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Joe Gibbs Passes Away at 65
Published March 21, 2008

Reggae legend Joe Gibbs passed away in Jamaica this past February. A topflight producer and a true pioneer of the bass-heavy dub style, he leaves behind a musical legacy that is still growing in scope and impact.

Legendary reggae producer Joe Gibbs passed away in February from a heart attack after being rushed to Kingston's University Hospital in Jamaica. He was 65 years old.


Gibbs was responsible for churning out hit after hit, to the widespread approval of Jamaican music enthusiasts. His songs struck a chord with music fans worldwide, inspiring and influencing everything from punk to the very latest British urban music. Born in Montego Bay in 1943, Gibbs left Jamaica to train as an engineer in the U.S., only to return to the island to start what would become a long and fruitful career as a music producer. He generated some of the biggest hits of the rocksteady era, establishing the genre with Roy Shirley's “Hold Them.” He also collaborated with a young Lee Perry and Winston Holness, otherwise known as Niney The Observer. On top of that, he churned out scores of popular music by artists including Errol Dunkley, Sir Lord Comic and the Pioneers.


His career skyrocketed when he scored a UK top 10 entry in 1970 with Nicky Thomas's “Love of The Common People,” which encouraged him to pursue a more hands-on working relationship with engineer Errol "ET" Thompson and house band The Professionals. Producing over 100 Jamaican Number Ones, Gibbs and Thompson would soon become known as "The Mighty Two". Throughout the mid-1970s, they continued to produce the biggest artists, culminating with Althea & Donna's 1977 pop crossover anthem "Uptown Top Ranking" (from the album of the same name) to Culture's Two Sevens Clash—a classic album that would come to be a key reference for bands including the Clash and the Slits.


Recently, the VP Records imprint 17 North Parade was inaugurated with the release of Gibbs' legendary African Dub series, which features crucial dubs produced by Gibbs, with Thompson at the mixing desk, in the late 1970s. Future reissues are planned to honor the man who will no doubt be remembered as one of Jamaica's most important and revolutionary record producers.