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SKA: An Oral History

By Heather Augustyn

With foreword by Cedella Marley, daughter of Bob Marley

Published by McFarland

Ska: An Oral History is the story of ska music, told through the words and narratives of those who invented it. In Jamaica, and later in England, this music defined the culture and social conditions of the people. Through the words of their songs, the uplifting rhythm of their vivacious tunes, and the character and skill of each musician, ska music was the foundation for musical forms and the musicians that evolved. Hearing first-hand the stories of these tumultuous times, these creative times, the story of ska music is finally told by those who were there.  

Augustyn spent over a decade interviewing ska artists and musicians and researching the music and culture of Jamaica and England. Included in her book are never-before heard words from such greats as The Skatalites’ Doreen Schaeffer, Roland Alphonso, Lloyd Brevett, Lloyd Knibb, and Lester Sterling; Derrick Morgan and Patsy (Millicent Todd); Lyn Taitt; Laurel Aitken; Toots Hibbert; Millie Small; Alex Hughes (Judge Dread); The Specials’ Roddy Byers (Roddy Radiation); The Beat’s Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger; The Selecter’s Pauline Black; Lee “Kix” Thompson of Madness; and Buster Bloodvessel of Bad Manners.

The final chapter in the book closely examines how ska traveled from England to America and spread around the world. Words from American ska band members tell the story, with input from Fishbone’s Dr. Madd Vibe (Angelo Moore); The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ Dicky Barrett; Issac Green; Bucket of The Toasters and now defunct Moon Records and new label Megalith; Rocksteady Freddie of The Toasters and New York Ska Jazz Ensemble; Joey Altruda and Willie McNeil formerly of Jump with Joey; Jim Arhelger of Bim Skala Bim; Jayson Nugent of The Slackers; Buford O'Sullivan formerly of The Scofflaws; Alex Desert formerly of Hepcat and appearing in such film and television as  Swingers, High Fidelity, Boy Meets World, and Becker; Tony Kanal of No Doubt; as well as many others.


Ska: An Oral History is the definitive book on ska music, as told by the artists themselves.