Dennis ‘Scorcher’ Williams
In Reggae music, like other genres, artists and producers leave their mark on an industry and then quietly fade away. In the ‘early days in Jamaica – the late 60’s- names like JJ, Clancy Eccles, Coxsone, Duke Reid, Bunny Lee, Prince Buster, Lee Perry, Keith Hudson, Joe Gibson and Randy’s and High Note were the producers known by the public.
However, there was one name which kept appearing on some blank ‘killa’ 45s played in the dancehalls: SCORCHER. Every sound system owner spoke about Scorcher. A part of every major sound system’s routine, involved sending the DJ/selector to ‘check wid Scorcher and see what him have.’
Scorcher began delivering records to sound system owners at age 12. “I used to deliver records on my roller skates on Sunday mornings when the operators were just getting out of bed,” he recalls. But Scorcher was to move way beyond that.
By age 16, he had teamed up with George Wade and Osmond ‘Junior’ Holton to form ‘The Scorchers’ and did their first record – Ugly Man- for Lloyd the Matador. It was an instant hit with the Jamaican public. It skyrocketed to number one on both Jamaican radio charts, selling some 70,000 copies! And it was then, ‘Lloyd said to me boy you are Scorcher’. The name stuck ever since.
Other records charting on the Matador label, included ‘Hold on Tight Mary Ann,’ in 1968 which dethroned the then number one single in Jamaica from the Ethiopians, ‘Everything Crash’’; ‘Tighten Up Yourself’ and ‘What a Condition,’ a song along the lines of ‘Everything Crash.’ Scorcher had proven himself as a producer and began to attract the attention of the biggest names in the business, both artists and studio owners alike.
As a producer, Scorcher worked with the then Federal Records. Duke Reid, among the biggest names at the time, but it was at Studio One that Scorcher really came into his own, producing notable hit of that period, from artists like the Gaylads, Larry Marshall, Bop and the Belltones and a host of still unnamed ‘scorchers’ on blank labels. These were the favorites of the sound systems; the one in a million hits that never made it to radio.
Today Scorcher is still producing. He migrated to California in 1969 and toured Europe, the US-Pacific region and North America for a while performing at nightclubs and promoting concerts. In 1970, he released the first reggae LP, conceived, recorded and produced in California, “What a Bam Bam.”
In 2013 Scorcher comes back full circle to his Skinhead Reggae roots teaming up with Jandisc Records producer J Bonner and Jandisc house band ‘the Black Emeralds.’ His single titled ‘Record Breaker’ is due out May 2013 and highlights his ‘talkover’ talents as a deejay proving once again that there’s simply nothing Scorcher can’t conquer.
Source: Portions of this article were taken from Rhythm Vibes Magazine at the permission of Dennis Williams.