Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Day 87 of 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge - Lord Flea - It All Began With Adam & Eve
Lord Flea, born Norman Byfield Thomas somewhere between 1931 and 1934 depending on who you ask, was the first "rock star" of Jamaican music who played a big part in launching the calypso craze in the United States during the 1950s. Though the music he played was clearly Jamaican mento it was all lumped together to appeal to foreign tastes. Lord Flea said in an interview, "In Jamaica, we call our music 'mento' until very recently. Today, 'calypso' is beginning to be used for all kinds of West Indian music. This is because it's become so commercialized there. Some people like to think of West Indians as carefree natives who work and sing and play and laugh their lives away. But this isn't so. Most of the people there are hard working folks, and many of them are smart business men. If the tourists want "calypso", that's what we sell them." And that is exactly what they did. Lord Flea and his Calypsonians were signed by Bill Saxon who traveled to Jamaica in search of authentic calypso and performed at his Miami nightclub Club Calypso for six months at a time. In 1957 the band was featured in Life Magazine, appeared on the Perry Como Show and appeared in two calypso based Hollywood films; Calypso Joe and Bop Girl Goes Calypso. Unfortunately, the craze didn't have much staying power and American producers began to take the easy route by doing away with the authenticity and producing sanitized versions done by American artists. Sadly, on May 18th 1959, Lord Flea died from Parkinson's Disease and the world lost its first Jamaican Superstar. But let's get to today's tune... the 87th track in the 365 Day Challenge is "It All Began With Adam & Eve" originally released in 1957 as a single on Capital Records. Dig it!