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The Melodians were a rocksteady band formed in the Greenwich Town area of Kingston, Jamaica in 1965, by Tony Brevett (nephew of The Skatalites bassist, Lloyd Brevett), Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton. Renford Cogle assisted with writing and arranging material.
In 1966 The Melodians made their recording debut with Coxsone Dodd's Studio One label with the releases "Lay It On" "Meet Me", "I Should Have Made It Up" and "Let's Join Hands (Together)." From 1967 to 1968 they had a number of hits on Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label, including "You Have Caught Me", "Expo 67", "I'll Get Along Without You", and "You Don't Need Me." After recording "Swing and Dine" for record producer Sonia Pottinger, they recorded their biggest hit, "Rivers of Babylon" for Leslie Kong. This song became an anthem of the Rastafarian movement, and was featured on the soundtrack for the movie, The Harder They Come. After Kong's death in 1971, they recorded for Lee Perry and Byron Lee's Dynamic Studios. In 1973, Brent Dowe left the group for a solo career. The group reformed briefly a few years later, and again in the early 1980s.
The Melodians regrouped again in the 1990s as part of the roots revival and continue to perform and record. In 1992 they recorded "Song of Love", which was issued on the Tappa Zukie label. Throughout the later 1990s they continued touring internationally, including appearing at the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival in California in 2002. In November 2005 The Melodians embarked on a West Coast tour.
On the evening of 28 January 2006, after a rehearsal in preparation for a performance to take place the following weekend at the Jamaican Prime Minister’s residence, Brent Dowe suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 59. The remaining original members Tony Brevett and Trevor McNaughton continued touring in Europe and the U.S. backed by the Yellow Wall Dub Squad.