|Genres||Ska, rocksteady, reggae|
|Years active||1963–1973 (with several reunions since)|
|Labels||Studio One, Treasure Isle, Beverley's|
|Past members||Tony Brevett
The Melodians were a rocksteady band formed in the Greenwich Town area of Kingston, Jamaica in 1963, by Tony Brevett (born 1949, nephew of The Skatalites bassist, Lloyd Brevett), Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton. Renford Cogle assisted with writing and arranging material.
Trevor McNaughton had the idea of putting a group together and contacted the then fourteen year old Lloyd Brevett, who had already had success in local talent shows. Brevett recruited his friend Brent Dowe and the group was formed, with Brevett taking on lead vocal duties. Bramwell Brown and Ranford Cogle also had short stints in the group in its early days, and Cogle became one of the group's main songwriters.
The group recorded some material with Prince Buster before Ken Boothe introduced them to Coxsone Dodd's Studio One label where in 1966 they recorded "Lay It On" (one of the first records to reflect the shift from ska to rocksteady), "Meet Me", "I Should Have Made It Up" and "Let's Join Hands (Together)". Lead vocal duties were now shared between Brevett and Dowe. From 1967 to 1968 they had a number of hits on Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label, including "You Have Caught Me", "Expo 67", "I'll Get Along Without You", and "You Don't Need Me". After recording "Swing and Dine" for record producer Sonia Pottinger, they had further hits with "Little Nut Tree" before recording their biggest hit, "Rivers of Babylon" for Leslie Kong. This song became an anthem of the Rastafarian movement, and was featured on the soundtrack for the movie, The Harder They Come. In the early 1970s Brevett also recorded as a solo artist, having his greatest success with "Don't Get Weary". After Kong's death in 1971, they recorded for Lee Perry and Byron Lee's Dynamic Studios. In 1973, Brent Dowe left the group for a solo career. The group reformed briefly a few years later, and again in the early 1980s.
The Melodians regrouped again in the 1990s as part of the roots revival. In 1992 they recorded "Song of Love", which was issued on the Tappa Zukie label. Throughout the later 1990s they continued touring internationally, including appearing at the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival in California in 2002. In 2005 The Melodians embarked on a West Coast tour.
On the evening of 29 January 2006, after a rehearsal in preparation for a performance to take place the following weekend at the Jamaican Prime Minister’s residence, Brent Dowe suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 59. The remaining original members Tony Brevett and Trevor McNaughton continued touring in Europe and the U.S. backed by the Yellow Wall Dub Squad.
On 25 October 2013 Tony Brevett died from cancer after being admitted to hospital in Miami in August.
- Rivers of Babylon (Trojan, 1970)
- Sweet Sensation (Trojan, 1976)
- Sweet Sensation: The Original Reggae Hit Sound (Island, 1980)
- Irie Feelings (Ras, 1983)
- Premeditation (Skynote, 1986)
- Swing and Dine (Heartbeat, 1993)
- Rivers of Babylon (Trojan, 1997)
- Sweet Sensation: The Best of the Melodians (Trojan, 2003)
- "Tony Brevett's Unheralded Greatness", Jamaica Gleaner, 10 November 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013
- Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 242. CN 5585.
- Cooke, Mel (3 February 2006). "Brent Dowe: a melodic voice gone". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- Campbell, Howard (2013) "The Melodians' Tony Brevett dies", Jamaica Observer, 26 October 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013