Regarded as the first Jamaican child singing star, Delroy George Wilson was born on October 5, 1948. Wilson began his recording career at the age of 13 while still a student at Boy’s Town Primary School. Barely out of short pants, he recorded his first single, ”Emmy Lou”, for Producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd. His early years with Dodd yielded a number of ska hits, the biggest of which was the Lee Perry- penned “Joe Liges”, an attack on rival producer and former Dodd artist, Prince Buster. Wilson later followed up with “Spit in the Sky”, yet another lyrical attack on Buster. But it didn’t stop there, Wilson went on to record:
- One, Two, Three
- I Shall Not Remove
- Look who is Back (Duet with Sun Smith)
- Prince Pharaoh (the only recording featuring Coxsone)
It was in the mid 60’s when Wilson’s voice began to mature and as he left his teenage years behind that he began to transition from ska to rocksteady. This would be his peak production period. His songs included one of the first rocksteady hit records, “Dancing Mood”, and also Jerking Time, Feel Good All Over, I’m not a King, True Believer in Love, Rain from the Skies, Conquer Me, and Won’t You Come Home”, a duet with Ken Boothe. His hit with Boothe went on to become one of the most versioned tracks ever.
Wilson left Studio One and recorded tracks for other labels before him and his fellow artists created their own “D&C” label in 1972. Under this label he recorded the song “Better Must Come”, a song that was later used as the People’s National Party political slogan and campaign song. This same year Wilson recorded the hit “Cool Operator”, which later became his nickname.
It was in 1976 that Wilson recorded “I’m Still Waiting”, which met with some crossover success. This was followed by “Last Thing on My Mind”, which sailed up the Jamaican music charts to occupy the #1 spot.
In his later life, Wilson drifted in and out of the limelight. He eventually died on March 6, 1995, due to complications of liver disease. He will always be remembered for his earlier works. His son Karl “Konan” Wilson is carrying on his legacy to this day.