Real Dance Crasher

From the Daily Gleaner, September 20, 1961.

This article from the Daily Gleaner, Septemner 20, 1961, tells of a real dance crasher. It was uncovered by my friend and colleague Roberto Moore, an extraordinary historian of Jamaican music. We’ve heard the stories of the violence and pilfering at the hands of opposing thugs, rude boys associated with competitive sound system operators. Lloyd Bradley in his brilliant book, This is Reggae Music: The Story of Jamaica’s Music, writes about these dance crashers and the ones assembled by Duke Reid. “They were there, he maintained, for his protection as he claimed he’s made so many enemies as a policeman that his life was permanently under threat, but really it was anybody else’s set who needed protection from his crew. Their main function was one of aggression, storming rivals’ lawns punching, stabbing and kicking indiscriminately, frightening off the crowd and aiming to get to the rig and cut wires, smash amplifiers, hack at speaker boxes and upend turntables. Maybe even snatch the box of records.”

Here is what appears to be evidence of one of those examples of thievery, a real dance crasher who stole three of Coxsone Dodd’s exclusive tunes where they were played at a competitor’s dance. The article reads: “A young man who heard a sound system playing records he had reason to believe were the property of his employer, told his employer, who brought in the police. In consequence, Herman Moore, 48 of 66B Love Lane, was arrested by Cons. A.D. Redley of the Fletcher’s Land Police and charged with the theft of three records valued at 15 pounds, the property of Clement Bodd, [sic. Dodd], owner of the Coxson Sound System of 22, Beeston Street, Kingston. The police said the Bodd [sic. Dodd] missed the records on September 3. Chancellor Eccles of 155 Church Street, heard the records being played the following day and informed his employer, knowing that the records were the only ones in use in the island. They had not yet been released for sale to the public.”

Could this Chancellor Eccles be Clancy Eccles? It is likely since Clancy worked with Coxsone Dodd during these years. In David Katz’s outstanding book Solid Foundation, Eccles states, “In early 1960, Coxsone had a talent hunt. It was sixty of us and I was a runner-up by I was the first one that Coxsone recorded out of that crop. I did ‘Freedom’ and ‘I Live And I Love.’ Around eight months later I did ‘River Jordan,’ ‘More Proof’ and quite a lot of other tracks.” Katz says that Eccles recorded with Coxsone until late 1961 and that he didn’t record anything for three years after that because he was under contract with Coxsone and, unlike all the other artists, didn’t want to break the contract and incite trouble.

It is fascinating to imagine the scene, what records were stolen, who may have spun the spoils. What are your thoughts?

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