Winston Reedy is renowned as one the most successful and popular UK based reggae singers. Born Winston Reid in the Jamaican parish of St Catherine, he attended local school Mount Industry before arriving in Britain in 1967, where he settled with his parents in north London.
His first foray into music making came when he joined popular local band X-Press as their lead singer. The group came to prominence after backing Ginger Williams on her recording of ‘I Can’t Resist Your Tenderness’, a massive hit in UK West Indian circles during 1973 and one of the precursors of the lovers rock style that Winston was to mine to winning effect as a solo singer a full decade later. He sang back up vocals on Ms Williams’ recording and soon came to the attention of veteran Jamaican born singer and local talent scout Denzil Dennis, who introduced him to Pama Records. His first single for the label was a rendition of US soul artist Baby Washington’s ‘Breakfast In Bed’, which was produced by Ranny Williams and issued on the company’s subsidiary Pama Supreme label.
Shortly after this, he joined forces as lead vocalist with one of the UK’s top reggae bands The Cimarons and embarked on a long career in their company. The band made a trip to Jamaica in 1975 to record an album called ‘Harder On The Rock’, issuing a version of Bob Marley’s ‘Talking Blues’ from the set with Winston performing lead vocals and scoring a surprise hit on the island with the tune. After signing a deal with Polydor, the group then released an album entitled ‘Maka’ and made further inroads on the local scene as part of the Rock Against Racism collective, working alongside punk bands like Subway Sect and Sham 69 and even recorded a song entitled ‘Rock Against Racism’. By the latter part of the decade, The Cimarons were regarded as one of the UK’s leading reggae acts and toured Europe, the Middle East, Far East, Japan and the West Indies. This created the opportunity for Winston to work with some of the industry’s top names, including Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, The Pioneers and Paul McCartney.
The McCartney association came about when the former Beatle wanted an accomplished act to record reggaefied versions of Beatles and Buddy Holly songs, McCartney having acquired the rights to the Texan rock’n’roller’s back catalogue. This resulted in Winston appearing in the video of Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder’s collaborative ‘Ebony And Ivory’, a worldwide hit.
By 1982, it had become clear to Winston that he had gone as far as he could as a band singer and he decided to embark on a solo career, changing his stage name to Winston Reedy in the process. His first solo single after leaving The Cimarons was a composition of his own entitled ‘Daughter Of Zion’, which immediately soared to the top of the Black Echoes reggae chart and added greatly to his profile as a singer. This was followed by a string of top selling singles, including ‘Paradise In Your Eyes’, ‘Moi Emma Oh’ and, in particular, ‘Dim The Light’, also written by Winston himself, a record which topped the Black Echoes reggae chart for an astonishing nine weeks and remains one of the most popular UK reggae hits of all. As a result of all this activity, Winston was voted Best British Male Vocalist by the listeners of BBC Radio London for three consecutive years in 1982, 1983 and 1984.
This success in turn led to Winston being invited to tour alongside UB40 and following on from this signed a contract with the group’s record label Dep International. An album for the label called ‘Cross Over’ yielded another number one single in ‘Baby Love’. His last tour with the group was also the setting for a video called Winston Reedy Live, which was later broadcast on the programme Cutting Edge courtesy of US MTV.
In more recent years, Winston has continued to record and perform on a regular basis. In 2001, a single entitled ‘She’s The One’ issued by Jet Star made some impact and he now includes the song in his stage act by popular demand. So far this year, he’s released a further two titles with ‘Sentimental Man’ for Metropolis and the rootsier ‘Door Peeper’ for the Room In The Sky label, which Jah Shaka sound system have recently been airing. Winston has just completed work on a new album for Jet Star set for release later this year.
Bio courtesy of ©Kizo & Roy Drake Comp
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