Who was the first rock act to apply Jamaican music?

I’m just listening to Elton John’s “Good Bye Yellow Brick Road” album for the first time, and of course there’s the obligatory (for the times) reggae (or rather ska) tune on it. So I began wondering which rock act did it first. I suspect that it’s another first for the Beatles with “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and can’t think of an earlier example. Since I hate this fucking song although I love the Beatles and really like ska, I want it to be a better song. Does anybody know an earlier example?

Millie Small’s version of “My Boy Lollipop” was pretty much a pure ska song, and that’s 1964, four years before “Ob-La-Di.” She wasn’t exactly a rock act, but still, it was a big hit.

Well, I know this song and its history, but I meant a white, non-Jamaican Rock act.

I would guess Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now”

That’s four years later than the Beatles.

ETA: After checking wiki, I see that he began recording in Jamaica in 1968, but wasn’t successful yet. So he’s a candidate.

Well, per the OP, I still wouldn’t consider Johnny Nash a “rock” act.

Procol Harum did Boredom in 1969.

Their “Skip Softly My Moonbeams” from the previous year might also qualify.

You probably can look to someone from the UK: their shuffle music of the early 60s was a lot like reggae.

Well, after having given the criterion of a white rock act, we should stick to that and rule him out.

That’s a good one! Since it’s from '68 like Ob-La…, I’m now of to googling which was recorded/released first.

ETA: Procol from September, Beatles November. So it’s an earlier example.

Beatles, 1963. “I Call Your Name” instrumental section is ska.

And the fab four strike back! I had to take a listen first since I’d never noticed it, but I guess you can really call that part a ska rhythm.

ETA: here’s the song.


The Paragons were early 60s. Not sure if they are going to beat the Beatles.

[quote=“Push_You_Down, post:13, topic:684778”]

The Paragons were early 60s. Not sure if they are going to beat the Beatles.


From wiki:

Not exactly a white, non-Jamaican rock act. :wink:

You got to define ‘rock act’, and I presume you mean amplified and recorded because the Notting Hill Carnival started in, well, it depends who you talk to.

I’ve never heard that as remotely Caribbean sounding. It sounds very eastern European to me, the same territory they would revisit a few years later with the mock-Hungarian “Beyond the Pale.”

Well, I don’t know how to define it any clearer than I did before, as a white, non-Jamaican rock act. These are three criteria which are all negated by the Paragons example above. So, Eric Clapton or Led Zeppelin (though they were way too late to the party) would count, but not the Wailers or Toots and the Maytals. Granted, Johnny Nash was a border case, but he’s black and had made pop before starting reggae, so I ruled him out. I’m not asking for the first Jamaican chart hit.

I really don’t understand why the frame for my question seems so hard to understand.

ETA: this was addressed at BrokenBriton.

cos the chances are it happened in a club, dance hall or coffee bar in west or central London in front of 30 people. And the band probably wasn’t all white, depending on what you mean by a ‘band’.

Reggae/ska fusion/crossover just evolved on the working class streets. Sure, the beats were picked up and recorded at some random point by some random rock band but they sure as hell didn’t start anything.

Ok, I understand, and actually that’s exactly what I’m interested in. There was some crossover from Jamaican music to the London rock scene in the early sixties, and I thought there must’ve been some white British band who first applied that to their set and/or recordings. I’m looking for that act, but I assume you know a little about that Notting Hill scene and the racially blurry lines involved in that process. I’d be glad if you could elaborate.

Sorry, I was going by the OP and not the later clarification.