Horace Andy Slams Late Producer, Trojan Records For “40 Years Of Unpaid Royalties” In Award Acceptance Speech

Just before he belted out his hit song Skylarking, veteran Reggae singer Horace Andy took the opportunity to vent during the JaRIA Awards Ceremony in Kingston on Easter Monday, where he was presented with the Icon Award.

In his address, Andy reminisced on his early days in the music industry, before segueing into his thoughts on two of Jamaica’s foremost music producers, the late Edward ‘Bunny Striker’ Lee Sr — who he praised — and the late Clement “Sir Coxsone” Dodd and the British Reggae label Trojan Records, who he berated for 40 years of allegedly unpaid royalties.

“Mr Dodd, although dem seh him is not di best, him is di best becvaw him pay wi.  Fi real.  Bunny Lee a di wickedest, him an Trojan.  Him an trojan dem, dem dony pay wi fi 40 years. Forty years I don’t get nuttn, in dis business!” he exclaimed.

The singer, however, stressed over and over that he was grateful for the award, his first in decades.

“The first award was 1974, yuh si how long… mi nuh get no more enuh.  I don’t know why.  I really give thanks,” he told those in attendance at the event, which was held at the Jamaica Conference Centre.

“I remember the days when me and Dennis [Brown], Freddie McGregor… we used to drink sugar and water outta di butter pan and dem ting deh wi eat an guh sing.  Wi used to pray fi a almond drop offa di almond tree.  People wi give thanks, Selassie I know,” he added.

This is the second time in 12 months that Horace Andy has berated Bunny Lee and Trojan, while at the same time speaking glowingly of Sir Coxone.

In April last year, Andy, whose given name is Horace Hinds, told The Guardian that Dodd, who produced his biggest hit Skylarking in 1971, had handpicked him, given him his stage name and accepted him into Studio One, which he described as “my school, my college, my university” where he learnt “everything.”

The Guardian noted that when Bunny “Striker” Lee was mentioned, Horace had responded sharply and harshly.

“Bunny Lee not a producer but a financier. And he never pay me! Not a penny! And he sell all my recordings to Trojan Records in England and I never see a royalty statement after all these years, yet they issue my songs on CD and vinyl and in boxes,” he had claimed.

Co-founded in 1967 by Jamaican Lee Gopthal and Island Records’ Chris Blackwell, Trojan Records was responsible for marketing and distributing some of the biggest Reggae and ska songs in the United Kingdom. In addition to Skylarking, these included Dave Barker and Ansel Collins Double Barrel, Ken Boothe’s Everything I Own, Desmond Dekker and The Aces’ Israelites, Jimmy Cliff’s Wonderful World and Beautiful People, and Tony Tribe‘s Red Red Wine, among many others.

According to The Guardian, “Trojan Records, after being sold on several times since its founder Lee Gopthal went bankrupt in 1975, is now owned by BMG and thus part of the world’s fourth largest record label”.

The article said that when approached, a BMG representative had noted that “while it’s true that Bunny Lee struck an agreement for various recordings featuring Horace Andy with Trojan back in the 1970s, these have long expired and rights reverted to Bunny”.

According to BMG, “none of those recordings have appeared on Trojan during BMG’s tenure (though a best-of compilation was in fact released via BMG in 2016). The company points him towards the executors of Bunny Lee’s estate, but says it will also contact Andy “to clarify these issues,” the Guardian had noted.

Recorded in 1972, Skylarking was a rebuke of the youths loitering on the corner, hands outstretched begging for money.  The song was also covered by the late Garnet Silk in 1993.

The original version of Skylarking was recorded at Studio One in 1974, and, according to Andy in a Gleaner interview, was based on observation, where many of the youths were “looking for handouts,” a practice he said he used to participate in as a teenager, before going to Ethiopian World Federation meetings at 17 years old.   

Skylarking was not released as a single at the outset, but after being included on Dodd’s Jamaica Today album, it became a sound system favourite, which resulted in it being released as a single. 

Horace also went on to record other songs for Dodd such as Love of a Woman, Something on My Mind, Every Tongue Shall Tell and Just Say Who.

In the mid-1970s, Horace had teamed up with Bunny Lee where he re-recorded Skylarking and released a series of singles, including  Don’t Try To Use Me, You Are My Angel, Zion Gate, I’ve Got to Get Away, as well as a new version of Something on My Mind.

Sir Coxsone died in May 2004 of an apparent heart attack at the age of 74 at his home in Kingston, while Bunny Lee died in October 2020 after suffering “heart failure.”

He was 79 at the time of his passing.

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