Words by Rich Nice
A platinum producer, director and A&R executive, Rich Nice has been making big things happen behind the scenes in hip-hop for over 15 years. He was also the first rapper ever signed to Motown Records. These days you can hear him on Sirius XM’s Shade 45 during his segment, “The A&R Room,” on Sway in the Morning. Here, the St. Thomas native fondly recalls a musical juggernaut that took the Virgin Islands by storm.
The Virgin Islands have a long history of providing beauty and flavor to the world. With beaches that are ranked among the most beautiful in the world, the USVI— St. John, St. Croix, Water Island and St. Thomas—are often dubbed “The American Paradise.” And whether it be culture, music or sports, these proud Anglophone Caribbean people are vibrant and have produced some amazing individuals.
So with the start of St. Thomas Carnival upon us, it’s only right on this Throwback Thursday to send a salute to the region and some of the architects of the VI soundtrack.
Starting from the humble beginnings of scratch bands and fungi music, the sound of the Virgin Islands has been constantly evolving. One of the precious gems of the territory’s musical fingerprint is a group called Eddie & The Movements. A brass strong band, E&TM would win the Road March at St. Thomas Carnival during seven of its first nine years in competition, beginning with “Backbone” in 1981. Other Road March winners from Eddie & The Movements were “Tramping Style” (1984), “Pepper” (1985), “Lamboushay” (1986), “Legal” (1987), “Kool Um Down” (1988) and 1989’s “We Run Things.”
And it was through E&TM that Jam Band, easily one of the most pivotal bands of the VI’s history, was born. There are conflicting stories told about how the change came about, however, no matter the reason, the history books are happy E&TM morphed into Jam Band. Instantly taking charge, Jam Band would win a long string of Road Marches back to back with Nicholas Friday, one of several vocalists from Eddie and The Movements, as its front man and main voice. Nick took on the name “Daddy Friday“ and gained a new celebrity status that some say is equivalent to that of the first Virgin Island Calypso star, Lloyd Prince.
As Jam Band, the group would win an amazing 21 Road Marches, not an easy accomplishment. This unprecedented goal earns the Jam Band a prime spot as one of the Virgin Islands’ greatest Road March Champions.
The Connection: Roy and Ray Chesterfield, the drummer and percussionist, respectively, of Eddie & the Movements, are my uncles. Roy Chesterfield was also a member of Jam Band.
See more USVI culture in LargeUp’s Virgin Islands Nice series.