Jah Shaka dead: Dub and reggae pioneer dies as music fans pay tribute to ‘true legend’
Dub and reggae pioneer Jah Shaka has died, according to social media posts by close friends and fellow musicians.
Fans said the singer, producer and label owner also known as Zulu Warrior was “the greatest soundman that ever lived”.
Shaka was at the helm of sound system culture in London, releasing some of the scene’s most seminal records and spearheading the influential Jah Shaka Sound System, which he began operating and touring in the 1970s.
His precise age and cause of death have not been disclosed. He continued to perform and tour his system up to his death.
Shaka moved to London from Jamaica as a child in the late 1950s as part of the Windrush generation. In a 2014 Red Bull Music Academy lecture, he spoke about the importance of music to his contemporaries as they tried to settle in a new, and often hostile, place.
“When people left Africa for the Caribbean, all they could bring with them was their music, their songs and their memories from home. So, over the years, this is all that people had to keep them together,” he said.
“In the 1950s and 1960s in London, there were house parties – 50, 60 people with only record players. It helped families know other families, which was important at that time because the people were so forced to be segregated.”
Around this time, Shaka began working with local speaker builder Freddie Cloudburst and was responsible for keeping his sound system in good condition. After years of maintenance work, he began playing records on the system and started to build his own.
By the late 1970s, Shaka’s sound system had developed a cult following; he starred as himself with his system in the 1980 film Babylon.
After the news broke on Wednesday, musicians shared tributes on social media.
Dubstep producer the Bug wrote: “So sad to read Jah Shaka has departed this planet … Rest in peace. A heroic figure who kept Dub alive, when few cared … I spent many all nighters being transfixed by his passion and selections.”
Bryan Gee, DJ and boss of V Recordings record label, said: “Didn’t wanna believe when I got the call Jah Shaka had passed away. From Phebees and Cubies over North London to Glengal in Peckham you gave me some of the sickest nights.
“A true legend and the people’s number one. Rest in paradise King.”
Fellow musician, DJ Jumpin Jack Frost, said: “The king of kings has left us. The greatest soundman that ever lived.”
Shaka is survived by his son Young Warrior, who runs his own sound system.