Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Feb 5th 2010 12:15PM by John D. Luerssen
Born Vivian Jackson, he was one of six children raised in a Kingston ghetto. Fascinated with the Bible from an early age, he left home at the age of 12 to deliver the message of God throughout Jamaica.
When he was 17, Jackson -- who had rheumatoid arthritis -- underwent an operation that left him unable to walk without crutches after suffering from malnutrition, pneumonia, brain fever and an ulcer. In his mid-20s, he claimed to have heard angels singing the chorus "Be you, yabby yabby you" and had the idea to make a record. With no money to complete the task, he convinced local musicians to work with him for free in 1972. They cut the single, 'Conquering Lion' for King Tubby under the name Vivian Jackson and the Ralph Brothers.
His debut album, 'Conquering Lion,' which was recorded at Lee "Scratch" Perry's Black Ark studio, was cut as Vivian Jackson and the Prophets and also included vocalists Alaric Forbes and Bobby Melody. By 1975, You had become not only a musician but a producer, helping Wayne Wade craft his essential 'Black Is Our Colour.' He would go on to work with Michael Rose, Tommy McCook, Big Youth and others.
You rounded out the 1970s by continuing to perform with the Prophets on revered albums like 'Chant Down,' 'Babylon Kingdom' and 'Deliver Me From My Enemies,' while stepping into the dub movement on releases with both Tubby and McCook. By the early 1980s, You had become a producer of choice, working on reggae releases by Tony Tuff and Michael Prophet.
Intermittent health problems curtailed much of his recording in the late '80s, but You bounced back in the early 1990s, working with new artists like Curtis Prophet and Shuggy Milligan, while still releasing his own music, including the discs 'Presenting New Roots Reggae' and 'Yabby You Meets Mad Professor and Black Steel at Ariwa Studio.' The latter was tracked at Mad Prof's south London facility and gave way to efforts in the past decade supporting the reissue of much of his catalog via the record label Blood and Fire. Jackson is survived by his wife, Jean.