Toppa Top 10: Reggae’s Greatest Bassists

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 +1 +2 +3
June 11, 2014

5. Boris Gardiner


Boris Gardiner achieved his greatest fame as a crooner, even scoring a number one in the UK with “I Want To Wake Up With You” in the ’80s, but he’s been most prolific as a bass player. Gardiner was a go-to session musician in Jamaica throughout the late 1960s and 70s, playing for various bands including the Upsetters and the Now Generation, backing up Marcia Griffiths (“Feel Like Jumping“) Larry & Alvin (“Nanny Goat,”) and the Heptones at Studio One.

Gardiner began his music career as a vocalist: bass is something he picked upย while on tour with Carlos Malcolm’s ska band, filling in at the last-minuteโ€”even then, there were never enough bassists.ย A longtime associate of Lee “Scratch” Perry, the ever-experimental Gardiner dabbled in soul and funk with hisย Boris Gardner Happening band during the ’70s: his bass playing has always had a bouncy quality that works within multiple genres. Perhaps most notably, the title track from the film score for the 1973 film Every N***** Is A Star became a cult classic that’s been reinterpreted by everyone from Big Youth, to Super Cat. Listen to his first full solo album, 1970’s Reggae Happening: