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Act Junior Delgado / Jux

Junior Delgado
Junior Delgado / Jux

The long-time Jamaican singer (aka Oscar Hibbert, aka Jux) interviewed by Don Anderson:

Junior Delgado (born Oscar Hibbert - 'delgado' means skinny in Spanish) has come a long way since being born on 25th August 1958 in West Kingston, Jamaica. To think that there was only 500 copies of his "Dance A Dub", when it was released in 1978. If it hadn't been reissued in 1997 by Big Cat, I would never heard it.

Old as it was, it was new to me, so it was a total shock to hear Junior's 1998 album "Fearless", a year after the reissue. His voice has always been so emotional, so intense - but now he sounds like a giant. It features Junior, a classic roots reggae singer, meeting up with an impeccable assortment of modern talents (who Junior affectionately refers to as "kids"), all with appropriate reggae affinities in that particularly English way. "Fearless" showcases new versions of classic Junior tunes, ranging from tracks originally recorded by Lee Perry, Joe Gibbs and the Augustus Pablo.

I asked Delgado about the producers he had worked with in the past:

"Well, the first producer I worked with was Upsetter, Lee Perry, Scratch. That was like magical, because that was when I was very, very young, you know. I was 17. Scratch, he was a man I could remember. Bob Marley was there, Peter Tosh - but they were like big men - and Family Man (Aston Barrett), and Carlie (Carlton Barrett), and Reggie were there. And Junior Byles and Max Romeo and a lot of people. That's where I saw Chris Blackwell the first time."

All in the same day?

"No, you go to the studio over a year straight, you know. That's where I met Johnny Rotten. He came to the Upsetter. So I met lots of people, when I was young. Upsetter, you know. People come in from far to visit him. They didn't come to visit me. They came to visit him. And when they came, I saw them. I couldn't even hold a conversation with them. I only could, like, look."

So did lots of people just hang around Scratch's studio?

"Well, if you was an idler, you couldn't hang around Scratch's studio. You had to be making music, or be one of his singers, or one of his musicians, to hang around, but it was very great. And then I move on, and the second big guy I record for was Rupie Edwards. We couldn't put out the song under our name (Time Unlimited), cause we were singing for Scratch, so he puts it out under the Heavenly Brothers. And then we move on, and then the group becomes broken up. The group took five, six years. And then I go solo, and that's when Dennis Brown hooked up with me, and he wanted me to go solo."

Did you sing with Dennis Brown?

"Yeah, I and Dennis Brown do a lot of producing and making songs from the early seventies." Yeah, he does one of my favourite songs, "Things In Life." "Yeah, 'Things In Life.' I love that song. Wicked, wicked, wicked. Yeah. But me and Dennis Brown were like kids. I'm one year older than him."

What year is this, that you're talking about, around 1976-1977?

"No, it's earlier, 74, 75. The early songs like "Tricksters" and "Storm Is Coming," a lot of early songs. A lot of early hits for me was like me and him. And then I sing for Joe Gibbs, all types of producers. But I don't like to sing for a lot of people. I don't like to be singing all over the place."

The 'Reasons' album
The "Reasons" album

Add Adrian Sherwood to the list of great dub producers Delgado has worked with. Recorded in Port Antonio, Jamaica, at John Baker Studio, Junior's 1999 album, "Reasons" (ON-U LP82), features classic players like Chinna Smith, Robbie Lynn and Chantells harmonies. Says Junior on working with Adrian:

"He been around long, he deserves it, too, you know. It's very nice working with him. He's a very nice person, and I respect him, you know, and honour him. He's good. I'm not just saying it, because I worked with him. He's naturally good, you know. He knows his work, Adrian, you know?"

Like "Fearless" and like another Sherwood production of the same era of a classic reggae singer, Bim Sherman's "Miracle" (ON-U LP67), "Reasons" is a classic melting pot of sound. In the same excellent way that Sly & Robbie (two Junior classics, "Fort Augustus" and "Merry Go Round", came out on the famous rhythm section's late 70s record label, Taxi) gracefully adapt Latin elements into their sound on a recent Howie B. collaboration, "Reasons" takes place in a diaspora, in which American blues and reggae all sound like offshoots from the same roots.

In 2005, aged 46, and while still working on new material with Sherwood, his life was sadly cut short - he died on 11th April of natural causes in his sleep, while at home in London.

(Edited, with additions from the Editor himself, from an article (used with permission and thanks) that appeared in the online version of 'Space Age Bachelor' magazine)

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Junior Delgado / Jux
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