Keith Hudson  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Keith Hudson aka the "Dark Prince of Reggae" (1946 in Kingston, Jamaica - 1984 in New York, USA), was a Jamaican reggae artist and record producer.

He is known for his influence on the Dub movement.


Raised in a musical family, Hudson first worked as a dentist but soon was hanging out with musicians like Don Drummond, carrying his trombone into seesions at Coxsone Dodd's Brentford Road studio when he was around fourteen. He entered the music business in 1968 by obtaining some Termites and Carl Bryan rocksteady rhythms from Olympic Records, then recording new vocals over them, such as "Old Broom" and "You Must be Popular". These early 45s on his own Inbidmts and Rebind labels enjoyed sufficient success to enable him to purchase some studio time of his own. His first recording session produced Ken Boothe's Jamaican hit "Old Fashioned Way", later versioned by Dennis Alcapone as "Spanish Omega" and U-Roy as "Dynamic Fashion Way". In the following months he worked with vocalistsDelroy Wilson, Alton Ellis, Bunny Gale and John Holt. He was one of the first to record DJ U Roy in 1969, although U-Roy's first recording had in fact been made with Peter Tosh for Lee Perry - "Earth's Rightful Ruler". Other DJ productions included numerous tunes with Dennis Alcapone, and Big Youth ("S 90 Skank") released in 1972 became the DJ's biggest hit.

Whilst always somewhat limited vocally, he recorded countless tracks as a singer, and his early Jamaican LPs "Furnace" and "Class and Subject" featured his own distinctive rasping vocals. By 1974, he had effectively stopped recording other singers and DJs to concentrate on his own singing. He had completed a large number of backing tracks and, after the limited success of his third LP "Entering the Dragon" he emigrated to the UK, where he signed up with Brent Clarke's Atra label and worked at Chalk Farm Studios in London with a number of British-based reggae musicians, overdubbing his Jamaican rhythms. The first LP to emanate from these sessions was the classic "Flesh of My Skin" (1975), his first UK only release, and one of the first reggae albums proper, rather than merely a collection of singles and fillers. The LP was not released in Jamaica, although it acquired a formidable reputation there amongst more progressive musicians. His next UK-based LP "Torch of Freedom" was less musically successful, with the overdubbing tending to detract from the quality of the original tracks, although its practice of following each vocal cut with its instrumental version was to come into fashion three years later during the "Showcase" craze. In 1975, Hudson released his classic Pick A Dub , widely considered to have been the first deliberately thematic dub album, with tracks specifically mixed in the dub style for the purpose of appearing together on an LP. It fearured dubwise mixes of his "We Will Work It Out", the basic track for "S-90 Skank", with a fresh melodica part by Augustus Pablo, Skiddy and Detroit's "The Exile Song", and remakes of the Abbyssinians "Satta Massagana" and "Declaration of Rights".

While living in Britain, he signed to Virgin Records and issued the wholly misconceived soul/funk LP "Too Expensive". While the broad style of the LP prefigured by some years the Caribbean funk style of Eddy Grant, he possessed neither the vocal ability nor the pop sensibilities of Eddy Grant, and the LP was not a success.

He moved to America in 1978 and resumed working with the Soul Syndicate, who had backed him on many of his best recordings in Jamaica. His album Rasta Communication (1978), which had been preceded by its issue on dub as "Brand", was well received by a wider audience and is considered a roots reggae classic. It was followed by "Nuh Skin Up Dub" and its vocal counterpart "From One Extreme to Another" in 1979. By the early 1980s, he was considerably out of step with modern trends in "dancehall" music. He reverted to his classic rhythms for his next to last LP "Playing It Cool" (1981), recording new vocals on heavily overdubbed mixes of the earlier tunes. He released one final LP in 1982, "Steaming Jungle", which attracted little attention. Although it was reported in 1984 that he was once more working with Aston and Carlton Barrett, who had played on "Pick a Dub" and "Torch of Freedom", Hudson died of lung cancer in November 1984.

Albums discography

  • Class & Subject - 1972 - Mafia
  • Furnace - 1972 - Imbidimts
  • Pick A Dub - 1974 - Mamba / Atra / Blood & Fire (CD)
  • Entering The Dragon - 1975 - Magnet (reissued by Trojan in 2006)
  • Flesh Of My Skin, Blood Of My Blood - 1975 - Mamba /Atra 1988
  • Torch Of Freedom - 1975 - Mamba / Atra
  • Too Expensive - 1976 - Virgin Records
  • Brand - 1977 - Joint International (US) / Brand (UK) / Pressure Sounds (CD)
  • Rasta Communication - 1978 - Joint International (US)
  • From One Extreme To Another - 1979 - Joint International (US)
  • Playing It Cool, Playing It Right - 1981 - Joint International (US)
  • Nuh Skin Up Dub - 1982 - Joint International (US)
  • Steaming Jungle - 1982 - Disc Disk


  • Various Artists - The Big J Of Reggae - 1978 - Joint International (US)
  • Keith Hudson & Various Artists - Studio Kinda Cloudy - Trojan (1988)
  • Keith Hudson - Sky High & The Mau Mau Presents Keith Hudson's Greatest Hits Part 1 - Sky High
  • Keith Hudson & Various Artists - Shades Of Hudson - VP (1996)
  • Keith Hudson & Friends - The Hudson Affair - Trojan (2004)


  • Ian Curtis of the post punk band Joy Division was a fan of Keith Hudson. New Order have even covered the Keith Hudson song "Turn the Heater On" on the Peel Sessions Album.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Keith Hudson" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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