One of the remarkable things about many of Jamaica’s musical groups is their longevity. Through thick and thin, successes and setbacks, they have been able to survive and stay together. One such group is the Clarendonians who will be one of the featured acts on the big Wray and Nephew sponsored Startime package which will be on show on Saturday, July 13 at the new Mas Camp.
Ernest Wilson and Peter Austin were still teenagers when they formed the Clarendonians, in 1965. Friends since childhood, they began singing in local talent contests and their first break came when they were heard by influential record producer Coxsone Dodd who was so impressed, he signed them to his Studio One label; and the Clarendonians became one of the most successful ska and early reggae groups in Jamaica.
They climbed into the charts with such powerhouse hits as “A Day Will Come” “You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down”, “Sho Be Do”, “Darling Forever”, “Muy Bien” “ You Won’t See Me “and their biggest smash hit, “You Can’t Be Happy”. They helped to usher in the “rude boy” era of ska with such tunes as “Rude Boy Gone A Jail” and “Rudie Bam Bam”.
Following the Clarendonians’s disbanding, Wilson continued to perform as a soloist whose dulcet stylings made him a crowd favourite and also gave him hits like “Storybook Children”, “Undying Love”, “Money Worries”, “If I were A Carpenter”, “Let True Love Be Your Right On Man” and “Experienced Lover” which are all still in-demand at vintage sessions. For a brief period, he also worked with the Techniques, using the pseudonym King Shark.
There have been several subsequent reunions and with Austin now back home after an extended sojourn overseas, the Clarendonians are ready to thrill the Startime fans July 13, as they have done on several occasions in the past.