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Tapper Zukie

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One of Jamaica’s most talented artists, Tapper Zukie has had an equal impact on both sides of the recording deck, as both a hitmaking toaster and as a producer who has worked with the cream of Jamaica’s vocalists. In addition, his early ties to the punk community in both London and New York was instrumental in the crossover of roots reggae into the mainstream. Born David Sinclair, Tapper (also spelled Tappa) was a diminutive of a nickname his grandmother gave him, while Zukie was derived from the gang he ran with as a child, the Zukies. In his teens, he began working for the sound systems, first with I-Oses Discotech, then for the Maccabees. It was through the latter that he came to the attention of producer Bunny Lee; unfortunately, his off-hours delinquency ensured that he was also coming to the attention of the police.

Finally, Zukie’s mother wisely decided it was time for the youth to permanently leave the Kingston streets behind, and in 1973 packed him off to relatives in England. Lee, too, wanted him out of trouble, but preferred to have him put in the studio. Not content to see the teen’s talent wasted, the producer pulled some strings, and the day after arriving in London Zukie was onstage, opening for U-Roy. His one-song toast so impressed producer and Ethnic Records’ label head Larry Lawrence that Zukie was immediately swept into the studio to record his debut single, “Jump & Twist.”

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