Byron Lee & The Dragonnaires
b. 27 June 1935, Jamaica, West Indies. Lee and his manager, Ronnie Nasralla, first put together the Dragonaires in 1956 and worked as a support act for touring singers including Harry Belafonte, and their debut single ‘Dumplins’ in 1960 was the first release on the UK’s Blue Beat Records (although it originally came out on his own Dragons Breath label in Jamaica). The 14-piece Dragonaires featured an ever fluctuating line-up and are often cited as one of Jamaica’s first ska bands, although they were firmly an ‘establishment’ band and their success was largely due to Lee’s business and political connections. They toured extensively in the West Indies, North America and Canada and did much to popularize the ska sound. In 1969, Lee bought out the old WIRL set-up and established Dynamic Sounds as the best equipped and most popular studio in the Caribbean. As well as supporting home-grown talent, visiting stars such as the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Paul Simon recorded at Dynamic hoping for a piece of the reggae action. Lee still records occasionally but concentrates on the soca style these days.