For over 50 years Black Uhuru has remained one of the most popular recognized prolific reggae band from Jamaica. The living legends have earned several achievements in the music industry including winning the first ever Grammy Award for reggae music. They’re long success along with having the highest reggae record sales after Bob Marley & songs sampled by several other artists over the years has allowed them to become Ambassadors of reggae.
The roots of Black Uhuru formed in Kingston’s “Waterhouse” District in the late 60’s. It is the home of founder & leader Derrick “Duckie” Simpson along with all the rest of the singers from the group. The original Uhuru’s Swahili for “freedom” were Duckie, Don Carlos & Garth Dennis. The first song was a Curtis Mayfield cover of “Folk Song”. They made only a couple more songs before Don left to pursue a solo career & Garth joined Wailing Souls. The two were replaced by Michael Rose & Errol Nelson both from Waterhouse. They recorded the debut album “Love Crises” in 1977 for Prince Jammy later re-released as “Black Sounds of Freedom”. Errol later left the group to join the Jays & was replaced by female singer Puma Jones.
This new line-up is when the band began to collaborate with Sly & Robbie & developed the “classic Uhuru” sound of the 80’s. A unique style full of heavy drum & bass, sharp keys, loud guitar riffs & long instrumentals filled with whirly background effects & the signature “who oh-oh oh’s” echo. It was during this period they signed with Island Records. They began touring internationally & started receiving worldwide attention. They recorded some of their most popular albums like “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” “Sensimelia” & “Chill Out”. The album “Red” was voted #23 for Rolling Stone Magazine list of 100 greatest albums of the 80’s. And history was made when they won reggae’s first grammy award in 1984 for the album “Anthem”. Shortly after the grammy Michael left the group to go solo.
Another Waterhouse resident named Junior Reid became the new lead singer. They released the albums “Brutal” nominated for grammy & “Positive” with Ras Records. These albums included popular hits like “Dreadlocks on the Mountain” “Fit You Haffi Fit” & one of the groups first music videos “Great Train Robbery”. Sadly due to ill health Puma passed away in 1990. Around this time Jr. Reid was having visa issues unable to tour.
During the mid 90’s the original members reunited. They released four albums “Now”, “Iron”, Storm”, “Mystical Truth” & “Strongg” all nominated for grammy. They made an award-winning music video for “Tip of the Iceberg” that featured rap star Ice-T & another video for “One Love” featuring Louie Rankin. They performed live on television for VH1 a cover version of Jimmy Hendrix “Hey Joe”. In 1994 they won the Diamonds Awards for Excellence. Unfortunately, the group began to dispute over band legal rights & went to court in the late 90’s. Duckie won the rights to the name.
As the new millennium approached Duckie found Andrew Bee’s once again from Waterhouse. Bee’s first tour with the band was in 1996 in Brazil. They released two albums “Unification” in 1998 & “Dynasty” in 2001. In 2002 they reunited with Sly & Robbie for an international world tour. They released a live album/dvd “Dubbin it Live”. The group resurfaced in 2010 & has been touring extensively throughout Europe, South America & the United States. In 2012 they performed in a Broadway musical in Los Angeles called “Loving the Silent Tears”. In 2013 Duckie was awarded a lifetime achievement award from the IRWMA. In 2017 they released a new single & music video “Jah Guide” a Peter Tosh tribute that featured Bugle. In 2018 the album “As The World Turns” was released in September. The album has been nominated for best Reggae Album for the 61st annual Grammy Awards!!!