Black Uhuru

Black Uhuru

Derrick “Duckie” Simpson the “Gong Gong Gullie” is the founder and leader for reggae’s BLACK UHURU. Although going through numerous lead singers and musicians they have remained to be one of the most recognized and prolific reggae band for over 50 years.

The roots of BLACK UHURU were formed in Kingston Jamaica’s Waterhouse district also known as “Firehouse” in the early 60′s. Though considered to be one of Jamaica’s toughest neighborhoods it’s home to several other reggae singers and musicians. It was where Duckie Simpson grew up and learned to sing from boyhood friends Winston “Pipe” Matthews and Lloyd “Bread” McDonald of Wailing Souls and Bob Marley. He recorded four tracks with Wailing Souls before forming his own group.

The original Uhuru’s (Swahili for freedom) were Derrick “Duckie” Simpson, Euvin “Don Carlos” Spencer and Rudolph “Garth” Dennis. They only recorded a few singles “Folk Songs” “Time Is On Our Side” and “Slow Coach” before separating. Don went solo and Garth joined Wailing Souls.

Duckie reformed the group adding Michael Rose & Errol “Tarzan” Nelson, both from Waterhouse. They recorded their debut album “Love Crises” in 1977 at Prince Jammy’s famous studio in Waterhouse on St. Lucia Road. It was later re-released as “Black Sounds Of Freedom”. Errol later left to join The Jayes. He was soon replaced by American female singer & dancer Sandra “Puma” Jones. They teamed up with drummer Sly Dunbar and bass player Robbie Shakespeare. Together they developed a musical style full of deep bass thumps, loud drum slaps, sharp keyboards, long instrumentals with guitar riffs, whirly back round noises, echos and the signature”woh oh oh’s” creating they’re “classic” sound. Producing hits like “I Love King Sellassie, “‘Shine Eye Gals”, “General Penitentary” and “What is Life”.

BLACK UHURU released the albums Red, Chill Out, Sensemila and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and began to tour the world bringing them to international audiences. It was during this period they started to gain rapid popularity. They opened live shows for the Rolling Stones and the Police. They began to work with other well accomplished producers and musicians. Keith Richards played guitar for the “Shine Eye Gal” track. Dennis Brown “The Crown Prince of Reggae” produced the tracks “Rent Man” and Wood For My Fire”. The track” Spongi Reggae” appeared on an episode of The Bill Cosby Show and “Party in Session” in the movie 1980′s North Shore. BLACK UHURU made reggae history when they won the first ever Grammy Award for reggae music in 1984 for the album Anthem Shortly after the grammy Michael Rose went solo.

Another Waterhouse resident named Delroy “Junior” Reid became the new lead singer. They released two albums Brutal and Positive. The Brutal album was nominated for a grammy. They filmed three music videos for the tracks “Fire City” “Brutal”, and “Great Train Robbery”, that track also played on a popular video game Grand Theft Auto. Sadly in 1990, due to ill health, Sanda “Puma” Jones passed away of cancer. Junior Reid shortly went solo.

Then the original three re-united. They released four albums Now, Iron Storm, Mystical Truth and Strong. Each album was nominated for grammy. They made an award winning music video for the track “Tip Of The Iceberg” featuring rap star Ice-T in 1992. Eventually splitting up again. Carlos & Dennis left again & Duckie stayed again. This time there was a lawsuit brought amongst the group over the band’s legal rights in Los Angeles county court. Derrick Simpson won.

As the new melenium approached there came a new lead singer yet again from Waterhouse named Andrew “Bee’s” Beckford. They released two albums. Unification was produced by King Jammy & Dynasty was produced by Fitzroy Francis & Duckie. They went on a worldwide tour featuring Sly and Robbie and had the famous producer Scientist as its road engineer. Andrew Bee’s then went solo.

In 2007 Duckie & Michael Rose reunited after twenty years. They performed in Jamaica and did one international tour and released the single “Dollars”. In 2011 Duckie reunited with Andrew Bee’s after ten years. He added female backing vocalist Kaye Star, who was replaced
in August 2014 by Jojo Mac.

BLACK UHURU recently performed in a Broadway Musical. The red carpeted event “Loving the Silent Tears: A New Msuical” premiered October 27th 2012 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles Ca. They were invited to represent reggae music and performed a new track “Make A Deal”. And in Las Vegas Nevada BLACK UHURU was recently honored for its contribution to the entertainment industry. August 31st if now officially “Black Uhuru Day” in the city of Las Vegas.

BLACK UHURU’s long success has allowed them to become ambassadors of reggae while earning several achievements in the music industry. With 14 full length albums, 7 instrumental dub albums, and 4 live albums they have the highest record sales in reggae music behind Bob Marley. The album Red was voted #23 for Rolling Stone’s list of “100 Greatest Albums of the 1980′s. Aside from winning the first reggae grammy they have been nominated 5 more times. They are the only reggae group to have won the Diamond Awards of Excellence in 1994.

Despite all of BLACK UHURU’s change of different singers and musicians the one thing that has always remained is Derrick “Duckie” Simpson. Much respect to a legendary figure for Reggae Music. The group is presently working on a new album featuring Duckie on lead, soon to be released later in 2015.

Mike Pinto has crafted an exceptional style of songwriting, with a truly unique take on Roots, Vintage Rock, Reggae, Ska and Classic Surf, but it's his distinct voice and seamless storytelling that has brought him success both in the States and overseas. With the release of his debut album (Little District, 2005), Pinto began his attack on the Philadelphia music scene as a solo artist. By 2006, underground success and a rabid growing fanbase allowed him to expand westward with two nationwide solo acoustic tours. After the second tour, Pinto decided to relocate to San Diego where he immersed himself in the thriving Southern California music scene and quickly gained a name.

Pinto's music quickly traveled out of the continental States and can be found on Japanese compilations, on Hawaii's top radio stations by huge supporter and top radio personality Shaggy Jenkins as well as topping charts in Guam. As in Pinto fashion, the hype was followed up with tours where he sold out shows in Guam, Big Island, Maui and Oahu, creating even more buzz in the wakes.

In late 2007 Pinto teamed up with professional skateboarder and legendary Drummer/Producer Chuck Treece (Pearl Jam, G Love, Bad Brains, McRad) and released his most complete work to date. With Treece lending his knack for producing and playing a number of the instruments on the album, Pinto's self-titled album has sold tens of thousands of copies worldwide. The album gained so much attention that Pinto was urged to follow it up with an entirely acoustic version of which was released in 2008.

With a focus on creating community and delivering a live show reminiscent of Vintage Rock and Roll, there is no denying the impact Mike Pinto will have in 2010.

- Released acoustic album "Everything I Got" April 2009
- Three national tours (two with a band) in a 6-month period (July '09 –Nov. '09)
- Has played live shows with horns/members of Slightly Stoopid and Sublime

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