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The Heptones

Page history last edited by PBworks 11 years, 11 months ago

The history of The Heptones actually starts with the name "The Hep Ones" in 1965 when Leroy Sibbles, Earl Morgan, and Barry Llewellyn teamed up to create one of the Rocksteady Era's most enduring groups. An example of the Jamaican three part harmony vocal group, The Heptones developed a large catalog and had many hits for various producers in the years that followed.


The bands first record is an interesting Ska composition based on "The William Tell Overture" called "Gunmen Coming To Town". It was released on Caltone records. This is one of their limited Ska releases, which to some degree is fortunate because their sublime harmonizing lent itself so well to Rocksteady. The part of their careers that lead them to become Rocksteady legends started while working under Clement Coxsone Dodd at Studio One, which produced many hits during the era.

The real frontman for the group was Leroy Sibbles, who as of this writing is still actively making music. Not only is he a fantastic singer, but under Dodd's training and guidance, also was an equally talented writer, arranger, and session Bass player for Studio One. Sibbles also had a sense of humor, as evident in the bands first hit "Fattie Fattie", which is about his need for a fat girl to love him. It is my understanding that this record was banned in Jamaica (probably for it's overt sexual overtones). The group remained at Studio One until 1971, when Sibbles began to feel stifled under the control of Dodd. While he churned out songs in the same old style, more Rastafari had crept into his lyrics and he wanted to move in new creative directions, so the group left the label.


The next move was a tour of Jamaica's brightest producers, and the band recorded with Joe Gibbs, Harry J, and Rupie Edwards to name a few. In 1975 (after a brief move to Canada) they signed with Island and teamed with [Lee "Scratch" Perry} for "Night Food". At the time, Perry was a producer who could surely reinvent The Heptones without loosing what the band had already established, and this first collaboration does just that by basically revamping the groups Studio One material. In 1977, "Party Time" (title track also Studio One material) was released, and was the groups biggest seller. It includes the now famous cover of Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released". The groups next record "Better Days" did not do as well and soon after Leroy Sibbles began to pursue a solo career.


The remaining Heptones continued to work through the eighties with Naggo Morris replacing Sibbles, but they never enjoyed the same success they had with Sibbles as the front man. In 1995 the original line up reunited and released the album "Pressure!".


Their is something for all Reggae fans in The Heptones catalog. Here are some examles of songs that show their diversity in writing:

Jamaican R&B- We've Got Love (with the Supersonics)

Ska - Gunmen Coming to Town, I am Lonely, Schoolgirls

Rocksteady - Fattie Fattie, Mama, Why did you leave

Roots - Peace and Harmony, Cool Rasta, Dreadlock, Mama Say

Covers- Mama, Daddy's Home, Only Sixteen, Save The Last Dance For Me

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