Toppa Top 10: Reggae’s Greatest Bassists

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3. Errol “Flabba” Holt

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Errol “Flabba” Holt may have never been particularly flabby, his bass playing has always been fat. With his round, low, rock-solid sound (like Robbie Shakespeare, he’s often played hollow-body Hohner bass guitars in addition to solid-body basses), Holt helped propel the rub-a-dub movement to the forefront of roots reggae with the Roots Radics.

He began playing as a session bassist for artists like Don Carlos and Prince Far I in the early 1970s, releasing his own soundsystem hits “A You Lick Me First” and “Danger Zone” (the latter later re-released in a brilliant Sly & Robbie production.) The Radics formed in 1978, quickly becoming one of Jamaica’s most prolific studio and stage bands as they backed artists like Gregory Isaacs, Bunny Wailer, Freddie McGregor and Israel Vibration. Their forward-thinking work with Barrington Levy, including early hits like “Collie Weed” set the stage for the emergence of dancehall. Holt also produced as well, with credits on “Night Nurse” by Gregory Isaacs and a number of Beres Hammond tracks.

Holt continues to tour and record on his own, and with the Radics—check out an early performance with Gregory Isaacs below, followed by a recent interview.