Ska legend Prince Buster – immortalised on Madness’s debut single The Prince – has died, aged 78.
Born Cecil Bustamente Campbell, he was a key figure in the in the early Jamaican reggae scene of the 1960s and was a big influence on the British ska revival of the late 70s.
As well as producing the Folkes Brothers’ classic Oh Carolina, Buster was one of the leading lights of the ska and rocksteady movements of the early 1960s, thanks to songs such as Al Capone, Wash Wash, God Son, Enjoy Yourself, 30 Pieces Of Silver and One Step Beyond.
Many of his songs were released on the Blue Beat label in the UK and Prince Buster became an iconic artist for both the Mods of the '60s and the skinheads of the early ‘70s. And the punk-infused ska revival of the late 1970s saw his music reach a whole new generation of fans.
The Specials’ first single Gangsters was essentially a rewrite of Buster’s Al Capone and they also covered his hit Too Hot on their self-titled debut album. Buster’s song Madness became the signature song of the eponymous British group, who also had a hit thier version of his One Step Behind, while The Beat tackled his Rough Rider on their debut record I Just Can’t Stop It.
As Madness sung on The Prince, “Buster, he sold the heat / With a rock-steady beat”. And that’s why Prince Buster will always be the King of Ska.