Interview: BB Seaton – The Gaylads Together Again [PART I]

July 18, 2012

Singer-songwriter Harris “BB” Seaton formed the harmony trio The Gaylads with Winston “Delano” Stewart and Maurice Roberts in the early 1960s. They had their first hit Lady With The Red Dress for Coxsone Dodd at Studio 1. There they became resident artists, musicians and backing vocalists – with BB finding success as a songwriter and audition holder for a who’s who of upcoming talent.

By 1967 quarrels over money and status lead them to break with Dodd and record for a series of imprints including Sonia Pottinger’s Tip Top, Leslie Kong’s Beverley’s ad Lee Perry’s Upsetters. By this time Delano had departed and the group continued with various replacements before Seaton left in 1972. BB then launched a solo career, moving to the United Kingdom in the mid 70s where he has made his base ever since.

In 2011, after several reunion attempts the Gaylads reformed with Seaton, Roberts and Randall Thaxton (sadly Delano suffered from a stroke in 1997 and was unable to join them). On 14th July 2012 they embark on a mini tour starting with Oland Roots in Sweden, carrying on to Garance Festival in France on July 25th and appearing on the final date of the 12 day Respect Jamaica extravaganza in London on August 6th. Angus Taylor spoke to BB, one of Jamaica’s most esteemed songwriters and industry veterans, as he was finishing some gardening at home, about the history of the group, his close if fraught relationships with Ken Boothe and Mr Dodd, and his own considerable contributions to Jamaican music. Part one of their chat is below…

You’ve been doing some gardening – is that something you enjoy?
Well my dad used to beat the hell out of me when I didn’t do it back in Vineyard Town, Jamaica! (laughs) He’s dead now – God rest his soul – but when I’m in the garden doing it I always think of him! In Jamaica we had yams growing, everything. In England you can’t grow much fruits but you have got strawberries. Mainly I do the hedge out the back and the front. I enjoy doing that.

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