Wailers-related Shockers: Joe Higgs & Glen Brown

This Wailers’ related Shockers post includes singles from the collections of DocJah, Midnight Raver, and Dubwise Garage!

Joe Higgs

Joe Higgs, the Godfather of Reggae, was a major influence as a reggae musician and vocal coach in Jamaica. After first recording for producer, and future Prime Minister, Edward Seaga in the late 1950s he was part of the duo Higgs and Wilson together with Roy Wilson. He was a popular artist in Jamaica for four decades and is also known for his work tutoring younger musicians including The Wailers, Jimmy Cliff, and the Wailing Souls’ Garth Dennis.

Higgs mentored young singers in his yard and began working with Bob Marley in 1959. In fact, it was at one of the informal music lessons Joe Higgs held in Trench Town, that Bob and Bunny Livingston met Peter Tosh. Marley acknowledged later on that Higgs had been an influential figure for him, while Higgs described their time together: “I am the one who taught the Wailers the craft, who taught them certain voice technique”.  It was Higgs who introduced the Wailers to Studio One producer Coxsone Dodd in 1963, figuratively sending them on a ride that would propel each to international superstardom.

Higgs is described as the “Father of Reggae” by Jimmy Cliff. For a while Higgs toured with Cliff, acting as his bandleader as well as writing songs for Cliff including “Dear Mother”, and also performed with The Wailers on their first US tour when Bunny Wailer refused to go on the tour in the fall of 1973.

Higgs wrote “Steppin’ Razor” in 1967 as his entry in the Festival Song Contest, later recorded by Tosh without crediting Higgs. Higgs later won a court case to establish his rights as composer but never received any profits from the song’s success.

It is difficult to measure Higgs’ influence on The Wailers’ vocal style and harmony, but it has been said that there would be no Wailers without Joe Higgs.


Glenmore Brown

Glenmore Brown began his musical career in the 1960s as vocalist with Sonny Bradshaw’s jazz group, subsequently recording duets with Hopeton Lewis, Lloyd Robinson and Dave Barker for producers such as Duke Reid and Coxsone Dodd. In the early 1970s, he began working as a producer, initially for the Shalimar label, and recorded Augustus Pablo-influenced melodica tracks, such as 1972’s “Merry Up” (see my previous post on this track!). He also recorded for Prince Buster, Leslie Kong, and Derrick Harriott. He formed two record labels, Pantomime (or Pantomine), and South East Music, and produced tracks for U Roy, Gregory Isaacs, Big Youth, I-Roy, Prince Jazzbo, Johnny Clarke, Lloyd Parks, and Little Roy. Due to low funds, his early releases were pressed in limited runs, but have since become more widely available on various compilations.  Though he did less recording in the late 1970s, he stayed busy producing forthe likes of Wayne Jarrett and Sylford Walker.

In 2000, Small Axe and Terminal Head remixed Brown’s work for a single release that included remixes of fellow reggae artist, Yabby You.  In 2002, Glen Brown’s single produced by Ras Kush, “We Dem A Watch,” was the first release on New York’s Black Redemption label.  Unfortunately, Glen Brown’s health is failing him badly at the time of this writing and he is living in a New York nursing home (this according to a 2013 Gleaner article).

It is Glen Brown’s “2 Wedden Skank” riddim that is sampled by Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “Get Up, Stand Up.” 


Culture’s “Disobedient Children” was recorded and mixed by Errol Brown at Tuff Gong Studios at 56 Hope Road.  The single is pressed to the 56 Hope Road label.

Here is a collection of shocking sounds that was compiled by Roger Steffens and shared by Dubwise garage!


One thought on “Wailers-related Shockers: Joe Higgs & Glen Brown

  1. Pingback: The Wailers Live at Sundown, Edmonton, 1973 (Concert Review) | Midnight Raver

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