Mighty Diamonds & Phone Bill live plus Kuumba & Raskiddus interviews inna Midnight Dread #40 Oct. 12, 1980



Nor Cal legends Phone Bill appear in this 33 years ahead complete Midnight Dread program and play twelve top ranking/scorching and scarce live tracks, including three when they backed The Mighty Diamonds in their local debut June 5th 1980 at the Coconut Grove in Santa Cruz. The bulk of the Phone Bill selections are from an amazing live show in Monterey, California August 2nd 1980 when they presented their massive ‘review style’ production in full flower. Two of Phone Bill’s principals, leader Kuumba Rhymer from Ghana and yardie vocalist John Cornelius (aka Raskidu or Ras Kiddus) are interviewed and speak on the history of roots reggae & Jamaican musicians living in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s. Highlighted are a mighty version of Bob Marley’s “Happiness (Hurting Inside)” and “Battles Never Done” both featuring the top flight vocals of ‘Phone Bill’s Daughters’. The week’s Reggae Calendar includes a double bill of Burning Spear & The Titans live at The Old Waldorf in San Francisco, The English Beat & Talking Heads at Zellerbach Auditorium across the bay on the campus at UC Berkeley and elsewhere, as well as Earl Zero’s ‘final repeat command performance’ at Berkeley Square (with KTIM DJs Doug Wendt and David Bassin) before Z leaves on tour. M Al’s reggae sound studio in Oakland unveils their first album, Session’s SEE UP AZEEM at the end of the show. Hear these and many more outstanding ripples of reggaemylitis infecting the bay music scene. Here’s a 1985 photo taken in Japan of The Mighty Diamonds (Tabby, Bunny, & Judge) with their manager Turk Arsenault of Strictly Rockers International, who was determined to break the group world-wide:



Ras Kiddus (above) does some spontaneous voice-overs on a couple tracks. Other members of his then backing group Phone Bill besides founder Kuumba include Tanya Cotton, Kim, Brett & Bruce Harmon, Larry Batiste, Clay Tovan, Ihinza, Del on git, Chris on trumpet and Maxi Bowman on keyboards. Joe Higgs also gets a couple plays as he’s scheduled to appear with Phone Bill the next month. Behind the scenes Midnight Dread and others are reeling from the news parlayed by Roger Steffens that week that Bob Marley has taken ill and may only have days to live so “Redemption Song” is played in hopes such rumors prove false. There is some problem with the KTIM MD 120 minute aircheck master as the studio cassette recorder gets all jiggy on part of side one with some spooky slip slackin’ random take-up distortion on a couple tracks (intermittent mainly between the 30 and 44 minute or so marks) that kinds of adds to the approaching October pre-Halloween flavor. Don Weir’s Music City has a weird ad mentioning Iran’s Ayatollah reminding us of the looming Reagan/Carter Presidential election just weeks away. Here’s a couple very rare Bay Area posters from the era including an African-American produced ‘Olufunmi Presents’ poster illustrating the strong 1980 live show connection between punk and reggae in a series of legendary presentations at the American Indian Center in San Francisco:


plus this historic flyer for Phone Bill’s ground-breaking appearance at S.F.’s Mission High School which really forwarded the reggae vibe to the teenage youth of the day:


Dreadcasting over the air since 1979 & online since 1996 dreader 21st Century Midnight Dread programs air daily at 12am including replays often heard in his Best of All Worlds high noon slot and where one can also become conscious at 6am with the indigenous sounds of Native Son Rising, all curated by Doug everyday, all times Pacific. Many more Midnight Dread sights & sounds here and on this blog’s Midnight Dread page. Go deh. All of dem.

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