Pete Stroud, better known as Dr Pablo, hailed from Bourne End near High Wycombe west of London. He first played the melodica in the school orchestra after being given the instrument as a present by his German aunt, whose chosen instrument was the not-unassociated piano accordion. Pete recalls playing along with the more traditional recorders and chimes etc., taking the part of third violin in a line-up of three melodicas! It was in the early 1970s that Pete was introduced to the sound of reggae by his brother who lived in the Birmingham area.
Also, around 1973/1974, Pete first met another denizen of the High Wycombe area, one Adrian Maxwell Sherwood who at that time was running records out the back of a van or, to put it more politely, employed in the record distribution business. Adrian would travel up and down the country selling mainly 7" pres to record shops and then return home on the Friday when Pete, who was working as a postman at the time, would pick up a few choice tunes - hopefully without too much cash changing hands.
A growing friendship gave Adrian and Pete the confidence to start up a record label together with a mutual friend Joe - J&A Records. This did not last too long as Joe ran off with the cash! Pete and Adrian then went on to become the founding members of the Hitrun label, specifically designed to pick up Jamaican pre-releases for domestic issue in the UK on the increasingly popular 12" disco format, relying on the good offices of Prince Far I to pave the way to the quality material.
It was when the Prince came to England to tour that Pete returned to the melodica, inspired by the recordings his soon-to-become namesake Augustus Pablo. Becoming part of the Creation Rebel set-up, who were set to act as the DJ's backing band, Pete played the horn parts on the melodica. The albums "Dub from Creation" by Creation Rebel (APLP 9001) and the legendary "Crytuff Dub Encounter Chapter 1" by Prince Far I & The Arabs (APLP 9002) quickly followed.
Pablo was also part of many shows by the original Creation Rebel line-up and onwards, right through to the late 1980s, working alongside Style Scott (prior to the formation of the Roots Radics and later Dub Syndicate), Crucial Tony, Lizard Logan, Fatfingers, Mr. Ranking Magoo and mixed live by Adrian Sherwood. This team formed the core of the On-U Sound rhythm section for the years to come, but at the time laid claim to the albums "Rebel Vibrations" (APLP 9004), "Starship Africa" (ON-U LP8), "Encounters Of The Third World" (APLP 9008) and a 12" called "Beware" (HIT DD 8), all under the name of Creation Rebel, as well as other outings either uncredited or bearing the Dub Syndicate banner.
The team were also involved in many other excellent live shows, touring with the Slits, Don Cherry and the Clash amongst others. Ari Up of the Slits of course later joined the On-U Sound fold. Pete now looks back on the many live shows as a real highlight and speaks with a rare animation about the experience.
He made numerous but sporadic appearances on On-U sessions after his only credited LP, "North Of The River Thames" (ON-U LP30) in 1982 with Dub Syndicate, culminating in a bass playing credit on their "Strike The Balance" album (ON-U LP47). Dr Pablo's conceptualised follow up, "Bridge On The River Wye", sadly never materialised.
These days Pete operates in a different area of expertise - plumbing. Probably much more lucrative than playing in a band, making records or running a label but certainly not providing as many highs.
(Re-edited by the editor from Steve Barker's sleeve notes to a CD reissue of Dr Pablo and Dub Syndicate's "North Of The River Thames" album)