Pato Banton Biography

Patrick Murray, Birmingham, England. Murray’s unusual stage name came from the Jamaican patois for ‘wise owl’ (Pato) and disc jockey slang for a ‘heavyweight DJ’ (Banton). He first came to the public’s attention in 1982 on the Beat’s Special Beat Service album, duelling with Ranking Roger on ‘Pato And Roger A Go Talk’, before releases on the Fashion Records and Don Christie labels. His debut single, ‘Hello Tosh’, was a novelty take on the Toshiba advertising campaign of 1985. His first long-playing effort saw him paired with the wizardry of the Mad Professor, a combination to which he would return four years later for the Recaptured set. On his solo debut Banton was backed by the Birmingham-based Studio 2 house band. Throughout, he coloured his Rasta toasting/dub with comic impersonations of the characters populating his songs. Since then, his records have leaned progressively towards pop and soul, blurring the dividing lines between Jamaican toasting and American rap. For 1990’s Wize Up!, which contained an unlikely alternative radio hit in his cover version of the Police’s ‘Spirits In The Material World’, Banton was joined by David Hinds of Steel Pulse.

In the 90s Banton began to attract a large US following, where he was signed to I.R.S. Records. However, his tremendous live popularity was not translated into record sales, and in 1994 I.R.S. persuaded him to release a pop cover version. Backed by Robin and Ali Campbell of UB40 and written by Eddy Grant, ‘Baby Come Back’ became a worldwide success, selling one and a half million copies in Europe and Australasia. In its wake, Sting invited Banton to chat over his ‘Cowboy Song’ single, which became another major chart success. Banton failed to match this commercial success with his subsequent releases, but he remains a strong live draw in Europe and America.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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