…. “Be you, yabby yabby you” ….
Heard a man with dreadlocks in 1969 in Jamaica. The storm interrupted one of the many discussions he had with his Rastafarian friends about who is the true God on earth – Jesus or Haile Selassie. Trough crackling thunder, he claims, he heard voices saying: “Be you, yabby yabby you”.
His name was Vivan Jackson, and in the Rastafarian communes where he lived, he received, due to his religious beliefs, the frivolous nickname “Jesus Dread”. He was born in the ghetto of West Kingston in a poor family.
From his father, he heard Duppy stories, the evil spirits that persecuted the inhabitants of the island, and his mother led him to the local church since he was a little youth.
Fascinated by the Bible’s messages and with the desire to better understand them, at the age of 12 he thought that mimicking the life of Jesus, he would find answers through the conversation with various religious leaders on the island. The path led him to “Ites People”, a commune of radical Rastafarians who slept on the open air and fed only with root vegetables. He earned money for life by working in metal waste. Such a way of life has contributed to a serious illness at his 17th age (including malnutrition, gastric ulcer, brain and lung inflammation), rheumatoid arthritis that caused the rest of the life to walk on the crutches.
…. “Be you, yabby yabby you” ….
So ill and crippled he was forced to earn for life by begging and by doing various “shady” actions in Kingston’s ghetto.
He also began to compose poems. Like other poor musicians, he was circling around music studios in which he would present his music to the studio owners by singing the acapella version of his songs. The famous King Tubby promised him to record a song once Vivian would secure enough money for the recording. In the year of 1972, he had succeeded in turning the voices from the sky into the earth music. The bass player Aston “Family Man” Barret, the drummer Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace and the guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith played instrument shares for free. The result of this work is the song “Conquering Lion”, which began his musical career and multi-year collaboration with King Tubby. It was King Tubby himself who had persuaded him into adopting the nickname “Yabby You”.
After recording several singles with members of “The Gladiators” and “The Congos”, Yabby has formed the vocal trio “The Prophets” in which, beside him, were Bobby Melody and Alaric Forbes. Their debut album “Conquering Lion” is a true masterpiece of roots reggae music. Fantastic songs, from which some were recorded in Lee Perry’s “Black Arc” studio, represent the “dark union” of traditional roots reggae, Rastafarianism and Yabby’s loyalty to Christianity.
Following are equally fantastic albums “Chant down Babylon” and “Deliver me from my enemies” where Yabby has managed to maintain a high standard of music production. In addition to his own, he produced albums for Wayne Wade, Tony Tuff, and Michael Prophet, as well as many singles with DJ’s like Trinity, Jah Stitch, and Prince Pompidou.
Periods of musical inspiration were often followed the longer periods of illness that has stalled him. At the time of his musical (and health) peak, Yabby also released several extraordinary dub albums in collaboration with the master of dub “King Tubby” and “Scientist” (King Tubby’s pioneer).
Vivian Jackson aka “Jesus Dread” aka “Yabby You” died on 12 January 2010 in his 63 age.
His musical legacy was presented by the publishing house “Shanachie” on a fantastic box set: “Dread Prophecy (The Strange and Wonderful Story Of Yabby You)” released on February 16, 2015.
Text author: Dadaman