Today on Hidden Gems we are going to talk about a beloved Jamaican harmony group that came out during the mid-’60s, and they are The Ethiopians.
The Ethiopians were founded in 1966 with the trio of Leonard Dillon, Stephen Taylor, and Aston Morris. Dillon, who at the time was going under the name Jack Sparrow had released two singles “Ice Water” and “Suffering On The Land.” While this time Dillon found Taylor and Morris who at the time were singing on the street corner and like what he heard and invited them to sing back up for him. Soon after that they decided to become a group and The Ethiopians were born, with Taylor and Morris doing the music and background singing and Dillon providing the Rastafarian lyrics made The Ethiopians a colossal hit.
The group started as a ska and rock steady group due to that was the music that was big at the time but also that music style was coming to an end in Jamaica. With one door close, another door open and that door was Roots Reggae. Roots Reggae is a sub-genre of reggae, in which they sing and talk about the everyday lives and the dive for both the Africans and African Diaspora communities all over the world.
From 1966 till 1974 was the golden years for the group, they had hit after hit with songs such as:
During this time, Morris left the group and sadly Taylor was killed while working at a gas station during the day, Dillon took a two-year hiatus after finding out what happened to Taylor. Dillon returns in 1977 with a new line up which had Bro Fatty, Bro Ewin, Bro T, Mellow, and Hytchi Dread and they came out with a new album which was called Slave Call. Throughout the years The Ethiopians released more albums such as Open The Gate Of Zion, The World Goes Ska, Sir J.J. & Friends, Skaville Princess. Sadly in 2011 Dillon passed away from cancer and with that The Ethiopians were no more.
This group was a trend setter and were way head of their time in terms of musicianship and their powerful lyrics about how life was and still is hard with moments of joy and relief. Now is a great time to give them a listen and see why they were so beloved in their home country of Jamaica and the UK.