The Coxsone Downbeat...

Sir Coxsone DoddDuke Reid, a former policeman, along with his wife, opened the Treasure Isle Liquor store on Bond Street. He was known as 'The Trojan', after the Trojan flatbed truck that he used to transport music and broadcast equipment.

Clement Dodd (pictured at left) was a sound system operator, record producer, and retailer. It was his idea to 'invent' a new popular music for the Jamaican people in an effort to no longer be entirely reliant on music they had no creative control over. He named his sound system the 'Sir Coxsone Downbeat', after the Yorkshire cricketer Coxsone, and began producing local artists in the mid-1950's. The music initially produced was for exclusive use on his many sound-systems. The new sound he envisioned would be a combination of all of the elements of what was being played at the dancehalls: Mento, R&B, Jazz, and Boogie-Woogie, all combined into an entirely new form.

He shared his ideas with Cluet Johnson, who played bass in the band Clue J and the Blues Blasters. The Blues Blasters were perhaps the most popular dance and recording band in Jamaica at the time. The supporters and fans of Coxsone and his 'Coxsone Downbeat' were known as the 'heppest' people in the music scene, and were greeted with the call of 'Skavoovie' by Clue J and the Blues Blasters from onstage.

Throughout the end of the decade Dodd and Reid conducted something of a musical war. All the soundsystems in general began recording their own tracks to gain an advantage over the others. Records were pressed and left unlabeled, so the competition could not see what was being played and 'steal' it for their own sound systems. The sound system war escalated to the point that troublemakers were sent to competing sound-system parties to cause problems. These people were known as Dance Hall Crashers (no relation to the 'Third Wave' sellout band of the same name). This was all due to the rising popularity of merging musical styles whose eventual outcome was not yet evident.

Previously, in the mid to late 50's the primary, if not only, sound coming out of Jamaica was Calypso and a musical style modeled after American-British Pop. As the 50's drew to a close, Clement Dodd was recording Jamaican artists performing a fused type of jazz and r&b.

The ska sound didn't really come together until the very early years of the next decade, no later than 1962 by all accounts. It was truly a completely different sound than any earlier form of music in Jamaica.