Jamaican musician and producer Prince Buster, who helped pioneer ska music in the early 1960s, has died, The Jamaica Observer reports. He had reportedly been in poor health following a series of strokes in recent years. He was 78.
Born Cecil Bustamente Campbell in Kingston, Jamaica in 1938, Buster was first drawn into the Jamaican music world as the protege of Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, a businessman who operated one of Kingston’s most popular sound systems. After starting his own Voice Of The People sound system in the late ’50s, Buster began working as a record producer. When he asked a guitarist to emphasize the second and fourth beats in the bar during a record session, he created the syncopated beat that became the new sound of ska.
Buster went on to produce hundreds of records on various labels, in addition to releasing his own music. In the late ’70s, British ska revival groups like the Specials and Madness were greatly inspired by Buster, with the latter group renaming themselves after his song of the same name. In 2001, the Jamaican government awarded Buster an Order of Distinction for his contributions to music.