Bam Bam (The Maytals)

1 AUGUST 1966


1966 was the inaugural year of Jamaica's annual 'Independence Song Festival' songwriting competition. The first winner was 'Bam Bam' by the Maytals (later to become Toots and the Maytals). The local music scene was changing at the time, with the slower tempo of rocksteady (the precursor to reggae) becoming more popular, and themes that related to the tough 'rude boy' subculture of the streets, and 'Bam Bam' encompassed that shift ('If you trouble this man, it will bring a bam bam') and became a major local hit.

The group's career was temporarily interrupted later that year when lead singer Toots Hibbert was imprisoned for 18 months for possession of marijuana. They reconvened to enjoy a career that has spanned decades, taken in the rise of reggae, and brought them 31 Jamaican #1s and a Grammy. One of their early hits was 'Do the Reggay' (1968), the first song to first use the word 'reggae' and give the emerging genre its name.

'Bam Bam' is a splendid slice of genuine Jamaican music, decades before the proliferation of overproduced mainstream reggae.

Chaka Demus and Pliers had an international hit with a cover of 'Bam Bam' in 1993.


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