Operation Jump Up: Jamaica’s Campaign for a National Sound

The story of how ska came to America in 1964 and the events surrounding the comprehensive and strategic effort.

When Jamaica became independent on August 6, 1962, ska music was playing in yards, dancehalls, and in recording studios as this new nation celebrated. It was a spirited music, full of promise, optimism, and energy and it was the perfect sound to showcase to the world. Now that Jamaica was independent, what better way to demonstrate the culture, beauty, and art of Jamaica than through ska, both as a music and as a dance. The Jamaican government, tourist and business industry, and newly developing music industry made it their mission to bring Jamaican music to the world, through events they termed Operation Jump Up. This is the story of that effort and how, for a brief time, ska rivaled the Beatles and the Twist.

Operation Jump Up is the culmination of four years of research. The detailed historical narrative features dozens of interviews with musicians, businessmen, and government officials involved in the efforts including the Honorable Edward Seaga who served as Jamaica’s prime minister from 1980 to 1989 and was charged with leading his country’s efforts to promote music and culture in the early 1960s. Other exclusive interviews include Island Records Founder Chris Blackwell; Minister of Information, Youth, Sports & Culture, the Hon. Olivia Grange; vocalist Mille Small of “My Boy Lollipop” fame; Federal Records Engineer Graeme Goodall; band manager and advertising executive Ronnie Nasralla; and musicians Bob Andy, Keith Lyn, Carlos Malcolm, Roy Panton, Lynn Taitt, and others. The book also includes exclusive photographs and memorabilia that supplements personal narratives and archival material.