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Cecil Bustamente Campbell (born May 28, 1938), better known as Prince Buster, is a musician from Kingston, Jamaica and regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of ska and rocksteady music The records he made on the Blue Beat label in the 1960s ins ...
Cecil Bustamente Campbell (born May 28, 1938), better known as Prince Buster, is a musician from Kingston, Jamaica and regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of ska and rocksteady music The records he made on the Blue Beat label in the 1960s inspired several reggae and ska artists.
By the 1970s Buster had slowed down his career as a musician to focus on his business ventures. The ska sound was not as popular as it once was, but its influence was clearly felt in its descendants: rocksteady, which was basically ska with a slowed-down beat, and by rocksteady's better-known successor, reggae. In addition to the musical influence, many reggae lyrics expressed an Afrocentric, Marcus Garvey-inspired worldview, which had been present in some of Prince Buster's songs. Bob Marley, Toots Hibbert, and other reggae stars have acknowledged their debt. Buster also made a cameo appearance in the acclaimed international hit movie, The Harder They Come.
By the late 1970s, Buster was in serious financial trouble. His business ventures were all posting losses or low profits, and the loans he had taken out to start them were catching up. Fortunately for him, ska was experiencing a revival in the United Kingdom. In 1979, the band Madness released its first record, a tribute to Buster called "The Prince", which urged ska fans to remember "the man who set the beat", stating "So I'll leave it up to you out there / To get him back on his feet." Interest in Buster soared during this time; he received royalties when his songs were covered by bands like The Specials ("Al Capone", re-titled "Gangsters"), The (English) Beat ("Whine and Grine"), and Madness ("One Step Beyond" and "Madness"), and his old records were reissued and sold well. Between these boons, The Prince was indeed able to "get back on his feet."
Prince Buster now lives in Miami, Florida. He no longer records or produces, but has performed at a few shows over the past several years.