Jerry Dammers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Jerry Dammers
Birth name Jeremy David Hounsell Dammers
Born (1955-05-22) 22 May 1955 (age 59)
Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu, India
Origin Coventry, England
Genres Ska
Occupation(s) Keyboardist, songwriter, disc jockey
Instruments Keyboards
Years active 1977–present
Labels 2 Tone Records (as per The Specials)
Associated acts The Specials The Special AKA The Spatial AKA Orchestra

Jeremy David Hounsell "Jerry" Dammers,[1] (born 22 May 1955) is a British musician who is a founder, keyboard player and primary songwriter of the Coventry, England based ska revival band The Specials, The Special A.K.A. and The Spatial AKA Orchestra.

Biography[edit]

Dammers was born in Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu, South India, the son of Horace Dammers, Dean of Bristol Cathedral (1973–1987). Jerry Dammers attended King Henry VIII School, Coventry.

Dammers was a Mod in the 1960s, then became a hippie, before becoming a skinhead.[2] He had been a member of The Cissy Stone Soul Band, and studied art at Coventry's Lanchester Polytechnic (now Coventry University), where he met Horace Panter.[2]

He founded 2 Tone Records,[3] which helped develop the 1970s/1980s ska revival. He became an anti-Apartheid campaigner, helping to create Artists Against Apartheid in the U.S., and writing the song "Free Nelson Mandela" about the jailed African National Congress leader in South Africa. In 1985, in the wake of the Band Aid single, he organized the recording and release of the "Starvation" single, a version of The Pioneers' 1969 song, in aid of famine relief in Africa, featuring members of The Special AKA, UB40, Madness, The Pioneers, and The Beat.[4] In early 1986, he took part in the Red Wedge tour that also featured The Style Council, The Communards, Junior Giscombe, Lorna Gee and other special guests. He also introduced Simple Minds to producer Tony Hollingsworth and they became the first major act to agree to perform at Hollingsworth's Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert, which was broadcast worldwide from London's Wembley Stadium, on 11 June 1988. That same year, he briefly played with the re-formed Madness on their single "I Pronounce You" and its attendant album, The Madness.

In October 2000 Dammers received Q Magazine's Q Merit Award at London's Park Lane Hotel.[5]

Dammers still regularly DJs in English nightclubs, as well as performing with his band, The Spatial AKA Orchestra, playing his own compositions and tributes to Sun Ra and other experimental jazz artists. The band features established jazz musicians Zoe Rahman, Larry Stabbins and Denys Baptiste. They perform in elaborate Ancient Egyptian and outer space-themed costumes, and share the stage with bizarre props such as model alien heads and mummy Sarcophagi. Rico Rodriguez has also featured in a number of shows.

In November 2006, he celebrated being awarded an honorary degree from Coventry University by DJing at the launch party of the Coventry branch of the Love Music Hate Racism organisation. In the same month, he attended a private viewing of a Harry Pye curated art exhibition in east London that featured paintings of bands and singers that had once been championed by the late BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel. Dammers read out a four-page poem, in which he thanked Peel for helping his own band, and for supporting black musicians.

Carl Barât of The Libertines included a Dammers composition, "Too Much Too Young", on his personal compilation album Under The Influence. Pete Doherty, former member of The Libertines, namechecked "What I Like Most About You is Your Girlfriend" on Down in Albion, the first Babyshambles album. The song "Merry Go Round" contains the lyrics "He says, 'What I like most about you, Pete/Is your girlfriend and your shoes.'" Those who have recorded a song written by Dammers include Tricky ("Ghost Town"), The Prodigy ("Ghost Town") and Elvis Costello ("What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend").

Dammers has produced singles for Robert Wyatt, The Untouchables, UB40 and Junior Delgado. He contributed "Riot City" to the soundtrack of the Julien Temple film, Absolute Beginners, and "Brightlights" to the compilation album Jamming: A New Optimism.

In April 2014, Dammers received the South African Companions of OR Tambo order in silver award (a national honour) for his role in the anti-apartheid movement. "It feels fantastic. It is a real honour to be considered for this, especially when I compare what little I did to the work of those who sacrificed their lives, I am humbled," he said.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers: Jeremy David Hounsell Dammers". ASCAP. 20 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  2. ^ a b Reynolds, Simon:"Rip It Up and Start Again", 2005, Faber & Faber, ISBN 978-0-571-21570-6
  3. ^ Reynolds, Simon (February 2006). "Chapter 14: Ghost Dance: 2-Tone and the ska resurrection". Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984 (paperback) (US ed.). Penguin Books. ISBN 1-4295-2667-X. But Dammers held out for a label deal, for 2-Tone as an entity, and got one from Chrysalis. The alliance between the major label and the Coventry independent required Chrysalis to fund the recording of fifteen 2-Tone singles a year and release at least ten. 
  4. ^ Thrills, Adrian (1985) "International Rescue", NME, 2 February 1985, p. 22-23, 32
  5. ^ Lister, David (2000-11-01). "Tune in, mouth off, walk out. Q Awards show bad side of industry - News - Music". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-07-28. 
  6. ^ Khulekani Magubane (2014-04-28). "Zuma honours ‘heroes’ at National Orders ceremony | National". BDlive. Retrieved 2014-07-28. 

External links[edit]