One of the leading lights of the roots reggae movement, Michael Rose (also known by the Ethiopian variant of Mykal Rose) has supplied distinctive vocals to Black Uhuru releases and solo projects for over for over forty years. He was born today in 1957.
Vocalist Michael Rose was born in Kingston, Jamaica. With a vocal style compared to fellow Kingstonian Dennis Brown, Rose came to the attention of Brown’s producer Winston “Niney” Holness after entering local talent contests.
Recording for his Observer label, Rose scored some success with tracks such as “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner,” “Love Between Us,” and “Freedom Over Me” while also recording lesser known sides for other studios including Lee Scratch Perry and Winston Campbell.
Fronting the band Happiness Unlimited for a time as they played on the tourist circuit of his home island, Michael was then fired and returned to the Waterhouse district of Kingston in 1977. In touch with drummer Sly Dunbar, Rose ended up joining local band Black Uhuru, then in the process of being reformed with a new lineup by founder member, Derrick “Duckie” Simpson.
Their Prince Jammy-produced debut album, “Love Crisis” was released later that year and included the popular track, “I Love King Selassie.” Steadily gaining in popularity, the early 1980s saw commercial success for the group, with their debut remixed and released as “Black Sounds of Freedom” and the “Showcase” album promote a new lineup that now included female vocalist Sandra “Puma” Jones.
The “Sinsemilla” album brought the band to the attention of Island Records and 1983′s “Anthem” proved to be a high point, with international versions selling in both Europe and the USA. By the time “Anthem” became the first-ever recipient of the new Best Reggae Album category at the Grammy Award though, Rose had left the band following a quarrel with Simpson.
Black Uhuru would continue with a variety of replacement singers; Junior Reid followed by former members Garth Dennis and Don Carlos and then Andrew Bees. Despite a further Grammy nomination for “Brutal” though their crossover success wasn’t repeated as the absence of Rose-penned material began to be felt.
Said to have invested in a coffee plantation in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, Rose returned to recording with a string of domestic singles, before major label support saw the appearance of the pop-tinged “Proud” album for European and Japanese consumption (although it failed to appear in the USA).
1995 then saw Michael’s US solo debut with a self-titled release that was followed up by a raft of further long players and singles under various guises on different labels. A reunion with Black Uhuru came in 2004, but he’s continued to record and tour with his own band.
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And here’s some footage of Rose in action: