‘Be Original’ is Stranger Cole’s Advice


Stranger Cole. Love this man. He is then, an original, and now, an original. Looking dapper in this Star newspaper article on April 14, 1964, Cole talks about how he chose not to follow the style of the American rhythm and blues singers. Sure the style influenced him, as it influenced the style of the music he was singing, but what Cole is likely alluding to is that many other vocalists patterned their style so much after singers like Shirley & Lee and Sam Cooke and others. Here are the words of the article:

“More young Jamaican vocalists should emulate ‘Stranger’ (Ruff and Tuff) Cole by refusing to copy the singing style and vocal arrangements of American singers. ‘When I started out I thought that I could be more popular if I imitated one of the American blues singers. Now I am glad that I changed to a style of my own,’ he says. ‘I think that success comes by being original.’ The 19-year-old Kingstonian–real name Wilburn Cole–has attained a position of prominence since he made his debut three years ago. Unlike most other local singers, ‘Stranger’ was not influenced by friends into starting his career. ‘I just felt that I could sing well enough to please the people and then I started out,’ he says. Cole has made over 50 recordings, the two most popular of which are: ‘Ruff and Tuff’ and ‘When I call your Name.’ Each has sold over 10,000 copies. His recordings, ‘Hey, Hey Baby’ and “Hush, Baby,’ are currently on the local hit parade. He was not alone in his second hit. Patsy, of Derrick and Patsy fame, severed her connections with Derrick Morgan and teamed up with Stranger for ‘When I Call Your Name.’ Cole also sings with Ken Boothe, writing the words for his songs. He is assisted with musical compositions by bandleader Babba [sic] Brooks and pianist Gladstone Alexander. Cole, who hopes to perform in America, has appeared on several stage shows around the island with impresario ‘Sir’ Anthony Cobb. He will appear on the Cat’s ‘Trinidadian Spectacular’ stage show at the Odeon on April 19.”

Stranger certainly did go on to perform in America, and all over the world! As he loves to say, “More Life!”


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