Born in Cuba in 1927, he emigrated to his fatherís homeland of Jamaica when he was 11 and by his teens was earning a living singing calypsos for the tourist boats in Kingston harbour. At 15 he entered the Vere Johns Opportunity Hour at the Ambassador Theatre in Kingston, a talent show that helped to launch the careers of Desmond Dekker and the Wailers. Aitken won several weeks running and he became a regular in Kingstonís nightclubs. He had his first hit in 1958 with the double A-sided single Little Sheila and Boogie In My Bones. In Jamaica it topped the charts for three months. Ska, with its upstroke guitar played on the offbeat, became a distinct Jamaican form. Aitken to move to London in 1960. From his new British base he recorded hundreds of ska tracks, with the hit Boogie Rock the first release on the Blue Beat label. Britain remained his home as he recorded ska, rocksteady and eventually reggae. His music was embraced by white skinheads in the 1960s. His output was mostly wry, good-humoured dance music, sometimes with risqué lyrics such as his notorious Pussy Price. By the mid-1970s he had moved to Leicester and settled into semi-retirement, but was soon to return to prominence as an icon of the 2Tone ska revival of the early 1980s led by young British bands such as the Specials, Madness and the Selecter. Aitken, now in his 50s, found himself hailed as the elder statesman of ska. He performed with a variety of British groups including the Beat, Secret Affair and Potato 5. He at last had his own chart hit, Rudi Got Married, and in 1986 appeared in the film Absolute Beginners with David Bowie. In his 70s he still performed with third-generation ska acts such as the Toasters, the Busters and the New York Ska Jazz Ensemble, while innumerable ska compilations have been pressed since the 1980s ó none of them complete withouta contribution from Aitken. He is survived by his wife, Sandra, and his daughter. Laurel Aitken, musician, was born on April 22, 1927. He died on July 17, 2005, aged 78 Sincere condolences are sent by Small Axe to his family and friends.
Laurel Aitken - The Pioneer Of Jamaican Music - Reggae Retro - CD.
The pre-ska era is one of great interest to all lovers of the musical connections that make up reggae today. What makes Laurel more than interesting is what he was adding to these Jamaican rhythms. Lyrics have always given the music its extra impact. On this 25 track CD that covers Mento, Calypso, R&B and Ska. You get the lot. You also get it all in a digipak format, with a pull out booklet.
Selection & Connection
Laurel Aitken - Godfather Of Ska -Gaz's [L.Aitken] - _ - _
Laurel Aitken & Skatalites - The Long Hot Summer -Unicorn [L.Aitken] - _ - _