“Dennis Bovell is probably UK reggae’s most innovative and celebrated son”
(Lloyd Bradley, writing in “Bass Culture” in 2000)
He is a master craftsman musician, composer, producer, arranger and mix-engineer supreme who has been making music for over 40 years. A big character with a big smile and sense of humour, Dennis has toured the world a number of times, is multi-lingual and plays a host of instruments, not least of which is the mixing desk. Long recognised for his work as a pioneering dub artist and producer recording under the name Blackbeard, he has also produced and worked with artists from all over the world including Max Romeo, Viola Wills, The Slits, Steel Pulse, Fela Kuti, Orange Juice, Alpha Blondy, Sharon Shannon, Lee Scratch Perry, Jean Binta Breeze, Bobby Kray, Japanese reggae stars The Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Madness and even Bananarama.
Dennis formed his first band at 16, released his first record at 17 and started his first record label a year later. His Sufferah Hi-Fi was one of the earliest British sound systems and his success as a DJ helped him making his own music, to stay close to his audience and contemporaries. He released a string of singles and albums and eventually became the driving force behind Lovers Rock, the sweeter side of young reggae that he helped create, culminating with the internationally successful “Silly Games” single, sung by Janet Kay and written, played, produced and recorded by Dennis. He had formed Matumbi in 1970, one of first British reggae bands to break through to the mainstream and eventually play all over the world. Starting first at Trojan they released four albums with EMI, had several Top 40 singles and a Top 30 hit with “Point Of View”.
During the Eighties Dennis made a number of solo albums while leading and recording his Dub Band . He diversified into film, scoring Franco Rosso’s acclaimed “Babylon”, writing television music for “Slave Nation”, “Rock School” and “The Bandung File” while mixing records for Marvin Gaye, The Boomtown Rats, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Dexy’s Midnight Runners among many others. He formed separate partnerships with his great friends Linton Kwesi Johnson, with whom he has made a series of albums and toured the globe, and Edwyn Collins, who he has played alongside for many years.
Over many years Dennis has maintained relationships with Island, London and EMI Records and has made a number of innovative and memorable albums, both vocal and in dub while his songs have been recorded by UB40, Yazz and most recently, Melanie Fiona. He continues to perform both as a solo artist and with The Dub Band and currently is recording his first solo album for many years alongside more production work in Italy, Argentina, Japan and his beloved London.