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Freddie McKay

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  • Born: St. Catherine, Jamaica
  • Years Active: 1960s, 1970s, 1980s

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Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Rocksteady singer Freddie McKay had a few hits in the '60s (one of which was miscredited to someone else!), recorded with the Soul Defenders, among other studio groups, and worked with Jamaica's top reggae producers Duke Reid, Coxsone Dodd, and Prince Buster.

Purportedly born in the late '40s in St. Catherine, Freddie McKay went on to record for the Studio One and Treasure Isle labels, working with studio bands the Revolutionaires, the G.G. Allstars, and the Soul Defenders, with whom McKay cut "Picture on the Wall" (his biggest hit), "High School Dance," and other enjoyable, but non-charting, songs including "Old and Gray." According to the compilation Wake Up Jamaica, another one of McKay's hits, "Love Is a Treasure," was initially released in the late '60s as a Treasure Isle Boys single. The song's reissue in the early '70s got the performer wrong again, this time listing Tommy McCook's All Stars. Eventually, the record was set straight and a few of Freddie McKay's singles remained perennial favorites on ska and rocksteady compilations decades later.

eMusic Features

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Reggae’s Ba-Ba Boom Time

By Lenny Kaye, Contributor

Despite the fire and brimstone that characterized reggae's revolutionary emergence in the 1970s, I have always had an abiding affection for the evolutionary period that immediately preceded that breakthrough, when the music seemed caught between two worlds. The style is usually referred to as rocksteady - post-Ska, but still experimenting with and expanding the possibilities of that one-drop, loping afterbeat; and though Rastafarian ideology was already beginning to swiftly gospelize the music (anthemed most notably… more »