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"The Godfather of Dancehall" is the well-deserved moniker for Johnny Osbourne describing his contribution to reggae music as it evolved from the local Jamaican community to the international arena. A string of hits dating from the late sixties through the nineties defines Johnny's longevity and artistic ability.

Johnny Osbourne was born in 1947 and grew up in Kingston, Jamaica. He became interested in music while attending the Alpha Boys School, a school renowned for both strong discipline and excellent musical education. Past attendees who went on to musical greatness include Tommy McCook, Johnny "Dizzy" Moore, Lester Sterling, Don Drummond, Cedric "Im" Brooks, and Rico Rodriguez, just to name a few. Johnny sang in the school choir, the church choir, and played trumpet in the Alpha band. Later, as lead singer with the band the Wildcats which included Earl "Bagga" Walker on bass guitar, he recorded his first song, "All I Have Is Love." Johnny Osbourne began to hang around with singers Bunny Brown and Tinga Stewart, and with the Sensations and Techniques groups. At that time, the Sensations were Jackie Parris, Buster Riley, and Bobby Davis. With the Sensations, he sang lead on the recordings, "Warrior," "Come Back Darling," "See and Blind," and "Fish Mouth," for producer Winston Riley and Riley's new Techniques label. In 1969, these songs and others were compiled for the Come Back Darling LP, credited to Johnny Osbourne and the Sensations. Very shortly after finishing the tracks for his debut album, Johnny migrated to Canada. Musically, he was frustrated. Although he was singing in a band called Ishan People which included members of the In Crowd band, his name wasn't getting out there as he would have liked.

Johnny returned to Jamaica just as Clement Dodd's Studio One label was about to reassert itself and rejuvenate the music scene with a new sound with ties to the past. It would be known as the dancehall sound. Clement Dodd was always looking for fresh talent, and Johnny Osbourne, Sugar Minott, Freddie McGregor, Michigan & Smiley, and Willie Williams all made the cut and were able to record for the legendary producer who had recently upgraded his recording studio to 16 tracks. Johnny has recalled that Studio One was where he always wanted to be but didn't get the chance before 1979. Hit making Kingston studios were having great success with their versions of Studio One rhythms, so Clement Dodd fired back by remixing his own originals and providing them as rhythm tracks for a new breed of singer.

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The Truths and Rights LP was released in 1979. It was a collection of 10 new Johnny Osbourne songs, 9 of them over classic Studio One rhythms with musical overdubs. In 1980, with his innovative Studio One album under his belt, Johnny reunited with producer Lloyd "Prince Jammy" James, who had been his friend in Canada, to record the Fally Ranking album. The same year, Fally Lover, a Henry "Junjo" Lawes production, was released. With 3 current albums with the top producers, musicians, and engineers, Johnny had firmly established himself as a successful, in-demand dancehall singer. Throughout the rest of the decade, he recorded no less than 15 albums. His most enduring hit to date is "Buddy Bye" on which he rides King Jammy's production of Wayne Smith's "Sleng Teng" rhythm.

Although Johnny Osbourne recorded less during the 1990s, his output was well-received and he stayed current by working with dancehall's young producers. In 1992, Heartbeat reissued his Studio One debut, Truths and Rights. It was included in Reggae 100 Essential CDs: The Rough Guide. Johnny also spent time with Clement Dodd at Dodd's Brooklyn studio and record store, contributing the song "Run Up Your Mouth" to the 1996 album, Current Artists at Studio One. The song was recorded on a version of Delroy Wilson's 1972 hit, "Run Run." To this day, Johnny Osbourne continues to record for a variety of producers and perform live.

No doubt songs like Come Back Darling, Truth & Rights, Reasons, Jah Promise, Sing Jah Stylee, Water Pumping, Ice Cream Love, All I have Is Love, Warrior, Yo-Yo, Buda Bye, In your Your Eyes, Give A Little Love, Fally Lover, Love Is Universal Groovin, Sexy Thing, Little Sound Boy and many others are omni-present in the minds of reggae music lovers. His classic Warrior was sampled by reggae legends Bunny Wailer and Marcia Griffiths. British Reggae group, UB40 recorded Come Back Darling, which peaked at ..10 on the UK Charts in 1998. Johnny's songs have also been sampled by: Zero 7, Bim Sherman, Beastie Boys and many others. His five star rated album titled Truths And Rights on Clement "Coxsone" Dodd's Studio One Label, ranks among reggae's all time classic albums.

Blessed with an eclectic voice, and an unparalleled style, Johnny's music transcends genres and generations. Reggae historian Roger Steffens affirms, "A 25-year career that shows no signs of letting up, from soulful reggae to a massive dancehall catalog, Osbourne's warm voice filled with conviction and yearning, is one of the island's best". After more than 3 decades that sound is distinct and fresh as ever.
 

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