ArtistImage

HARRY J


Writer


REGGAE

Words such as pioneer and classic are two of the most overused words in the music industry, often describing tracks that have only just been released. But there is no exuberance when applying these terms to one of Westbury’s latest clients, Harry Zephaniah Johnson, aka Harry J.

Throughout his 40-year career. Harry J has established himself as one of the cornerstones of the reggae industry. Since the late Sixties he has produced and written some of reggae’s most important hits including the seminal song “The Liquidator”, the soundtrack to the Ska and skinhead movement.

Raised in Westmoreland, Jamaica, Harry quickly established himself as a credible record producer; with his own record label Harry J releasing The Beltones’ “No More Heartaches,” considered by many to be one of the first reggae singles. He also worked at Studio One, producing the massive single “Cuss Cuss” sung by Westbury stable-mate Lloyd Robinson, which has been become one of the most popular riddims in reggae.

In October 1969 Harry released his most successful track, “The Liquidator” by The Harry J All Stars reaching No.9 in the UK Singles chart. The track connected with audiences from all backgrounds, becoming an anthem of the original ska/skinhead movement in the UK while its catchy bassline was later immortalised in the Staple Singers’ classic track “I’ll Take you There”. Throughout the forty years since the release of “The Liquidator”, the song has been adopted as the home anthem for Chelsea football team. The album of the same title also achieved great success in the UK, when released through his imprint label ‘Harry J’ via Trojan Records.

Harry J enjoyed further mainstream success, working with the duo Bob (Andy) and Marcia (Griffiths) on the single “Young, Gifted and Black” which reached No. 5 in the UK charts. Harry J continued releasing a stream of successful singles in the UK and Jamaica producing for many artists including Jimmy London and Winston Blake.


 While establishing his credentials as a chart-topping producer he also set up his own studio, “Harry J Studio” in Kingston, Jamaica. This soon became one of the most popular studios on the island; Bob Marley recorded several albums in a three year period from 1973, including the classic album “Catch A Fire”. During this time Johnson also developed a strong relationship with Island Records’ founder, Chris Blackwell, leading him to record artists such as Burning Spear and The Heptones.
During the 1980’s the studio was a hub of creativity, and with the help of the former Studio One engineer Sylvan Morris, Harry worked with the likes of Ken Boothe, Augustus Pablo and Johnny Nash.

After taking a seven year hiatus during the 90’s the studio was re-launched in 2002 with a session for the mighty Burning Spear amongst others. Harry’s legacy as a reggae music pioneer is more than fitting and we look forward to further releases from the maestro himself.