Edi Fitzroy ADD

Edi Fitzroy

Edi Fitzroy is a hero to the people of Jamaica. He is credited with being the first radio personality to play Reggae on the air in Jamaica—read that again—he was the first person to play Reggae on the radio in Jamaica.

When he did, it was a major controversy, but the people loved it. It goes like this: he and his colleague locked themselves in the radio booth, refused to come out, and continued playing Reggae all day on a predominantly R&B and Soul station. This event was recreated in the movie “Rockers.” At this time in the early 1970s, there was only one radio station on the island (JBC), so it was a major event that everyone heard. The buzz soon resulted in Reggae being played full-time on the island and several Reggae radio stations being born. Another interesting event is that Edi Fitzroy performed with the Clash on their hit, “Bankrobber” from the “Black Market Clash” album. Edi Fitzroy was born Fitzroy Edwards on November 17, 1955 in the cool hills of Chapleton, Clarendon, the son of a Sound System Operator Vasco Edwards and Kathleen Robinson. After leaving Primary School he went to live with his mother in Whitfield Town, Kingston and attended West Indies Commercial Institute where he studied accounts. As a teenager Edi followed the sound systems, in particular Anchio One. In January 1973 Edi joined the staff of the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC) as an Accounting Officer and was later promoted to Accountant - Payables. A job he held for 22 years (leaving in 1995).

Edi did his recordings and music performances concurrently with his Accounting job at the JBC. 1978 Exposed to music, and in particular Jamaican popular music from an early age; an association with Pam Hickling and Michael ‘Dread at the Control’ Campbell led Edi to do his first set of recordings – Miss Molly (a hit on the Jamaican Top 10 Charts) and Countryman, both written by Hickling. He continued to record with Mikey Dread, and African Religion, The Gun and Stylee followed. 1980 Resulting from his hits during 1978 and 1980 Edi travelled to London with Mikey Dread where he did opening acts for ‘The Clash’, A British Rock Group. 1981.

A split with Mikey Dread followed shortly after their return to Jamaica, and after a ‘cool-out’ break Edi began recording with the ‘Musical Ambassador’ Trevor Elliot, then of the Agency for Public Information (now Jamaica Information Service). This marked the renewal of a long-standing relationship with Elliot and Graphics Artist/Songwriter Paul Aiken, then also of API. Edi’s First Album, CHECK FOR YOU ONCE, produced by Trevor Elliott released in 1981 was Number One on the Jamaican Hit Parade for four weeks, and in England the best selling Album coming out of Jamaica at that time. The Album included such hits as Youthman Penitentiary, African Queen, Work On Mr. Farmer, First Class Citizen, People Dem a Suffer, among others. This album was also released in the United States by Alligator Records under the title “Youthman Penitentiary” Edi sees himself as an Artiste from the people, of the people and for the people. He has done numerous benefit shows to aid community improvement, schools’ fund raising, churches and other charitable organisations. The lyrics of Edi’s songs portray his closeness to the people, and are borne out of his experiences in the country parts and the by-ways of Whitfield Town. To quote Edi: “I can’t sing fantasies when there is so much wrong on the earth.

I must sing about things going on, I have to remind the people when they forget. I won’t stop trying to uplift the consciousness of my people, and all the oppressed people of the world. I want them to get up and stand up for their rights.” Edi is greatly inspired by the music of the Hon. Bob Marley and would feel a traitor to Marley’s cause if he did not try to help in carrying forward the mission started by Marley. Thus, he writes and/or sings songs with a message. In 1982 Edi received the Press Association of Jamaica Award in recognition of his contribution to the development of Jamaican Reggae music. This same year Edi also received the Award for the JBC Personality of the Year. 1984 In 1984 Edi received the Rockers Award for Most Conscious Performer, after crowning the year with a tribute to women titled ‘Princess Black’. What must be regarded as the most significant achievement of Edi’s music career was the launching of his Second Album titled COMING UP STRONG, a title that seemed to emphasise the stage of his career. This album was started in 1982 and none of the material could be considered new, but yet, how relevant they are to the present. Some of the tracks featured on this Album are JAH Sun, Sow Your Corn, Love The People Want, Easy Ride and Princess Black; done in typical Edi Fitzroy tradition. Also, I must mention the tracks Father which displays a superb performance of vocals, and Chant Them which is quite mystical and enchanting. The stages of unity that brought about the completion of this Album would make an interesting chapter in Edi’s life story. However, special mention must be made of Newton ‘Sipho’ Merritt, who came in at the most crucial part of the journey.

