Interview with Bunny Simpson – The Mighty Diamonds

October 31, 2013


Harmony is key to the story of the Mighty Diamonds. The harmony between three friends: Donald “Tabby” Shaw, Fitzroy “Bunny” Simpson and Lloyd “Judge” Ferguson who formed a trio in 1969 and have continued with the same line-up to this day. The three part harmony of their voices that fused the Philadelphia soul of the Stylistics to Judge’s Rastafarian Garveyite words. And the harmony with which these voices sat comfortably in any era: atop the clattering rocksteady do overs of the Revolutionaries at Channel One; the relaxed rubadub of Gussie Clarke and then Clarke’s digital roots revival. Just as the Diamonds always stood firm their timeless music never seemed to go out of style. You can hear it in their VP box set compilation of hits and specials Pass the Knowledge; and you can see it in England and Scotland when their tour starts this week.

Angus Taylor spoke to Bunny Simpson in Jamaica about the group’s long history. Given that their career has been on-going since the late 60s his memory for specific facts and figures was understandably vague – “it was 30 years ago man” was a frequent response to being pushed for more information. Even so Bunny gave a clear sense of why, in the face of much disharmony in the music business, these three voices have remained as one.

How did you get your nicknames – Tabby, Judge and Bunny?
My nickname came from a baby – it was a pet name. My mother called me Bunny and Tabby’s mother called him Tabby. Judge was more of a nickname. He got it from his peers that he grew with – his colleagues. They said Judge was always serious! (laughs) His real name is Tony and I only ever heard his mother call him Tony.

Before the singing took off what kind of work were you three doing?
I was a welder. I used to weld grills, gates, doors, windows and all the necessary! Tabby was an apprentice welder. I had him under my wing. Judge was a policeman for about seven years. Actually he was a soldier first but after he left the solidering he had to do police work for survival. Then we got so popular that he never had the time.

How did Rasta come into your lives?
We were born and grew up in Trench Town and we saw all the bigger folks that went before we going that route so we had to look in that way so seek that which is the right route for we. We were well intact with Rasta – Marcus Garvey prophesised that you had to live good, that you had to live in more righteous living so we had to take up the right thing.

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