One of the greatest unsung contributors to Caribbean music is pan and reggae pioneer, the late Mr Nearlin Taitt from San Fernando.
An outstanding pan player who also did some tuning, he was the winning soloist in the island wide ping pong (tenor pan ) competition of 1956.
He was also an outstanding guitarist and band leader in Trinidad, playing with the Dutchy Brothers Orchestra and fronting his own band, the Nerlin Taitt Orchestra.
Stranded in Jamaica after unsuccessfully touring with Lord Melody and Christo in the early 1960s, he remained there to become one of the founders of the new beat “rock steady” which evolved into reggae.
“Hold Me Tight ” featuring Johnny Nash (vocals) was a big hit for Lynn Taitt and the Jets
This link is to an article from tallawah.com, which celebrates the life and accomplishments of this Trinidadian who was an outstanding panist, and one of the most important contributors to the development of reggae music.
In the sixties the ska beat was popular worldwide.
Nearlin Taitt modified the ska beat by slowing it down, and adding the guitar styling that became rock steady.
According to Taitt in an interview, what he called the “bubbling “ sound of his guitar was his attempt to simulate the pan.
Regarding his guitar strumming, he said he used a down strum on the first beat when everyone else was using an up strum.
He also slowed the beat down and played the guitar along with the bass to emphasize the bass line, which wasn’t emphasized in ska which was more about the horns.
That was how the rock steady beat was created.
Rock steady was the precursor to reggae, but reggae had other influences.
Reggae was also influenced by Rastafarians and their Nyabinghi rhythms.
So , one cannot rightly claim that he “created” reggae , as some do.
And he never did.
If you listen to Nearlin Taitt’s music, it’s rock steady, not reggae.
There is a difference.
Lynn Taitt and the Jets – Solomon
Probably the biggest international ska hit from that era was Millie Small’s “My boy Lollipop“ arranged by another great Jamaican guitarist, Ernie Ranglin.
It was released in 1964 , before the music transitioned to rock steady, which happened about 1966.
Doesn’t the beat sound familiar?
I’ve created a playlist of the music of Lynn Taitt and the Jets for your enjoyment. so you can have an indepth appreciation of this great artist, and his contribution to the sound of reggae music.
Nerlin (Nearlin) “Lynn” Taitt died on January 20th, 2010. Here is a link to Mr Taitt’s obituary in the UK Guardian .