Mon | Aug 10, 2020

Music the sacred mission of magical Bobby Digital

Published:Tuesday | June 30, 2020 | 12:10 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, pays tribute to Bobby Digital .
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, pays tribute to Bobby Digital .

From humble beginnings at Collies Road in Olympic Gardens, where he was regarded as an exceptional goalkeeper, Bobby Grantley Dixon rose to achieve international acclaim for his skills in the recording studio, in the process earning the moniker ‘Bobby Digital’, a tribute to his magical creations at the mixing board.

Last Saturday, members of the entertainment fraternity turned out in large numbers to the thanksgiving service, held at the Pembroke Hall High School auditorium, to pay tribute to a man many people regarded as a musical genius. The famed record producer, who died on May 22, was 59 years old.

Success did not spoil Bobby Digital, according to Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, who, in paying tribute, reminded her audience that it was a measure of the man that he preferred to speak through his music, rather than engage in frivolous conversation. In a recent interaction with him, Grange says she was reminded of the qualities which made him such a special person.

“The kind of humility that Bobby Digital displayed is so lacking in the current-day personalities in the music industry. He was single-minded in his devotion to those he loved, but was never afraid to express his displeasure at behaviour he deemed inappropriate. He was unpretentious, with a remarkable sense of truth,” Grange told the mourners.

The minister attested to his ability to straddle and master all genres of music with consummate ease. This versatility was critical to his success as a consistent hitmaker.

“He was an extraordinary man in whose hands the ordinary would become sublime. He shone majestically with the spiritual outpourings of Sizzla Kalonji, as he did with the risqué offerings of Shabba Ranks. He was as outstanding and with the meditative reflections of Morgan Heritage as he was with the provocative expressions of Terror Fabulous. Yet, if the truth be told, music for Bobby was a sacred mission. His soul-stirring collaborations with Garnet Silk, Sizzla Kalonji and Morgan Heritage bear testimony to this belief.”

Also on hand to pay respects was Glendon ‘Admiral’ Bailey who credits Bobby Digital with helping him to break into the music industry, while he was an engineer at producer Lloyd James’ King Jammys Studio in Waterhouse. Bailey was plying his trade as deejay on a sound system named Roots Melody when Bobby Digital heard him and told his boss about the up-and-coming entertainer. Thereafter Admiral Bailey went on to record a string of hits on the King Jammys label.

“He was the one who really gave me that opportunity. Bobby has had a hand in all my hits because he was the studio engineer, but when he branched off on his own I didn’t go with him, but we remained good friends,” Bailey The Gleaner.

And Grange spoke to the importance of the collaboration between them and passing of the baton from one legendary record producer to another.“The infectious Sleng Teng riddim with its countless versions is testament to the transformative power of the musical synergy between Jammys and Bobby Digital,” she said,

“In 1985, Wayne ‘Sleng Teng’ Smith gave part of his name and voice to the ganja ode Under Mi Sleng Teng, produced on the King Jammys Label and which truly ushered in the digital age of Jamaican popular music.

But what was it that made Bobby Grantley Dixon so special? Grange also had an answer, pointing out that from his relatively small studio, “Bobby was not only digital, he was also magical. He was able to coax sounds and emotions from artistes that others might have found impossible to locate.”