Jackie Mittoo

Born Donat Roy Mittoo on march 3rd, 1948 in the Parish of St. Ann, Jamaica, Jackie Mittoo was a phenemonal keyboardist, singer, songwriter, composer and arranger.  At the very young age of three, Jackie began to learn his piano skills with the help of his grandmother.  By the time he was a teenager, the young Mittoo was well on the way to becoming a musical prodigy.  He played with various bands throughout his teens and became a sensation across the island.  At this time he met the founder of the legendary Studio One Records, Coxsone Dodd.  They worked together on a few projects until eventually Mr. Dodd named Jackie the official musical director at Studio One Records laboratory in 1963.  He began arranging, producing, composing and helping to develop new songs throughout the sixties and onwards for the iconic Jamaican music brand, Studio One.  He received payment by completing “five new rhythms per week”.  It is estimated that over the years “he produced and arranged literally thousands of compositions”.  By 1964, Jackie collaborated with an extremely talented group of musicians to form The Skatalites.  They are the world famous ska band that only lasted 14 months from June 1964 to August 1965.  Although this very gifted band did not stay together for very long, it is said that, “their influence on music worldwide remains incalculable”.  After leaving the Skatalites, Jackie began to work  on solo projects such as “Fatty Fatty”, “Ram Jam” and other works including “Evening Time”, “In London”, “Keep on Dancing” and “Now”.  Mr. Mittoo remained loyal to Coxsone Dodd and Studio One and continued working on many projects together.  Jackie was behind such notable productions like “Darker shade of Black”, which is the instrumental for Frankie Paul’s “Pass da tu Shung Peng”, Freddie McGregor’s “Bobby Babylon” and Alton Ellis’s “I’m still in love with you”, which is a rocksteady classic.  He also produced “Baby Why” by  The Cables and Marcia Griffiths first hit, “Feel like jumping”.  He also worked on one of The Wailers first hit “Duppy conquerer”.  Jackie Mittoo emigrated to Canada in 1968 at twenty years old.  He also travelled to England in the mid seventies to work with another famous Jamaican producer Bunny Lee.  They collaborated on a series of Albums.  The Skatalites reunited in 1989 but health problems forced Jackie to withdraw from the group.  He died on December 16th, 1990 in Toronto, Canada from cancer complications.  He was only 42 years old.  Jackie Mittoo is said to be “among the true legends of reggae” and “an extraordinarily prolific songwriter”.


Helen Meles

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