Artist / Writer


Few artistes have contributed more to Jamaican music than Ansel Collins. Not necessarily as a featured artiste, though he can lay claim to two UK top 10 records, but more as one of the musicians who have helped form the music over the last 40 years. He must be on many hundreds (probably even thousands!) of reggae tunes. And, whenever the Reggae Hall of Fame is built, he will have the right to be among the first handful admitted. Born in Jamaica in 1949, he began in the 60s as a singer but then switched, first to drums and then more fruitfully to keyboards. In 1971, with vocalist Dave Barker, he recorded "Double Barrel" for the Winston Riley Techniques label. The tune went to No 1 in the UK and young Ansel found himself, fresh from Jamaica, in the history books and on "Top of the Pops". The first ever all-male duo to top the UK Pop charts saw the follow-up "Monkey Spanner" miss the top spot but still make the top 10. Then in 1973, still with Riley, he recorded "Stalag 17", an instrumental track which no-one outside reggae knows and yet which everyone has heard, such is its popularity as a riddim or a sample – ask the likes of Nate Dogg, R.Kelly, Sade and every Reggae artist under the sun!!!! Then, putting his stardom behind him, Collins spent the rest of the 70s busily working as a studio musician with every reputable aggregate that Jamaica could put together. This included being a member of the Bunny Lee house band The Aggrovators, and (with a young Sly and Robbie), the keyboardist of the Channel One house band, The Revolutionaries. When Sly and Robbie set up their own Taxi label, he became part of their house band, the Taxi Gang too! He also worked with many of the most legendary producers of the 70s such as King Tubby and Lee Perry (for whom he wrote and recorded "Night Doctor"). Perhaps not satisfied with keyboards (and the occasional melodica), he would also feature as a percussionist for Marcia Griffiths and as backing vocalist for Jimmy Cliff! Also turning his hand to production, he produced an album "Save Our Planet Earth" and the single, "Jimmy Jimmy", for Mr Cliff which became a bit of a signature tune for him. There was no let-up in the 80s and 90s as he did session after session for most of the top names in Reggae music; indeed, when Beenie Man scored his first international solo hit, "Who Am I (Zim Zimma)", Ansell was there for the follow-up as a featured member of the Taxi Gang on "Foundation". Now something of a Godfather figure in his native Portmore, Ansel can still be found producing up-and-coming artists like Shaggy soundalike Ragga G and Natty King. He can also still be seen touring with various artists including Turbulence, The Mighty Diamonds and his wifes nephew, I-Wayne.


Ansel Collins by Westbury Music