The influence of reggae on modern pop music is enormous, particularly in the United Kingdom, where a large
immigrant workforce first began importing the sounds of the Caribbean in the 1950's.
Reggae itself is derived from "rocksteady" - a slowed down version of ska better suited to Jamaica's heat.
Ska in turn was an early 1960's development of New Orleans r&b
, the sounds having been
picked up by Jamaican musicians from radio broadcasts in the United States. Influential in the early period of
ska's development were The Skatalites
, particularly Jackie Mitoo
One of the first reggae artists to make it big outside Jamaica was Desmond Dekker
, who had hits with "The Israelites"
and "It Mek"
in 1968 and 1969, at about the same time as Jimmy Cliff was finding a wider audience
for his more mainstream sound.
U.S. born Johnny Nash
did a lot to promote the style's wider acceptance with the self-penned hit "I Can See Clearly Now "
but reggae finally produced it's first star of international standing in the mid 1970's, when Bob Marley
brand of folk-influenced reggae-pop, ( with political undertones ) which spoke to people of all race, colour and
creed the world over.
Some of Marley's seminal recordings in the early 1970's were produced by Lee 'Scratch' Perry
, who is widely held to be the architect
of the transition from ska to the new reggae-pop sound, a sound taken up and used by the likes of Eddy Grant
and The Police
in the 1970's
and evident in "Uptown Top Ranking"
, the one-off U.K. hit in 1978 for Althea & Donna
Leading reggae proponents in the 1980's include Maxi Priest, The Specials, UB40, The Selecter
who led the so-called 2-Tone and ska / mod revivals of that decade in the U.K.
Some elements initially based in reggae, particularly "toasting" - i.e. talking over - music by DJ's and MC's,
and the mixing techniques found in "dub" ( an instrumental form of reggae ), have had a big influence on the
development of later styles, most notably rap
and the reggae / rap hybrid known as "ragga".