Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

May 26, 2006

Desmond Dekker is Gone

Man - I know this has nothing to do with dead web sites. But Desmond Dekker passed today, and it really bummed me out. Dekker's incredible 1969 song "The Isrealites" splashed across the world and turned the world on to Jamaican music years before Bob Marley's heavier, smokier, more laid-back style established Jamaica as a center of radical world music. Dekker never got the credit he deserved and his life was hard: success seemed forever out of his reach. But his fire was evident through to the end and he will be remembered as an artist who never compromised his sharp vision to the blind requisites of the marketplace.

I found a great video of Desmond singing (or more likely, lip-synching) "Isrealites" on that seems to have been recorded for Dutch television. I don't know what you younger folk will make of this performance, but take it from me: those of us who were young when "Isrealites" swept every radio in the Free World heard an otherwordly ring in his sound that we had never heard before and would always miss as the sugar-sweetened, slow-tempo'd golem-form called "Reggae" lumbered forward in Dekker's sparkling wake to take center stage.

Desmond Dekker never saw enough of this spotlight, but he was the real deal. His body is gone but in his time he and the Aces made such a pure and joyful noise unto Jah that they will never be forgotten; their spirit and the sharp, sparkling edges of this music will ever gleam.

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