Merritt had faith in the direction Edi was going, and eased the burden by taking some of the load, so that, in oneness the spirit of love prevailed in the long hard journey across the border. In 1985 Edi visited England as an Ambassador, bringing Reggae Music for the first time within the Royal Festival Hall, home of European Classical Music situated on the South Bank of the River Thames. He later played his part during the tour of England described in the music press as, ‘The Magical Mystery Tour’. Edi closed 1985 by winning the Rockers Video Award for ‘Princess Black’. 1986/87 This period saw the release of 45s Death Trap, Easy Ride, Shame and Level Yu Vibes. 1988 ECLIPSE, Edi’s Third Album released September 1988 in Europe and the United States, and later that same year in Jamaica; produced by Delroy Thompson and Carl ‘Jaco’ Thelwell. If an “eclipse” means the passing of one time period and the birth of a new one then this Album was aptly named. Dancehall Feel, Shout It Loud, Lonely Woman, Hotel California and What A Trick are among the ten tracks featured on this Album.

What A Trick is the first single released in Jamaica and spent twenty-three weeks on the local charts. Later that same year Edi’s Fourth Album, POLLUTION was released on the Bromac Label, produced by Owen Brown. Dreadlocks Robinson, Working Class Woman, Death Trap and Pollution are among the ten tracks featured on this Album. 1988-90 In 1988, 1989 and 1990 Edi received the Award for the Most Cultured-oriented Artiste in the 7th, 8th and 9th Annual International Music Awards held in Miami, Chicago and Jamaica respectively. Making it three consecutive years. 1990 In 1990 Edi received the Sisters Celebration Award for his contribution to their concerts since 1985. A women’s group dealing with crisis, counselling, etc. 1992/93 While at the JBC Edi started his acting career and performed in the popular local JBC TV Programme “Lime Tree Lane”. Edi’s Fifth Album, DEEP IN MI CULTURE on Henry K Label was released (Vinyl and Compact Disc) December 9, 1993 at the Bob Marley Museum, in Kingston, Jamaica. Edi has made his impact in the music industry with his message songs of consciousness and DEEP IN MI CULTURE did not betray the formula that had propelled him over the years. There are ten tracks on this Album which includes Deep In Mi Culture, Love The People Want, Bounty Hunter, Revolution and Hunting. Singles released from this Album prior to its launch were Deep In Mi Culture and Love The People Want. Other singles released in 1993 were Bounty Hunter (with Papa San), Don’t You Worry and Mind Must Be Free (with Jack Radics). 1994/95 Singles released during this period on the Confidence Label (Edi’s label) were Prison Life, Border Line and Jamaican Girl. Edi did an extensive tour of the United States East and West Coast with the Massawa Band during the Summer of 1995. Her performed at the Vermont Reggae Fest, Reggae on the River and more.

1996 This year saw Edi receiving the Woman to Woman Award in recognition of his contribution to their causes. Sistren Inc operated this women’s group. 1996/97 Single – Guiltiness by Edi and Cutty Ranks on the Digital B Label was released in 1996. Singles released from Edi’s Sixth Album, I CRY are Oh Jah, I Cry and Africa Is Calling (with Frankie Paul), which was Number Two on the Top 40 Chart (RJR Radio) and Number Seventeen on the Star Chart (print media) during March 1996.

Other Singles released were Mr. Bossman and Live Upright on Jack Scorpio Label. I Love You My Dear – Brick Wall Label (Bobby Digital). 1997 Edi worked on his Seventh Album THERE IS A FIRE for K.C. Whyte of 7 Star. Singles released during this period were Trickster, Not Giving Up So Tough Luck, Johnny and a remix of Princess Black (Fitzroy/Sizzla) all on Bobby Digital Label. During 1997 he toured North American with Masawa Band and Overstand Band. Performances in Colorado, Los Angeles, Portland Oregon, Humble County, San Francisco Early in the year Edi was on a U.S. West Coast tour and did a number of shows in California, Seattle, Philadelphia and San Diego. Edi released a remix of Jacob Miller’s 1970’s single, Dreadlocks Can’t Live Ina Tenement Yard for Producer Goldfinger.

Other singles released during the year were Jailhouse produced by Dwayne and Come Along Youthman for Jack Scorpio. 1999 Singles released in 1999 were Bury The Guns, and I Love You on the African Museum Label. TOGETHERNESS (No. 8) an Album in the works by Gregory Isaacs and Edi. Release date undecided.

Edi Fitzroy died on 4th March 2017 in Kingston, Jamaica