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King Tubby

Biography

If anyone has a claim to having "invented" dub reggae, it is King Tubby. As a disc cutter at Treasure Isle, Osbourne Ruddock enjoyed access to the label's archives. He used this to press exclusive instrumental versions of R&B and rock steady classics -- the very first dub plates -- to play on his Home Town Hi-Fi soundsystem, the idea being to give his DJs (including the one and only U-Roy) more opportunity to showcase their vocal skills. After conducting this experiment for the first time at a 1969 dance, King Tubby's popularity soared and he was courted for production work with Jamaica's top talent, the fruits of which include Blackboard Jungle Dub with Lee Perry and the sublime King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown with Augustus Pablo. A gifted electrical engineer, he went on to develop such techniques as splitting a record's frequencies between amplifiers (enabling him to alter instrument levels in the mix at will) and using echo and reverb effects. Producers to have schooled at King Tubby's side include King Jammy, Scientist and Prince Phillip Smart -- he also designed the circuitry at Lee Perry's notorious Black Ark studio. Sadly, King Tubby's career of innovation was violently ended when he was shot dead outside his home in a suspected robbery on February 6, 1989.
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