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Prince Far I

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Prince Far I

Real Name: Michael James Williams
Born: c.1944
Place of Birth: Spanish Town, Jamaica
September 15th, 1983

Prince Far I, the voice of thunder, was originally a bouncer at the premises of Coxsone Dodd's Studio One, Jamaica's premier record label of the 60s and early 70s. A huge, muscular figure with impressive facial scars, he was known as a gentle giant with hidden depths. One day in 1970 King Stitt, the regular DJ at Studio One, had failed to arrive to voice a track, and Williams, the bouncer, persuaded producer Dodd to allow him to try. Impressed, Dodd named the new artist King Cry-Cry and a legend was born. After a couple of records as Cry-Cry, he renamed himself Prince Far I. A gruff, deep, slow-burning rhymer, his talents at first appeared limited, although Far I was built to last: while other DJs' careers fizzled like firecrackers, Far I retained his status throughout his life. When he really let rip, as on his 1976 album Under Heavy Manners, he was awesome. His Psalms For I remains a roots classic today, and his Trojan Records albums, Free From Sin, Jamaican Heroes and Voice Of Thunder, were all of a high standard. A brief liaison with Virgin Records brought him a wider, rockier audience, as did his Cry Tuff Dub Encounter (1976-79) series of dub albums, originally cut for his own Jamaican label Cry Tuff.

Eventually, Far I spent a fair portion of his time in England, where he recorded as part of Singers And Players for Adrian Sherwood's On U Sound label. The pair worked together well, particularly on the "Virgin" single, an undisguised swipe at Far I's previous label. UK gigs were frequent, with Far I, dressed in biblical robes, "chanting down babylon" with the help of hundreds of white youths, whom he genially met and offered signed autographs after the show. However, just as he was starting to build this new following, he was shot dead in Jamaica, yet another victim of Kingston's regular street violence, one year short of his 40th birthday.

Encyclopedia of Popular Music
Copyright Muze UK Ltd. 1989 - 2005
Source - BBC Music Profiles

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