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Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea, consisting of the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles. The island, 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi) in area, lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola (the island containing the nation-states of Haiti and the Dominican Republic). Jamaica is the fourth-largest island country in the Caribbean, by area. Inhabited by the indigenous Arawak and Taíno peoples, the island came under Spanish rule following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1494. Many of the indigenous people died of disease, and the Spanish imported African slaves as labourers. Named Santiago, the island remained a possession of Spain until 1655, when England (later Great Britain) conquered it and renamed it Jamaica. The island achieved independence from Britain on 6 August 1962.

Links To Peel

007 (Shanty Town) Desmond Dekker

007 (Shanty Town) Desmond Dekker

Jamaica has contributed ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub music and dancehall to Peel's playlist more than any other country in the world. Peel's first introduction to Jamaican music would have been in 1967 on the pirate station Radio London, which included ska, blue-beat and reggae records in its daytime playlists, including hits like Prince Buster's "Al Capone" and Desmond Dekker's "007". Peel would have played tracks like these when he covered for other DJs during the day, but he didn't play any Jamaican music on his Perfumed Garden show. It seems beyond reasonable dispute that his fascination with the genre really started at the end of the 1960s, after he had settled in London and was working for the BBC. Peel acknowledge that the first reggae record he played was from Jamaican singer Andy Capp with the song Pop-A-Top in 1969.

Bob Marley, one of the most famous reggae artists was the first Jamaican to do a session for Peel's show in 1973, however many Jamaican musicians did very few sessions, due to bookings being made and not getting fulfilled. Examples are Luciano, who cancelled at 48 hours' notice to play a gig instead, and Sugar Minott, who was booked three times and failed to turn up to any of the dates.

Musical Youth Pass the Dutchie

Musical Youth Pass the Dutchie

In the 70's, many Jamaican immigrants who settled in Britain started to make reggae music and contributed to the British reggae scene, which Peel supported immensely on his shows, especially artists such as Musical Youth, who later gained commercial success in the UK during the early 80's. In his self styled 1977 Festive Fifty, Peel nominated four Jamaican artists as one of his favourite Top 61 artists of the year.

Dancehall a music genre from Jamaica started to be prevalent on Peel's programmes in the 80's and later decades was criticised by many for the use of sexist and homophobic lyrics in their songs. Nonetheless Peel tried to be conscious on which dancehall tracks he would play on his shows that were not misogynist to women or gays.

Peel co-hosted a one off reggae show in 1986 on BBC Radio One called Caribbean Celebration with Ranking Miss P, a British DJ of Jamaican descent, where some of the artists played on the programme came from Jamaica.

In 1997, Peel spoke to Mark Lamarr about his recent trip to Jamaica and the records he got from the country. During that conversation, Peel mentioned that he was scared of flying and the only place in the Caribbean he'd been was St. Lucia. He argued that records that are made in places like Jamaica can be bought here in the UK.

Croatia-Jamaica 3-1 (1998) 1st game

Croatia-Jamaica 3-1 (1998) 1st game

Peel's fondness of Jamaica was not only through its music, but also the national football team, where they qualified for the 1998 World Cup finals, where he was disappointed after they lost to Croatia 3-1 in their first match on his 24 June 1998 (BFBS) show:

"One of the matches that I have seen with which I was most engaged was the first match featuring Jamaica, and I really wanted them to win. I mean, any reasonable person would, I think, and I was very disappointed that they didn't, but they were very brave, and Robbie Earl's goal, fantastic goal..."

To celebrate Jamaica 50th anniversary of its independence, the BBC produced the series Reggae: The Story Of Jamaican Music in 2002, where Peel took part and discussed on the first episode, the BBC's initial reluctance of playing reggae music and the Jamaican reggae artist Max Romeo controversial Wet Dreams song.


Bob Marley & The Wailers - 1973 John Peel BBC Sessions

Bob Marley & The Wailers - 1973 John Peel BBC Sessions

The following artists from Jamaica recorded sessions for the John Peel show. Years indicate recording dates; for further details, see linked artist pages. Please add more information if known.

Festive Fifty

Culture - Two Sevens Clash - 09 - See Them A Come

Culture - Two Sevens Clash - 09 - See Them A Come

The following Jamaican artists had Festive Fifty entries:


(Tracks played by Peel from various artist (v/a) compilations with a specific Jamaica theme, excluding releases on Trojan Records (see label page) and other reggae v/a collections (see Reggae Compilations). Please add more information if known.)

(cassette - Smile Jamaica) NME

(LP - "Keep On Coming Through The Door…" Jamaican Deejay Music 1969 - 1973)

(LP - Party Time In Jamaica) Studio One

(v/a 7xLP - Pressure Drop - Island Celebrates 25 Years Of Jamaican Music) Mango

(LP - U Roy And Friends - With A Flick Of My Musical Wrist (Jamaican Deejay Music 1970-1973))

(LP - Feel Like Jumping - Rock Steady And Reggae From Jamaica 1966-68) Receiver

(CD - The Rough Guide To The Music Of Jamaica) World Music Network

(CD – Boogu Yagga Gal: Jamaican Mento) Heritage

(3xCD - Trojan Jamaican Hits Box Set)

See Also

External Links


  1. Jamaican natives, the Cimarons migrated to Britain in 1967.
  2. Born in Jamaica in 1952 and moved to the UK in 1962.
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