In August, Jamaica lost another musical legend when the influential deejay and “toaster” Ranking Trevor died in a motorcycle accident in Kingston. While its has been over a month since the unfortunate news, we thought it was important to recognize the all too often overlooked career of this Jamaican performer who leaves a lengthy catalogue of classic Jamaican dancehall from the 70s and early 80s.
Ranking Trevor got his start when he was in his teens, DJing for various sound systems before cutting his first record, at age 15, for Channel One Studios. The cut was followed by a number of other singles –“”Cave Man Skank,” “Three Piece Chicken & Chips,” “Auntie Lulu” — that would land on Jamaica’s Top Ten and the British reggae charts, showcasing Ranking Trevor as a true disciple of legendary dancehall toaster U-Roy with a playful delivery that was immediately recognizable.
Despite never gaining much international notoriety, the slew of singles cut for Channel One would prove to be the beginning of a long relationship with the label, sky-rocketing Trevor to one of the top deejays in Jamaica for many years as one of the studio’s best “chatters.” When the studio introduced the first 45-RPM 12-inch in Jamaica, (a format that quickly became a standard with sung, deejayed and instrumental versions all on the same record), it was consequently this format that Trevor would record some of his best work including “Truly” with The Jays, “Trod On” and “War/Jah Give Us Life” with The Wailing Souls (later Greensleeves’ inaugural release for their 12-inch vinyl reissue series).
In 1978, Trevor signed with UK’s Frontline label (an imprint of Virgin Records) and recorded a series of LPs in the UK before returning to Jamaica in the early 90s. Ranking Trevor performed his first ever U.S. gig in 2008, over 20 years from the release of his first single.
We hope you take the time to listen to some selected cuts from Ranking Trevor below and check his 2008 interview with Richie Rich.