Published Jan 12, 2011The Heptones, one of reggae's most celebrated harmony groups, have announced a reunion of their core members for the first time in (purportedly) 35 years. The show will be at the Jamaican Canadian Centre in Toronto on Saturday (January 15).
In Jamaica, the Heptones were almost as beloved as Bob Marley's Wailers and Toots and the Maytals. The original lineup of Leroy Sibbles, Barry Llewellyn and Earl Morgan split in 1978, not long after they recorded their best-known international release Party Time, one of Lee "Scratch" Perry's greatest productions. That seems more like 33 years, but no matter -- this is a welcome reunion in Sibbles's second home.
In the show's press release, Sibbles says, "We're really looking forward to performing for the Toronto audience in the New Year. I lived in Toronto, and am very aware of the city's love and appreciation for good music, and for the Heptones. This is the best way to start the new year!"
From the mid-'60s to the mid-'70s, the group recorded some of rock steady and roots reggae's most enduring classics, such as "I Hold The Handle," "Party Time" and "Pretty Looks Isn't All." They were among the biggest stars at the legendary Studio One label, and Sibbles played bass and arranged many of the hits by his labelmates. Due to his singing, songwriting and instrumental expertise, Sibbles has been described as one of the most influential figures in reggae history.
Following the original lineup's split, the group continued with other members, but never had the same impact. By the mid-'70s, Sibbles was living in Toronto, where he produced several albums and was Canada's biggest reggae star during the '80s.
He told Exclaim!, "We went east and west, to Montreal and Vancouver. I became a household name. After a while, people would recognize me on the street. I did my bit to establish reggae there."
Also on the bill are Ammoye, Jimmy Reid, Tony Anthony, Uncle Jonny and more. More details are available here.