The world lost a musical legend yesterday. The mighty Prince Buster has passed on at the age of 78. He died in a hospital in Miami after facing complications from a series of strokes. Born Cecil Bustamente Campbell, he got his break in the music business by being a pugilist. He worked as a bodyguard for Sir Coxsone Dodd of Studio One fame, and eventually made his way into the studio. Buster became a prolific artist and pioneer of ska music. He was the first Jamaican to ever have a top 20 hit in Britain, and the infectious ska beat that was exported there on the seminal Blue Beat label took hold and never let go. I had the privilege of seeing Prince Buster live in Toronto a number of years ago (he was probably in his early 70’s at the time), and it was an amazing concert. There is something special about seeing a living legend perform hit after hit from a back catalogue so extensive, you almost forget how many great songs he had.
One of my favorite Prince Buster songs is called “Enjoy Yourself”, which rather poignantly, is about not wasting your youth.
Prince Buster dominated the airwaves in Jamaica, but I don’t think this is one of his better known songs. It may be partly due to the fact that it is a cover song (with a Canadian connection no less). “Enjoy Yourself” was originally recorded by Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians in the 1950’s, and it’s a tune that I think has aged very well, much like Prince Buster himself did. While Buster did not release any new tracks recently, he still performed live periodically and he will be sorely missed. Rest in power Prince.