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Boris Gardiner

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b. 13 January 1946, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. Boris Gardiner, bass player, vocalist and musical director, has never been one of reggae’s most celebrated names, but he has remained a permanent fixture in the music and has three major UK chart hits to his credit. His bass-playing skills first emerged in the late 60s, and the bands he graced included Byron Lee’s Dragonaires, the Aggrovators, Crystalites and many more. His first brush with chart success was ‘Elizabethan Reggae’, recorded for Lee, which hit number 14 in January 1970. Gardiner toured the UK in support of his hit, which, at first, was incorrectly credited to its producer. His debut album, again produced by Lee, was released the same year. In its wake, Gardiner immersed himself in session work, regularly playing as part of the Now Generation band, and he later became a member of Lee Perry’s Upsetters, following Carlton and Aston ‘Familyman’ Barrett’s defection to the Wailers. His solid, incisive basslines were seldom prominent, yet always effective. In the 80s, as reggae was on the cusp of the digital era, an age likely to put paid to the careers of bass players, Gardiner’s mellow, soulful voice came to the fore on a MOR reggae ballad, ‘I Want To Wake Up With You’, which hit number 1 in the UK charts. Gardiner, who had been intermittently dogged by illness throughout the 80s, was finally receiving his due. His follow-up, ‘You’re Everything To Me’, went to number 11, and the seasonal ‘The Meaning Of Christmas’ also scraped the charts.

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13 January 1946 in Jamaica

Years Active:

'60s, '70s, '80s