Groups dominated the early Jamaican popular music scene with many of the early stars going that route before branching out on their own. Most of the biggest hits came from groups. Some operated as duos, while most were three-part harmonies. The Gaylads belong in the latter category, and were the equal of the more celebrated outfits. Perhaps, in some other time, they would have been celebrated as superstars, rather than being second cousins.
Starting out at a time when “gay” could have been used as a prefix to “lads”, without any sexual connotation and anti-gay backlash, the group crafted several #1 hits with a high-pitched style uniquely their own.
Winston “Delano” Stewart, a castoff of Boris Gardiner’s Rhythm Aces, and a prospective
singer-songwriter named Harris “BB” Seaton joined together in early 1963, and had some success as Winston & Bibi”. Produced by iconic producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, they charted with tunes such as “Whap Whap”, “River Jordan”, Brown Skin Gal, and “Gal and Boy” aka “Emmanuel Road.
Later in 1963, they added a third member, Maurice Roberts, and thus the Gaylads group was born. The group’s early output was overseen by the aforementioned Coxsone Dodd, and featured hit such as “Lady With the Red Dress on”, “Stop Making Love Beside Me”, and “You Should Never Do That. They also provided backup to other artistes vocally and instrumentally with Stewart and Seaton playing guitar and Robert string bass.
With Seaton providing most of the songwriting, they followed up their early single efforts with their debut album entitled “Soul Beat”, which featured the enduring classic “Come Love Me With All Your Heart Girl”. Seaton even wrote the Ken Boothe Classic, “The Girl I Left Behind Me” in 1967. Their sophomore album, “Sunshine Is Golden”, signaled the end of their association with Dodd and his Studio One label.
Signing with Sonia Pottinger, the only female record producer, in 1968, the trio scored immediately with the rocksteady gem” It’s Hard to Confess”, and continued with the nonsensical nursery rhyme–themed “ABC Rocksteady”, and “Over the Rainbow’s End”.
Their next stop, in 1969, was Leslie Kong’s Beverly’s Records where they set the nation on fire with a track called “There’s a Fie, pun intended, but the pièce de résistance was their tribute to Jamaican ladies, aptly entitled “My Jamaican Girl”.
At this time, Stewart migrated, and the group suffered a double whammy, when Kong died of a heart attack. Soon thereafter, Seaton also migrated, and Roberts brought in brothers Rondel and Hopeton Thaxter. After one album, Roberts rechristened the group Psalms in response to pressure from anti-gay activists. Psalms became a backup band for Bunny Wailer until Roberts’s death on August 14th, 2015.