Report: Grooving With The Legends - Bunny Striker Lee's Birthday in London, UK 2014
11/14/2014 by Angus Taylor
Veteran reggae producer Bunny “Striker” Lee celebrated his 73rd birthday and 47 years in the business at London's Jazz Cafe on Wednesday night. A cavalcade of singers, selectors and soundmen turned out to salute the irrepressible Jamaican impresario, who recorded his first hit tune back in 1967. He was almost upstaged in the longevity stakes by headline act Owen Gray, sharing his 1975 Striker side Natty Bongo. "I was first to make a record in Jamaica" the still sprightly Gray announced. "I've had 57 years in the business. I'm 75".
Gray received an Award of Excellence from representatives of the Alpha Boys School, which he attended. "This man is a living legend" said Striker - who was presented with a birthday cake in the form of a record player. There were also several moving tributes to the late John Holt during the evening. Dave Barker sang Holt's do-over of the Temptations, A Love I Can Feel; Donna Michael rendered his cover of the Isleys For the Love of You; and the Blackstones harmonised on Holt's group the Paragons’ Smiling Face.
"May John Holt rest in peace" said Striker "I brought him in this country first". The audience held a minute’s silence and a 30 second ovation (to drums from the band which included Mafia and Fluxy, Tony Ruff Cutt and Black Steel). "If I called all the names of people I know - there would be no show" quipped journalist/producer/historian Mandingo, co-master of ceremonies with Bobo El Número Uno. Attendees included Dr Alimantado, David Rodigan, Clint Eastwood, Count Prince Miller, Dimples from the Marvels, Lloydie Coxsone and Cecil from King Tubbys sound. Also present were Christopher Ellis, son of Alton Ellis, and Dennis Brown's daughter, Marla.
At the end of the party Bunny called his own son to the stage saying "Little Striker where you hide? You’re going to take over the thing one day".
PHOTO BY RON VESTER