Derrick “Duckie” Simpson
Derrick ‘Duckie’ Simpson, the Jamaican-born musician, the “Gong Gong Gullie”, is the founder and leader for reggae’s BLACK UHURU. Although going through numerous lead singers and musicians they have remained to be one of the most recognized and prolific reggae band for over 45 years. The Group’s line up is Duckie Simpson, Andrew Bees, and Elsa Green.
The roots of BLACK UHURU were formed in Kingston Jamaica’s Waterhouse district also known as “Firehouse” in the early 60′s. Though considered to be one of Jamaica’s toughest neighborhoods, is home to several other reggae singers and musicians. It was where Duckie Simpson grew up and learned to sing from boyhood friends Winston “Pipe” Matthews and Lloyd “Bread” McDonald of Wailing Souls and Bob Marley. He recorded four tracks with Wailing Souls before forming his own group.
The original Uhuru’s (Swahili for freedom) were Derrick “Duckie” Simpson, Ervin “Don Carlos” Spencer and Rudolph “Garth” Dennis. They only recorded a few singles “Folk Songs” “Time Is On Our Side” and “Slow Coach”.
BLACK UHURU released the albums Red, Chill Out, Sinsemila and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and began to tour the world bringing them to international audiences. It was during this period they started to gain rapid popularity. They opened live shows for the Rolling Stones and the Police. They began to work with other well accomplished producers and musicians. Keith Richards played guitar for the “Shine Eye Gal” track. Dennis Brown “The Crown Prince of Reggae” produced the tracks “Rent Man” and Wood For My Fire”. The track” Spongi Reggae” appeared on an episode of The Bill Cosby Show and “Party in Session” in the movie 1980′s North Shore. BLACK UHURU made reggae history when they won the first ever Grammy Award for reggae music in 1984 for the album Anthem.
BLACK UHURU performed in a Broadway Musical. The red carpeted event “Loving the Silent Tears: A New Musical” premiered October 27th, 2012, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles Ca. They were invited to represent reggae music and performed a new track “Make A Deal”. And in Las Vegas Nevada BLACK UHURU was recently honored for its contribution to the entertainment industry. August 31st is now officially “Black Uhuru Day” in the city of Las Vegas.
BLACK UHURU’s long success has allowed them to become ambassadors of reggae while earning several achievements in the music industry. With 14 full length albums, 7 instrumental dub albums, and 4 live albums they have the highest record sales in reggae music behind Bob Marley. The album Red was voted #23 for Rolling Stone’s list of “100 Greatest Albums of the 1980′s. Aside from winning the first reggae Grammy they have been nominated 5 more times. They are the only reggae group to have won the Diamond Awards of Excellence in 1994.
Despite all BLACK UHURU’s change of different singers and musicians the one thing that has always remained is Derrick “Duckie” Simpson. Much respect to a legendary figure for Reggae Music. The group is recently released a new album ‘As the World Turns’ which features Duckie on lead and was good for another Grammy Nomination in the category of ‘Best Album’. We are now experiencing their new album titled “New Day” featuring Dylan Dharma, King Hopeton and Andrew Bees. The album was released in May 2022 and is getting a lot of rotation. Stay tune for more to come from Black Uhuru.