten Commandments" reached #81 on
the Billboard Hot 100, becoming his only hit single in the United
States. By the late 1960s Campbell was once again at the forefront
of a musical change in Jamaica; the new music would be called
rocksteady. Campbell tracks like "Shaking Up Orange Street" (1967)
were arranged with the slower, more soulful rocksteady template as
Alton Ellis ("Rock Steady") and many others. The album Judge
Dread Rock Steady was released in 1967, and the title track "Judge
Dread" with its satirical theme and vocal style proved to be popular
to the point of parody. In 1968 the compilation album FABulous was
released, opening with the track "Earthquake" (which revisited the
theme of Orange Street) and including earlier hits. The album has
regularly been reissued in the UK.
1970s and beyond
His career slowed up in the 1970s as the predominant style moved away
from ska and rocksteady towards roots reggae, in part because as a
Muslim he found it difficult to tailor his style towards a Rastafari
audience. However he did make an appearance in the 1972 movie The
Harder They Come, which featured Campbell in a cameo role as a DJ.
He subsequently moved to
Miami to pursue business interests including
running a jukebox company. From 1973 Campbell effectively retired
from the music business, with only a handful of compilation albums
issued. Even with the new interest in his music following the
2-Tone-led ska revival in the UK in 1979 he remained out of the
limelight. Towards the end of the 1980s he resumed performing with
the Skatalites as his backing band, and resumed recording in 1992.
In 1994 a UK court ruled in favour of John Folkes and Greensleeves
after they brought a lawsuit against Campbell and Melodisc (CampbelI
by this time had acquired Melodisc) concerning authorship of "Oh
Carolina". Campbell had a top 30 hit in the UK with the track
"Whine and Grine" (no. 21, April 1998) after the song had been used in
an advert for Levi's.
In 2001 Campbell was awarded the
Order of Distinction by the Jamaican
Government for his contribution to music. He performed at the 2002
Ska festival in Toronto. Other appearances include:
Sierra Nevada World Music Festival
Sierra Nevada World Music Festival in 2003; the 2006 Boss Sounds
Reggae Festival in Newcastle upon Tyne, the 40th Montreux Jazz
Festival in Switzerland with the Delroy Williams Junction Band,
and the 2007 UK Rhythm Festival. Campbell resided in Miami,
The UK ska revival at the end of the 1970s that started with the
2-Tone label from Coventry introduced Campbell's music to a new
generation of listeners. In 1979 the band Madness released their first
single on 2-Tone, a tribute to Campbell called "The Prince". The
B-side was a cover of the Campbell song "Madness" from which they
took their name. Their second single, released on the Stiff label
("The Prince" would be the only single released by Madness on the
2-Tone label), was a cover of Campbell's "One Step Beyond", which
reached the UK Top 10.
On their self-titled debut album, the Specials covered "Too Hot" and
borrowed elements from Campbell's "Judge Dread" (in the song "Stupid
Marriage") and "Al Capone" (in the song "Gangsters"). The Specials
also included a cover of "Enjoy Yourself" on their second album More
The Beat covered "Rough Rider" and "Whine & Grine" on their album
I Just Can't Stop It. Campbell's song "Hard Man Fe Dead" was
covered by the U.S. ska band the Toasters on their 1996 album Hard
Band For Dead.
In 2002, electronic duo Mint Royale sampled
Prince Buster for their
single "Sexiest Man in Jamaica" on their album Dancehall Places.
In September 2002 the tune debuted at #20 on the UK singles chart.
Campbell died on the morning of 8 September 2016, in a hospital in
Miami, Florida, after suffering heart problems, according to his
wife. He had reportedly been in poor health for some time
after a series of strokes, including one in 2009 that left him unable
Selected album discography
I Feel the Spirit
I Feel the Spirit (1963), Blue Beat
Ska (1964), Blue Beat
Ska – Pain in My Belly (1964), Blue Beat
It's Burke's Law
It's Burke's Law (1965), Blue Beat
What A Hard Man Fe Dead (1967), Blue Beat
Prince Buster on Tour (1967), Blue Beat
Judge Dread Rock Steady (1967), Blue Beat/Prince Buster
Ten Commandments (1967), RCA Victor
Wreck A Pum Pum (1968), Jet Star 
She Was A Rough Rider (1968), Blue Beat
The Outlaw (1969), Bluebeat
Big Five (1971), Melodisc
Dance Cleopatra Dance (1972), Blue Elephant
The Message Dub Wise (1972), Melodisc/Fab
Sister Big Stuff (1976), Melodisc
The Original Golden Oldies Vol. 1 (1967), Prince Buster
Original Golden Oldies Vol. 2 (1967), Shack Recordings
FABulous Greatest Hits (1968), Fab
Tutti Frutti (1968), Fab
The Prophet (1994), Lagoon
Ska (2000), Prince Buster/Jet Star
Rock A Shacka Vol. 5 – Dance Cleopatra (2003), Universal
King of Blue Beat (2001) (reissue of "
Prince Buster Live On Tour"),
Prince of Peace (2003), Island –
Prince Buster with
UK hit singles
UK Singles Chart
UK Singles Chart peak
Weeks on chart
23 February 67
4 April 98
"Whine and Grine"
^ a b c d e "" Radio interview with
Prince Buster – Rodigan
(1982). Retrieved 1 February 2013.
^ a b c d e f "" Interview with
Prince Buster (1995) – Steve
Barrow (1999). Retrieved 3 February 2013
^ Lou Gooden (1 October 2003).
Reggae Heritage: Jamaica's Music
History, Culture & Politic. AuthorHouse. pp. 53–.
ISBN 978-1-4107-8062-1. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
^ David Katz, "" "Jerome 'Jah Jerry' Haynes", The Guardian, 22 August
2007. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
^ David Katz. People Funny Boy – The Genius of Lee 'Scratch' Perry.
Music Sales Group. pp. 31–. ISBN 978-0-85712-034-2.
Retrieved 13 February 2013.
^ Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st
ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 351.
^ Isaiah Thompson (19 July 2007). "Grady and the Champ".
Times. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
^ "Millie in Jamaica". 8 January 1965 – via IMDb.
^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th
ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 439.
^ "Marquee Official Site Archived 5 February 2012 at the Wayback
Marquee Club –
Prince Buster 9 May 1967. Retrieved 15
Prince Buster discography at Discogs".
^ a b c d "
Prince Buster obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 8
^ "The Harder They Come". 5 August 1977 – via IMDb.
^ a b c d "Prince Buster". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 9 September
^ Kevin O'Brien Chang; Wayne Chen, PH. (1998).
Reggae Routes. Temple
University Press. pp. 87–. ISBN 978-1-56639-629-5.
Retrieved 18 February 2013.
^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (19 November 1994). Billboard. Nielsen
Business Media, Inc. pp. 41–. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 18
^ "UK Official Chart Hits for Prince Buster". Retrieved 17 February
Prince Buster presented with Order of Distinction" Archived 13 May
2014 at the Wayback Machine.,
Jamaica Gleaner, Tuesday, 7 August 2001.
Retrieved 15 February 2013.
^ Now Toronto, Vol. 21 No 45: 11–18 July 2002. Retrieved 15 February
Sierra Nevada World Music Festival
Sierra Nevada World Music Festival 2003 Performers" Official SNWMF
site. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
^ "BBC – Tyne – Roots – Boss Sounds
Reggae Festival 2006".
Retrieved 18 February 2013.
^ "Montreux Jazz Live" Archived 28 January 2013 at the Wayback
Machine. Official site. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
^ "BBC – Three Counties – Music Feature –
Rhythm Festival 2007".
Retrieved 18 February 2013.
^ a b Jon Stratton. When Music Migrates: Crossing British and European
Racial Faultlines, 1945–2010. Routledge. ISBN 113476295X.
Retrieved 9 September 2016.
^ a b c "
Prince Buster Cover Songs". Coversproject.com. Retrieved 9
^ "UK Official Chart Hits for Madness". Retrieved 19 February 2013.
^ "Sexiest Man in
Jamaica by Mint Royale feat. Prince Buster".
WhoSampled. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
^ "Mint Royale carry on up the charts". The Visitor. Retrieved 29 June
^ a b "Prince Buster, Jamaican music legend who pioneered ska music,
dies at 78". Los Angeles Times. 2016-09-09. Retrieved
Prince Buster Is Dead". The Gleaner. September
8, 2016. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
Prince Buster has died".
Jamaica Observer. Archived from
the original on 9 September 2016. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Prince Buster". Allmusic.com.
Retrieved 8 September 2016.
^ a b c d e f g "PRINCE BUSTER – DISCOGRAPHY: (Ska/Rocksteady
Singer)". Subcultz. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
ISNI: 0000 0001 1647 9712
BNF: cb139659002 (data)