Friday, January 21, 2011
Desmond Dekker in Lewisham
Ska legend Desmond Dekker was born in Jamaica in 1941, but settled in South East London in the late 1960s, when his song The Israelites became the first reggae track to top the UK charts (in 1969).
According to Mel Wright:
'Settling in Lewisham, he lived in Leyland Road, Lee area. People noticed his dapper appearance strolling around Lewisham Market, leather pants and big rings on his gloved hands. He also played at The Albany in Deptford... Desmond Dekker continued to live at Devonshire Road, Forest Hill during Eighties and Nineties, still cutting a stylish local figure, wearing trousers cut high up the leg before they became fashionable. He cared about people in the area. In 2001 a local fan, Leroy Auguste was seriously ill in Lewisham Hospital after suffering a brain hemorrhage he was unable to speak. After being approached by the family Desmond called in on him and sang The Israelites by his bedside. It helped him to recover. Finally, moving to Thornton Heath, Desmond died unexpectedly of a heart attack at his home on 25th May 2006'.
After a string of 1960s hits, interest in Dekker was reignited by the 2-Tone scene - in June 1980 he played with Madness and The Go Gos (who included Belinda Carlisle) at Lewisham Odeon. Later, in 1994, he played at Lewisham People's Day.
Here he is playing with some other SE London musicians (Jools Hollland and band) in 2004, not long before he died.