|Tags:||ska reggae rocksteady skinhead reggae jamaica|
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Oliver Stephens, 22 April 1927, Cuba, d. 17 July 2005, Leicester, England. Of mixed Cuban and Jamaican descent, Laurel, with his five brothers (including the veteran guitarist Bobby Aitken) and sisters, settled in his fathers homeland, Jamaica, in 1938. In the 40s he earned a living singing calypso for the Jamaican Tourist Board, as visitors alighted at Kingston Harbour. By the age of 15 Aitken, like many of the early Jamaican R&B and ska singers, including Owen Gray and Jackie Edwards, entered Vere Johns Opportunity Hour, an amateur talent contest held on Friday nights at Kingstons Ambassador Theatre. He won the show for several weeks running, and his success there led to his establishment as one of the islands most popular club entertainers. His first sessions were for Stanley Mottas Caribbean Recording Company, where he recorded some calypso songs, the spiritual Roll Jordan Roll and Boogie Rock. The...