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Desmond Dekker

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Kingston, Jamaica (1963 – 2006)

Desmond Dekker (born in Kingston, Jamaica on 16 July 1941 - deceased 25 May 2006), was a Jamaican ska and reggae singer and songwriter. Together with his backing group, The Aces (consisting of Wilson James and Easton Barrington Howard), he had the first international Jamaican hit, Israelites. Other hits include 007 (Shanty Town) (1967) and It Mek (1968). Before the ascent of Bob Marley, Dekker was the best-known Jamaican musician outside of his country, and one of the most popular within it.

He was born Desmond Adolphus Dacres in St. Andrew, Jamaica and grew up in Kingston, where he attended the Alpha Boys’ School. After his mother took ill and died, his father moved him to St. Mary’s, and then to St. Thomas, where he apprenticed as a tailor before returning to Kingston and taking a job as a welder, singing around his workplace while his co-workers encouraged him. In 1961 he auditioned for Coxsone Dodd (Studio One) and Duke Reid (Treasure Isle). Neither were impressed by his talents, and the young man moved on to Leslie Kong’s Beverley record label, where he auditioned before Derrick Morgan, then the label’s biggest star.

With Morgan’s support, Dekker was signed but did not record until 1963 because Leslie Kong wanted to wait for the perfect song, which “Honour Your Father and Mother” was felt to be.

“Honour Your Father and Mother” was a hit and was followed by “Sinners Come Home” and “Labour for Learning,” as well as a name change (from Desmond Dacres to Desmond Dekker).

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