Reggae dance music is a genre of music that was introduced in the 1960s in Jamaica. Reggae music evolved from two other types of Jamaican music: ska and rock steady. This type of music and dance deals with a variety of subjects, including peace, love, religion, sexuality and other types of social and cultural issues.
The music later known as "reggae dance" began making its appearance in the 1960s in Jamaica. This type of music was primarily influenced by rhythm and blues music in New Orleans. The song "Long Shot," which was produced by Lee Perry and recorded by the Pioneers, is labeled as the first recorded reggae song, although at the time it was released, that type of music didn't actually have a name yet. Music producers played a major role in the history of reggae dance. Chris Blackwell founded Island Records in 1960, and then moved to England where he promoted reggae in the United Kingdom. Island Records joined with Trojan Records in 1968, and they continued to produce and promote reggae until 1974 when the label was bought out.
The most recognizable names in reggae dance music are Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston, who formed the group The Wailers in 1963. The Wailers began singing ska, and continued to evolve with the music into rock steady and ultimately, reggae. Bob Marley is the best-known name from The Wailers, which later was renamed Bob Marley and the Wailers. Marley is most popular for songs such as "No Woman, No Cry," "One Love," "I Shot the Sheriff," and many others.
Tempo and Sounds
Reggae can be identified by its tempo, which is slower than ska and rock steady, and based on rhythms that utilize offbeat accents, typically on the second and fourth beat. Reggae generally is played in 4/4 time, and is harmonically simple with sometimes as few as one or two chords in the whole song. Primarily, reggae utilizes drums and other types of percussion, bass and guitars, keyboards, horns, and vocals to create the island beat for which it is known.
The 1972 movie "The Harder They Come," about a young man trying to make it big as a reggae singer, had a strong reggae soundtrack. It starred reggae star and pioneer Jimmy Cliff and helped make reggae music known and respected worldwide.
The 1967 song "Red Red Wine" by Neil Diamond was the first reggae song sung by a popular musician. In 1968, the chart-topping song "Hold Me Tight" by Johnny Nash is considered to be the first song to bring reggae music into the mainstream. Slowly, reggae music began to be incorporated into rock music, and a prime example of this is "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" by The Beatles, which was released in 1968. Eric Clapton's cover of Bob Marley's song "I Shot the Sheriff" in 1974 was another major influence on bringing reggae into the mainstream.