Wednesday World Beat: Sly and Robbie
Words By Greg Molitor (ReMIND Photography)
As one of the most prolific and longest lasting musical production teams, drummer Lowell Dunbar and bassist Robert Shakespeare became living legends in the industry through their constant innovation of the reggae sound. The duo, better known as Sly and Robbie, started creating rhythms together in the mid 1970s and has been a driving force in both reggae production and performance since their collaborations began 35 years ago.
Sly and Robbie have not only crafted songs and performed with seemingly every prominent Jamaican artist, they have offered their services across the entire musical spectrum, including artists such as Paul McCartney, Ben Harper, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones, Grace Jones, Joan Armatrading, Gilberto Gil, Joe Cocker, Matisyahu, Serge Gainsbourg, Simply Red, Michael Franti, Sting, Khaled, Mey Vidal, Naniwaman, Tricky, Doug E. Fresh, Carlos Santana, No Doubt, and Sinéad O'Connor amongst many others.
Not to be pigeonholed as strictly producers, Sly and Robbie have always loved performing live on their respective instruments and continue to do so today. Sly and Robbie produced and played on multiple Black Uhuru albums including Anthem, the winner of the first Grammy award for a reggae album in 1985. Here’s a clip of Sly and Robbie with Black Uhuru at Reggae Sunsplash 1984. If you dig a bit deeper into the history of Sly and Robbie, you’ll be amazed by the reach of their influence within the soundscapes we hear every day.