Cecil Bustamente Campbell, a.k.a. Prince Buster, is regarded as Jamaica’s first international superstar who produced and recorded a near-limitless stream of hits. As a Ska pioneer, Prince Buster became one of Jamaica’s most revered musicians.
Born in Kingston, on May 24th, 1938, Campbell earned the nicknames “Prince” for his pre-music career as a street boxer and “Buster” after Jamaican Labour party leader Sir Alexander Bustamante. He fronted numerous now-obscure groups before meeting and working under influential sound system pioneer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd. It was during that time that Campbell learned the machinations of Jamaica’s music industry, knowledge he used in becoming his own sound system operator and the owner of the highly rated record store Buster’s Record Shack. Campbell’s “Voice of the People” sound system quickly became one of Jamaica’s most respected, rivaling legends like Dodd and Duke Reid.
Few were as prolific or successful as Prince Buster (both as singer and producer) in the 1960s, with countless songs — 1963’s “Madness,” 1964’s “Al Capone,” 1967’s “Judge Dread” — becoming hits. Campbell released dozens of recordings annually, igniting the Ska movement, and eventually helping to spearhead Ska’s transition to the slower, more sinewy Rocksteady in the mid-1960s. He traveled extensively, becoming Jamaican music’s first international superstar, especially in the U.K., before Bob Marley. A group of British musicians named their band Madness after one of his hit songs.
Prince Buster passed away at age 78 and is survived by his wife and children. Much respect to one of Jamaica’s finest musical legends.