BBC News reported last week that the archives of the Jamaican Public Broadcasting Company, had been ransacked and deteriorated, resulting in thousands historic tapes and other media being stolen, destroyed and/or lost. With 80% of its contents gone, a year-long search has turned up NOTHING. This sad but detailed article from BBC mentions a “culture of complicity.
The world may never hear again the original recordings of The Wailers and countless others.
In my opinion, Jamaica is one of the most creative and interesting countries in the world, especially for its size, and to lose such a repository of music is a cultural tragedy of global proportions.
Dermot Hussey, acclaimed writer and host on Sirius XM’s reggae channel “The Joint,” told me that although it’s a public entity, “JBC has been locked down for years, and there is a certain amount of carelessness involved. Such an archive should have been better protected, but then when there is no vision, the people perish.”
Hopefully some of the music will be recovered, even if it takes going to the black market and taking it back.
Scratch Perry was quoted as saying: “I’m glad they did that, you’re glad why, what you give you get, who robbed me deserve to get what they’ve got.” Vengeance is his, but it sounds like he still misses the Black Ark.