Top: Graeme Goodall being honored by Lisa Hanna in 2012—

GRAEME Goodall, the Australian who played a pivotal role as engineer and producer in the early years of Jamaican music, has died.

Goodall was a co-founder of Island Records, the company that had a significant role in exposing Jamaican music to an international audience during the 1960s and 1970s.

His wife, Fay, told the Sunday Observer that Goodall died of natural causes at home in Atlanta, Georgia on December 3. He was 82.

She said her husband of 52 years had been “ill for a few months”. Fay Goodall noted that he “was a good man. He loved Jamaica and Jamaican music”.

Born in Melbourne, Goodall first came to Jamaica in 1955 after working with Rediffusion in England. He helped set up Radio Jamaica’s broadcast system and worked there for several years before moving on to the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation as chief engineer.

He also developed a close friendship with Kingston businessman Ken Khouri, one of Jamaica’s early music producers. Goodall was engineer at Khouri’s first studio, a hastily assembled room at the latter’s Kingston Street furniture store.

They started out producing songs by Jamaican Calypsonians like Lord Flea. Eventually, Goodall worked on sessions for various producers including arch-rivals Clement Dodd and Duke Reid.

L-R Owen Gray, Goodall and Clement Dodd in the studio!

L-R Owen Gray, Goodall and Clement Dodd in the studio!

Along with Chris Blackwell, producer Leslie Kong (Goodall’s brother-in-law) and businessman Lee Gopthal, Goodall helped set up Island and Trojan Records in the United Kingdom.

Those companies fed the UK’s growing West Indian community with Jamaican ska and rocksteady music, which also found favor with white, working-class British youth.

Goodall moved to the UK in 1965, where he launched his Doctor Bird and Pyramid labels. Those imprints helped break several Jamaican artists, and songs, in that country.

Desmond Dekker

Desmond Dekker

His greatest success in the UK came with Desmond Dekker’s The Israelites in 1969. It was released on Pyramid.

Though he sat in select sessions at Byron Lee’s Dynamic Sounds in the early 1970s, Goodall left the music business during that decade. He worked as an engineer with Sony until his retirement in 1998.

In 2012, Goodall and The Caribs (a band that included Australians Dennis Sindrey, Peter Stoddart and Lowell Morris) was honoured at Tribute To The Greats, in Kingston, for their contribution to Jamaican music.

Graeme Goodall is survived by his wife, two children and four grandchildren.

— Howard Campbell


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