laurel aitkenTesting the great app discrovr last night, I came across the bio of laurel aitken in it, and his death date: 17 July 2005. So six years ago today, the “boss skinhead”, the “godfather of ska” died from a heart attack, at the age of 78. When I was writing an article about the first wave of ska (german) in 2009, the first ska-artist I mentioned was Laurel Aitken, mainly because his “little Sheila” was credited to be the first ska song ever recorded. If you look into the english wiki-page about him, and you check the singles he released, they range from 1958 to 1999. Taking into account his birth date in 1927, that is quite a career, even though his best uk single chart position was #60 with “Rudi got married”.

Aitken was one of the early ska-singers who never forgot his roots, where his loyal audience came from, and when other singers turned their back on skins in the 70s, he still sang songs like “Skinhead”, for he knew that a real skinhead can never be a racist. No wonder the last single he released 1999 (at the age of 72) was this song! He was there during all three waves of ska, from the beginning of ska in the 60s, through the 2tone era of the early 80s, and still touring europe-wide with ska-bands during the third wave of the 90s.

In the 90s I have seen the Skatalites, Doreen Shaffer and Judge Dread live, but Laurel Aitken is one of the great artists I missed (him, and Desmond Dekker), and i totally regret that!

Rest in peace, godfather of ska!