From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Leslie Kong and his brothers (Fats and Cecil) used to run a restaurant, ice cream parlour and record shop named Beverley's in Orange Street, Kingston. In 1961, he met Jimmy Cliff singing outside of his shop; this encounter led him to decide to launch his own record label, "Beverley's", and to record Cliff's first song "Dearest Beverley", thus launching his career.
In 1962, he recorded Bob Marley's first single: "One Cup of Coffee" and "Judge Not", and Jimmy Cliff's hit, "Miss Jamaica". Throughout the 1960s Kong kept on recording many Jamaican artists from ska to reggae through rocksteady including Joe Higgs, Desmond Dekker, Toots & The Maytals, Derrick Morgan, John Holt and Stranger Cole. A wise businessman, Kong made from 1963 a licence deal with Chris Blackwell's Island Records subdivision "Black Swan" label, then with Graeme Goodall's Pyramid imprint and with Trojan Records by the end of the 1960s.
Kong is also known for being the first Jamaican producer to get international hits with long-time collaborator Desmond Dekker, in 1967 with "007 (Shanty Town)" and above all in 1969 with "Israelites" which topped the UK Charts in April 1969 and went to number nine on the US charts in July 1969, selling over two million copies. During the early reggae period, he worked with Bob Marley again this time with his band The Wailers (The Best of the Wailers) and enjoyed several successful hits with The Pioneers' "Long Shot Kick The Bucket" or The Melodians' "Rivers of Babylon" and "Sweet Sensation". His works with The Maytals also led to many hits including "54-46 That's My Number" and UK top chart single "Monkey Man".
Throughout his career, Kong employed the best musicians in town as a session band under the name of "The Beverley's Allstars" including musical directors, Drumbago, in the ska era or Roland Alphonso during the rocksteady, early reggae times. Other artists who recorded at Beverley's include Ken Boothe, Bruce Ruffin, The Gaylads, Delroy Wilson and Peter Tosh.
Kong died of a heart attack, aged 38, in August 1971, after being allegedly 'cursed' by Peter Tosh of The Wailers after a dispute over the release of an album entitled The Best of the Wailers; the Wailers believed that the release of such an album was premature, saying that their best music was yet to come. Kong makes a cameo appearance in the film The Harder They Come, where he is seen overseeing a recording session with Toots and the Maytals. He had a nephew Errol Kong, who recorded several singles and an album as I Kong a.k.a. Ricky Storme.
- Various Artists - Original Reggae Hot Shots - 1969 - Beverley's/Trojan (1975)
- Various Artists - King Size Reggae - 1970 - Beverley's
- Various Artists - Golden Hits By The Greats - 1970 - Beverley's
- Various Artists - Reggae Chartbusters - 1970 - Beverley's
- Various Artists - King Size Reggae - 1970 - Trojan Records
- Various Artists - Hot Shots of Reggae - 1970 - Trojan Records
- Various Artists - Best Of Beverley's Records 1969-1970 - Trojan Records (1981)
- Various Artists - The Best Of Beverley's Records or Masterpieces From The Works of Leslie Kong - Island Records/Trojan (1981)
- Various Artists - The King Kong Compilation - Island Records (1981)
- Various Artists - Leslie Kong's Connection Vol 01 - 1969-1971 - Jet Set Records
- Various Artists - Leslie Kong's Connection Vol 02 - 1969-1971' - Jet Set Records