About Fred Locks
b. Stafford Elliot, c.1955, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. Locks began his sporadic recording career as a member of the Lyrics, who recorded tracks such as ‘A Get It’, ‘Girls Like Dirt’, and ‘Hear What The Old Man Say’ for Coxsone Dodd in the late 60s, ‘Give Praises’ for Randy’s, and the self-financed ‘Sing A Long’, both in 1971. The Lyrics disbanded shortly afterwards, and Locks, discouraged by the lack of financial reward endemic to the Jamaican music business, immersed himself in the Rasta faith, which was at the time gaining significant ground among Jamaica’s ghetto youth, and he retired to live a spartan existence on the beach at Harbour View. During this time, Locks allowed his dreads to grow to a formidable length - hence his nickname - and continued to write songs, one of which, a prophetic Garveyite vision of repatriation entitled ‘Black Star Liners’, he was persuaded to record by producer Hugh Boothe.
Released in 1975 on the Jahmikmusic label in Jamaica, and on Grounation in the UK, ‘Black Star Liners’ struck a resounding chord with the new generation of Rastafarian youth on both islands, propelling Locks to cult status in the process. Two years later Grounation offshoot Vulcan officially released the long-awaited Black Star Liners/True Rastaman, a classic example of 70s roots Rasta reggae, packed with fine songs including former singles ‘Last Days’ (retitled ‘Time To Change’) and ‘Wolf Wolf’, and raw, guileless vocals. Throughout this time Locks had also been a member of the vocal trio Creation Steppers with Eric Griffiths and Willy Stepper, who had been releasing singles on their Star Of The East label in Jamaica, achieving considerable local success with ‘Stormy Night’ - later covered at Channel One by the Rolands. A various artists album entitled Love & Harmony featured the title track (also a 12-inch in Jamaica) credited to Fred Locks, and ‘Kill Nebuchadnezzar’ by the Creation Steppers also emerged, in 1979. In 1980 Locks and the Creation Steppers went to the UK for several shows and linked up with the legendary sound system operator and record producer Lloyd Coxsone, who released a number of discs by both the group and Locks, including the classic ‘steppers’ ‘Homeward Bound’, ‘Love And Only Love’ and ‘Voice Of The Poor’. These and other tracks were eventually released on Love And Only Love. Locks moved to the USA in 1982, effectively halting his and the Steppers’ career. Settling in Philadelphia, he immersed himself in the local Twelve Tribes organization, after which he recorded only sporadically. He reappeared in 1998 on the Exterminator label with the excellent ‘conscious’ album, Never Give Up, featuring a rootsy production from Philip ‘Fatis’ Burrell. The album included an updated version of ‘Black Star Liners’.
- Kingston, Jamaica