Friday, January 29, 2010


Groundbreaking rocksteady guitarist Lynn Taitt -- who played on influential records by the Skatalites, Derrick Morgan and Desmond Dekker passed away last Wednesday, according to the Jamaica Gleaner. Taitt, who was 75 and a Montreal resident, succumbed to cancer.

Born Nerlyn Taitt in San Fernando, Trinidad, he picked up guitar in the early 1960s -- when he was well into his 20s -- first heading to Jamaica in August 1963 to perform at a gig arranged by the legendary Byron Lee and designed to celebrate the country's first year of Independence from England. Taitt stayed in Jamaica, where he played with the aforementioned ska pioneers, plus the Sheiks, Comets and the Cavaliers.

By 1966, Taitt's band, the Jets, helped launch the rocksteady movement by crafting the bassline for 'Take It Easy' by Hopeton Lewis, which many cite as genre's first song. Establishing the Federal Studios sound, Taitt went on to help craft Alton Ellis' staple 'Girl I've Got a Date.'

Taitt worked often with Leslie Kong -- the Chinese-Jamaican producer who first recorded Bob Marley -- lending his memorable riffs to Dekker's '007 (Shantytown).' In 1968, Taitt moved to Canada, living in Toronto in the 1970s before ultimately settling in Montreal. There he wrote for local reggae, jazz and calypso groups and played and recorded with the Kingpins, a local ska outfit.

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