Real Name: Joseph Alphonso Sterling
Place of Birth: Kingston, Jamaica
Wales was brought up in West Kingston and took his name from a Clint Eastwood film. He began DJing alongside Buju Banton in 1977 on the Roots Unlimited sound system. He spent three and a half years on U-Roy's King Sturgav Hi-Fi in a successful partnership with Charlie Chaplin. His rugged voice and "reality' themed lyrics could be heard on live dancehall albums for Bunny Roots" Kris Disk label, before he joined Henry "Junjo" Lawes' Volcano, which went on to become Jamaica's leading sound system. "Leggo Mi Hand' became Wales" first hit, and was followed by his debut set The Outlaw Josey Wales, which established him as a serious rival to Yellowman. They shared the same Roots Radics rhythms on Two Giant Clash. Wales had a string of hits at King Jammy's, including "Na Lef Jamaica", "Water Come A Mi Eye", "It's Raining", "Culture A Lick" and "My Special Prayer", all of which demonstrated his instinct for frankness and ghetto "reality'. He recorded several excellent albums during the next few years, including Undercover Lover for George Phang and Rulin" for Black Solidarity, and brought Admiral Bailey and Shabba Ranks to Jammy's. He also voiced for Gussie Clarke, Exterminator and Jimmy Cliff.
He moved to the USA, but went into semi-retirement after recording for Count Shelly. Occasionally he performed on stage shows and sound systems. He made a comeback in 1993 when he topped the UK reggae charts with Beres Hammond on the duet "Hey Girl". Wales recorded further tracks, often reworking his old lyrics, with Hammond, Tapper Zukie, Exterminator, Gussie Clarke, Bobby Digital and King Jammy. In 1997 Wales survived being shot and robbed in a Kingston bar, and bounced back to top the Jamaican charts later that year with "Bush Wacked".
Encyclopedia of Popular Music
Copyright Muze UK Ltd. 1989 - 2005
Source - BBC Music Profiles