Max Romeo is a performer who managed to rise above the rudest of beginnings (recording-wise) to become one of the first Rastaman singers to record a series of deeply spiritual and socially conscious roots songs.
He was born Maxie Smith in St. Anns and first became famous for his raunchy early 1960s hit "Wet Dream." The song was a runaway hit in Great Britain until older people began listening to it closely and banned it. Though Romeo publicly claimed the song was about a leaky roof, the ban remained. This did not stop the song from making it to the British Top Ten thanks to its popularity amongst London's rebellious youth.
With that success under his belt, Romeo released a few more similarly themed "novelty" tunes such as "Wine Her Goosie" and "Pussy Watch Man" with only modest success. As the 1970s progressed, Romeo underwent a few profound spiritual changes. By the time he teamed up with production wizard Lee Perry in the mid-1970s, he had become a committed Rastaman and was singing visionary songs praising Jah and calling the sufferahs to social consciousness and culture. Songs from this period include "Let the Power Fall," "Pray for Me," "Every Man Ought to Know" and "Black Equality."
In 1972 Romeo began a liaison with producers Lee 'Scratch' Perry and Winston 'Niney' Holness, and from this point onwards, his records had a musical fire to match his apocalyptical vision and contrasting humour. Babylose Burning, Three Blind Mice and The Coming Of Jah all maintained his star status in Jamaica between 1972 and 1975. Revelation Time was one of the best albums of 1975, and 1976's War Ina Babylon was hailed by the rock press as an all-time classic reggae album.
Romeo returned to Jamaica in 1990, and in the spring of 1992, London producer Jah Shaka recorded Far I Captain Of My Ship on Jah Shaka Records, an unabashed, Jamaican recorded roots album, generally reckoned to be Romeo's best work for over 15 years.
Despite his huge following in Europe, Max Romeo has rarely performed in the United States. SNWMF25 is pleased to welcome Max Romeo back to our stage. He last appeared at SNWMF in 2015.