May 2013 Volume 10

The Saturday Night Alternative- A profile of Vintage Musicologist Roy Black

Basil Waite
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           “ Black my story……not his(s)tory”: Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers

Meet Roy Black the Kingston College old boy musicologist extraordinaire. An avid researcher and collector, ‘Blackie’ has been playing and educating the public about vintage music as host of ‘Saturday Night Alternative’ on KLAS FM every  Saturday since 1998, and writing as guest columnist ‘The Music Diaries’ for the Gleaner since December 2011.   

Roy Black has also made his mark in football, both as a player and as a coach  He represented KC at Colts on the Second XI in the 1960’s; Roper Cup in the 1990’s; Melbourne and Santos in the Division 2 and Division 1 in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s respectively; Jamintel  at the level of  the Business House and Civil Service competitions in the early 1970’s; coached many  Franklyn Town youth football champions  in the Bob West Under 17 and the Barry Cross organized Police sponsored Mini Soccer League in 1977. He is also received a coaching diploma from the Jamaica Football federation (JFF) in 1976.

Roy Barrington Black was born under the sign of Leo on 31st July, 1947. The ‘lion’ grew up with his aunt at 130 Orange Street, West Kingston and later moved with his mother to Franklyn Town. He attended All Saints Primary where he rubbed shoulders with the likes of the Goodison brothers and Desmond Lewis. He entered the hallowed portals of Kingston College in January 1959. It was here he shared in the golden era of KC’s outstanding performance in sports and academics. He fondly recalled being part of  the’ purple ball ‘ Manning Cup squads of the 1964-1965 era which were considered the two greatest school boy football  teams in Jamaica’s modern soccer history. Although he did not make the final cut on the  starting eleven, he shared the camaraderie under the George Thompson-coached teams, with the likes of Dennis Johnson, Neville `Sammy’ Oxford, Baldwin  ‘Fish Hook’ Fisher, Anthony ‘Monk’ O’Connor, Noel ‘Mahlee’ Miller, Patrick ‘Patto’ Kirkwood, Oswald ‘Buff’ Bailey, Dennis ‘Joe Dog’ Smith, Carey Coke, Tony Keyes ,Winston ‘Winty’ Davidson, Franklyn ‘Bowla’ Morant, Trevor ‘Jumpy’ Harris, Michael `Mouse Brown’ Vernon, Derrick Bryan, Courtney Hyatt, Leslie Lucas, Joseph ‘Joey’ Alvaranga, Leopold ‘Offside’  Jackson and Billy Perkins.

Roy Black left KC in 1968. Armed with 6 Ordinary Level and 1 Advance Level certificates, he soon entered the work day world when he was snapped by up Jamintel, then one of the highest paying corporate entity on the island. He remained with the telecommunication giant until he was made redundant in 2001. During the period with the telecommunication entity, he captained the football team to the finals of three Civil Service Division 1 competition, and one final of the Business House Division 1 Football competition. He also represented the country in the International Telecommunication Football competition in Barbados in 1973. During his stint at Jamintel , he underwent job training which included  a certificate in language and communication from the Cable and Wireless training school in 1992 and certificate in computer studies from  the Institute of Technology in 1993.

It was in the music business though, that Roy Black made the most impact on the national consciousness. He started with the serious collection of vinyl records in the 1980’s. This was facilitated by the attractive surplus income he was earning at Jamintel as well as the proximity of the recording industry to his Orange Street abode. He was a regular customer at record outlets such as Prince Buster’s, Caribbean Distributing Company and Beverley’s among others. “Every Saturday I would go to these record shops and collect vinyl,” Black said. ’Easy Snappin’ and ’ Muriel’ were  among the first songs he bought. He invested heavily in records by the top three producers of the time, Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd, Arthur ‘Duke’ Reid and Sonia Pottinger. He initially had no intention of playing publicly, sharing his collection only with friends in the home setting and voicing introductory tapes for the dance hall. This however started to change in the early 1990’s when Black got involved in a collector’s series which ran from Woodbury Inn on East road, off Waltham Park Road, and then into the Appleton Play Spin-off Competition, placing in the top three. Between 1985 and 1990, Black played extensively at a number of parties, clubs and venues. He later spun the disc at KC ‘Purple Masters In Concert.’

Roy Black entered the big times when he landed the job At KLAS FM in 1998. Since then, he has hosted the program ‘Saturday Night Alternative’. It presently spans some 5-1/2 hours commencing 6.30pm to midnight. The program is divided into six (6) segments and features music of the 50s through to the 1980’s. The opening segment runs from 6.30pm - 7.30 pm and features pop music; the second segment is dedicated to Jamaican and Caribbean music and this runs from7.30 pm -9:00 pm; the third is the Spot Light and this  profiles an artiste and runs from 9pm-10pm; the fourth segment features ballads and soul from 10:00 pm-10:45pm; the fifth is a 45-minute slot of blues and rock and roll music; the final segment runs from 11.30pm to midnight and features sentimental music. To assist with his program Black carries out extensive interview and research of the lives of artistes such as Ken Boothe, Marcia Griffiths, Brent Dowe and Leroy Sibbles. To hone his skills, in 1999 Roy Black attended the Creative Production and Training Centre(CPTC) where he obtained a certificate in voice and speech for radio, television and platform.

By December 2011 Roy Black landed a weekly column entitled ‘The Music Diaries’ in the prestigious Entertainment Section of the Sunday Gleaner. Over the one- year period, he has featured artistes covering a wide genre from mento, calypso, ska, rock steady, reggae, to rhythm & blues as well as soul music. Here, he has featured such personalities as Byron Lee, Lord Creator, Jackie Opel, the Techniques, The Jolly Boys, Shirley and Lee, Lyn Tait and the Skatalites. His column is now considered a collector’s item and is used as a reference by students doing research and examination

A father of two daughters, Roy Black threw away the comb and embraced the Rastafarian faith in the latter part of the 1990’s. His hobbies include reading as well as going to plays and the movies.

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