"When we talk about Jamaican music, we all know what that implies; getting into a spiral of musicians, singers, producers, labels, wives and occasionally children claiming the rights of those that are no longer.
But Glen Adams does not do things by halves. Singer? Yes. Composer? Yes, that too. What about musician? As well. It would be difficult to name the big hits of Jamaican music without naming Glen Adams.
From the time of the Sound Systems, Glen Adams already got himself noticed by launching a number one hit in the dancehalls together with his sister Yvonne Harrison, another solo artist about whom we will be speaking momentarily. That recording where Glen and Yvonne sange "Wonder Thirst" together has never been found. It was the song through which Coxsone Dodd established relations with the siblings. Back then, all the pressings were records made of wax which lasted only a few sessions, so that the Sound System had to buy them again. That was the beginning of Jamaican music and the first appearance of many musicians and singers on the island.
Ken Boothe was the first singing partner with whom Glen rose to fame. Under the name "Ken and Glen," they enjoyed great success and participated with Stranger Cole in what was the first appearance of the three together: "One, Two, Three" a catchy ska reminiscent of the island's Spanish heritage.
But there is something that many of us wonder: when did Glen move to playing the piano and organ and away from vocals? Whoever has had a chance to visit Jamaica knows that nothing goes as planned. The island has its own pace and trying to fight it is like swimming against the tide, only you get tired and end up in the place where you started. And that's how Glen, on an October afternoon in 1968, recorded over eight themes in just one afternoon which are still praised and danced to on all specialized dance floors.
Half of the musicians that were scheduled for the session that afternoon did not turn -up due to a lack of payment by the producer for another recording. So Glen took the seat at the piano. However when it didn't work out, he changed places with Lloyd Charmers on keys that afternoon and recorded Lester Sterling's "Bangarang" and Slim Smith's "Everybody Needs Love." At that moment, Glen Adams fell in love with this powerful instrument and went on to record with the Hippy Boys, Slim Smith, The Reggae Boys and the great Upsetters.
We mentioned Yvonne above, Glen's sister Yvonne Harrison. A few months ago I had the good fortune to stay with Roy Panton and Yvonne Harrison at their home in Toronto Canada where they currently live. That night we talked at length about Glen. They told me that when Glen was ill, he asked that they bring him a portable keyboard to the hospital so that he could play while he was recovering from the illness that eventually took him to the grave in 2010 after visiting Jamaica.
In 1977, Glen recorded "Black Cup," the instrumental theme with which we honor him today. To the rocksteady rhythm on "Why Did You Leave Me" by the Heptones, Glen gallops with a harpsichord sound which is impossible to escape and makes one think of the dark and bloody times of the 18th century. It could well be the soundtrack for a Victorian zombie feast. The percussion appears like breaking bones unable to withstand such a heavy riddim. Hopefully tonight his spirit will conquer and dominate us, converting us into slaves for life to reggae music. AMEN."
Glen Adams - Black Cup - 2015 Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular Track Two