b. Orville Richard Burrell, 22 October 1968, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies.
Shaggy is, effectively, the man who put New York reggae on the map, thanks to his
worldwide hit, 'Oh Carolina'.
The same record helped to start the ragga boom of 1993, an explosion that also
carried artists such as Shabba Ranks, Chaka Demus And Pliers and Snow into the
international pop charts. An amusing vocal stylist who can be rude without ever descending
into a leer, Shaggy learned his trade on Brooklyn's Gibraltar Musik sound system.
He had moved to America with his parents at the age of 18, and at 19 joined the
Marines, based at Lejeune, North Carolina. Following active service in the Gulf War,
Shaggy began to record singles for a variety of labels, among them 'Man A Me Yard'/'Bullet
Proof Baddie' for Don One, and 'Big Hood'/'Duppy Or Uglyman' for Spiderman.
A chance meeting with Sting, a radio DJ at KISS-FM/WNNK, led to Shaggy's first
New York reggae chart number 1, 'Mampie', a version of the 'Drum Song' rhythm, produced by
Sting for New York reggae ruler Phillip Smart's Tan-Yah label. His next single, 'Big Up',
released on Sting International and recorded in tandem with singer Rayvon, also hit number
1, as did 'Oh Carolina'.
A mighty cover version of the Folkes Brothers classic, replete with samples of
the original, the record became a huge hit on import charts wherever reggae was sold. At
the time, Shaggy was still in the Marines, and was forced to make an 18-hour round trip to
Brooklyn for dates and studio sessions.
At the end of 1992, Greensleeves Records picked up 'Oh Carolina' for UK release,
and by spring 1993 Shaggy had achieved a pop chart hit all over Europe, with the song
reaching number 1 in the UK and several other countries.
|His next single, the slow, raucous 'Soon Be Done'
failed, however, to capitalize on his success. Apparently unruffled by this, a liaison
with Maxi Priest for 'One More Chance' led to a Virgin Records contract, and the Pure
A third single from the LP, 'Nice And Lovely', again
failed to repeat the sales of 'Oh Carolina' (which, by that time, had made it onto the
soundtrack of the Sharon Stone movie, Sliver ), but it was a fine, light-hearted record in
its own right. The album also contained a version of his earlier 'Duppy Or Uglyman' cut,
restyled as 'Fraid To Ask'. He returned to the pop charts in 1995 with the UK number 5
single 'In The Summertime' (featuring Rayvon) and 'Boombastic', which topped the UK and US
singles charts following frequent exposure (in England) as the soundtrack to an animated
television advertisement for Levi's jeans.
An album followed, produced by the New York team of Robert Livingstone and Shaun
'Sting' Pizzonia for Big Yard Productions, along with Jamaican Tony Kelly as guest
producer on two tracks, 'Something Different' and 'How Much More'.
Another song, 'Why You Treat Me So Bad' (UK number 11), was conducted in
alliance with rapper Grand Puba. Boombastic quickly went gold in America where Shaggy
launched an extensive tour. He won a Grammy in February 1996 for Best Reggae Album (
Midnite Lover was a lesser album, although the featured duet with Marsha, 'Piece
Of My Heart', became another crossover hit. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis helped out on Hot
Shot, a quality collection of smooth pop-orientated dancehall music featuring the US
number 2 hit 'It Wasn't Me'.