The first incarnation of The African Brothers featured Desi Young singing harmony and lead singer Eric Bubble, along with Cornel Campbell, on guitar. They recorded a total of two songs as the African Brothers, both written by Eric. The first was Behold I Live and featured the legendary backing band, Charles Hanna and the Graduates. Eric recalls performing it with this band in several Kingston hotels on the east coast. The second song was Good Samaritan, upon which one of the members from the In Crowd Band replaced Cornel Campbell on background vocals. The group toured the local hotel scene for quite some time before disbanding.
In the early seventies, Eric met a young Lincoln “Sugar” Minott and Winston “Tony Tuff” Morris while playing soccer in Maxfield Park. At the time Sugar Minott was only about 14 years old. It became Eric’s job to manage and motivate the new group. He often had to work hard to coax the guys to rehearsals because they were young and distracted easily by recreational activities like sports and gambling. Mr. Bubbles says in retrospect, “Being a band leader is no easy job.” Collectively, they wrote many songs, but Eric recalls choosing the ones written by Tony because they sounded more commercial. Tony Tuff would ultimately be the lead singer while Eric and Sugar sang harmony. Together, they recorded a total of about seventeen songs over an approximate 3-year time span. Brother Eric fondly recalls rehearsing with his group while sitting on a tomb stone in Maxfield Park, remarking, “That dead guy was blessed to hear a lot of great music.”
The first tune that they recorded was Mystery of Nature for singer/ producer Rupie Edwards. This astounding performance features Tony Tuff on lead vocals, backed by Eric Bubbles and Sugar Minott. There are at least two versions of the recording – a slower version on a compilation LP; and another twelve-inch single version, reissued in the mid eighties. They would then go on to record the superb Party Time on their own, with Mr. Morris once again on lead vocals. After their very short but fruitful tenure with Mr. Edwards, the group went on to record for a number of producers, including Mike Johnson, Clive Chin, L. Rodway, Sullivan (or Sally from the Soul Syndicate Band), Micron and Eric Bubbles himself. The songs produced for Mr. Johnson included the classics, Lead Us Father, Righteous Kingdom, and Youths of Today. All three songs were recorded by Johnson at Randy’s and Dynamic Studios. Lead Us Father is an unusually interesting composition because it does not feature any lead singer; but all three vocalists, singing in unison throughout the entire recording. Youths of Today was written by Sugar Minott, and features him as lead singer for the first time on a recording. All three tunes were recorded for the extremely obscure Ital label and packaged with beautiful red, gold and green, hand-painted art work.
Shortly after their tenure with Mike Johnson, the band would go on to record for a number of producers like: L. Rodway, C.S. Dodd, Clive Chin and Sally (the manager for the Soul Syndicate Band). They recorded No Cup No Bruk for Mr. Coxsone Dodd and You Wrong, written by Eric Bubbles and featuring a duette by Eric and Sugar. They would then go on to record Hold Tight for Clive Chin at Randy’s studio and A Still Tongue – with Winston Morris on lead – for the then manager of Soul Syndicate Band. When they ultimately recorded the Eric Bubbles-procuced, Torturing – on Eric’s own label, Deltot – it would go on to be their most widely popular, biggest selling tune. Written by Tony Tuff, with help from Eric and Sugar, it was played on all the sound systems throughout Jamaica and England.
Following Torturing’s success, the trio went on tour with promoter, “Macka”, who booked them alongside groups like the Maytals, on RJR radio and for a couple of televised performances on Jamaican TV. Shortly afterward, they recorded the legendary, No Warrior, which appeared erroneously on a Vivian Jackson imprint under the name of Tony Tuff. In all actuality, this gem was an unreleased African Brothers (backed by Soul Syndicate Band) recording. During the same time period, Brother Eric wrote and produced Want Some Freedom on his own label and recorded Things and Time, later covered by Barry Brown.
Throughout his recording career, Eric Bubbles has been credited with discovering and producing artists such as the aforementioned Winston “Tony Tuff” Morris and Lincoln “Sugar” Minott; as well as Errol Scorpion, Color Man, Ranking Joe, Lady Ann, Nitty Gritty, Johnny P., Foxy Brown, Everton Blender and many others. Many might be surprised to know that Eric changed Little Joe’s name to Ranking Joe. As he explains “I is a man who likes original things, so I said to Joe, no your name is Ranking.” This would have happened around the same time he used to rock with Jah Screw on the Stone Love Sound System on Whitehall Street in Kingston. Eric remembers, “He was a likkle youth at the time – he used to cork dance on Whitehall street”.
Around 1979, Eric Bubble launched his career as a solo artist with classic tunes like: The Roots of Black People, Fe me Gypsy and Rebel Lion. The latter has been his biggest recording to date. Eric notes, “I eat a lot of food from Rebel Lion alone.” It has sold internationally, including in Jamaica, Europe, America, Canada and Japan. Derrick Harriott was one of Mr. Bubbles’s biggest supporters, buying many copies of The Roots Of Black People for his store in Twin Gates Plaza in Kingston Jamaica.
Presently, Eric has enlisted some of the best names in the music business for this long-awaited, heavily anticipated new project. Recorded both in Jamaica and New York, Eric has employed legendary engineers, Dave Kelly, Phillip Smart, Sylvan Morris and Sidney Mills. Musicians include The Roots Radics, The Soul Syndicate Band, We The People Band, Ron Butler, Val Douglas, Larry McDonald, Bongo Herman, Spark Plug on Bass & Organ, King Diallo and Milton Henry. Brother Eric is determined that this current CD point black people to their roots in Africa. He sights Marcus Mosiah Garvey , Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela as primary influences on his life works and music. So Sit Back, Relax and Enjoy Lyrics from the Great Minds
Brother Eric thanks the following people for their continued support: The Progressive Crew – Dudley Nichols, Carter Van Pelt, Junior Tiger and Winston Pablo from the Mighty Small Axe Sound System. Also, special thanks to VJ Spice and Rocking Dolly, Isshachar, All Star V and Ricky’s on Fulton.
A Tree without roots, got no foundation
You got to know your history, to retrieve your identity
Stand up and be counted, Ye Mighty Race
Who God Bless, No Man Curse
Eric Bubble & The Progressive Crew on This Great Journey
And the Exclamation Point is Mission Is possible!!!
Eric Bubbles aka Derrick Howard