Published Oct 26, 2009Sonia Pottinger, arguably one of the most important women in reggae music history, has won an important legal battle that establishes her as the rightful owner of the coveted Treasure Isle catalogue.
As the Jamaica Observer reports, Jamaica's Supreme Court ruled on October 21 that Treasure Isle, established by legendary reggae producer Arthur "Duke" Reid during the 1950s, was sold to Pottinger shortly before Reid's death in 1974. Reid's son Anthony, along with other producers, have contested the sale for decades.
Originally a grocery and liquor store, Treasure Isle was used as the name for Reid's fledgling sound system, and by the early '60s became a record label and studio operating in the same building as the store. Second only to Coxsone Dodd's Studio One label, Treasure Isle released dozens of hits, particularly during the rocksteady era of 1966-68. The label also launched the recording careers of DJ U Roy, who greatly influenced the development of hip-hop, and King Tubby, whose work for Treasure Isle was the foundation of dub.
Pottinger was an independent producer who ran several labels in the '60s and '70s. Her most commercially successful era was the late '70s as she oversaw the rise of roots trio Culture to international stardom. She retired from music production in 1985 but continues to reissue music from her Gayfeet, SEP and High Note labels. She was recently awarded Jamaica's Order of Distinction.
Though remastered Treasure Isle material has long been available though such labels as American outfit Heartbeat, this legal victory should pave the way for even more reissues of the label's original albums. This is especially noteworthy given agreement Pottinger signed with the U.S.-based Independent Online Distribution Alliance last month, which should greatly broaden the catalogue's availability.