JOEL A. GIBSON (AKA _JOE GIBBS)
BORN MONTEGO BAY 1943
- MIAMI 21 FEB 2008.
More sadness for reggae fans arrived late Feburary this year with news of the death of long-time producer Joe Gibbs in Miami where he has lived for many years.
His story is a reflection of the story of reggae in Jamaica. Like so many of the best producers he started life as an electrical engineer with a small shop repairing and selling TV's and radios. He started selling records to increase his trade and soon took the step of starting a small studio in the back of his shop.
He was there from the birth of rocksteady and was responsible for many hits in JA including Roy Shirley, through the development of reggae and dub.
He was a less hand's on producer than many of his peers but had a keen ear for a hit and knew how to facilitate collaborators and artist to provide many landmarks of the genre both in JA and across the globe.
He worked with many producers and was indeed the man who first employed Lee Perry, without whom Bob Marley may never have reached the audience he did. After Perry left the fold he worked with Niney the Observer (who many British punks will remember for his memorable visits to the UK with his Mighty Observer Sound System) - and many of his own classic productions. But is was perhaps his work with Errol (ET) Thompson that had the greatest impact. Known as "The Mighty Two" they had over 100 JA No.1's and it was during this time that Joe had had his greatest international success.
Having started with rocksteady he moved easily into the ensuing styles that characterised the music. From Uptown Top Ranking - a tune even people not familiar with reggae will all most likely have heard, through Dennis Brown's international hit Money in My Pocket (perhaps the only reggae 12" in many peoples collections), to his awesome African Dub series - featuring his house band at the time The Professionals (whose rythmn section was Sly and Robbie).
It is noticeable that he was not as well known or acknowledged as some of his contemporaries, there seem to be few photos of him, unlike Coxson or Tubby, but his productions turn up again and again. He was a man who recognised what was good and made it happen, able to identify those whose talent needed to shine and ultimately get it on the street and on the radio.
His work has been in the public eye around the world since his early days - in the UK it was tunes like Nicky Thomas' Love of the Common People turning people to the sound of Jamaica, though Culture's seminal LP Two Sevens Clash (he also worked with many of the islands great vocal talents including Dennis Brown, Peter Tosh and Big Youth to name a few) to his hardcore dub outings with The Professionals.
In later years the hits declined as he moved to Miami and concentrated on managing his vast back catalogue but his influence has never really waned. It is hard to imagine the music taking the course it did without his influence.
In changing times it is hard to imagine his like again. He will be greatly missed by those of us who revelled in this music and his ability to bring it to our ears.