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Real Name: Winston Foster
Born: c.1959
Place of Birth: Kingston, Jamaica
Official website: not known

Yellowman was the DJing sensation of the early 80s and he achieved this status with a fair amount of talent and inventive and amusing lyrics. He built his early career around the fact that he was an albino and his success has to be viewed within its initial Jamaican context. The albino or "dundus" is virtually an outcast in Jamaican society and Foster's early years were incredibly difficult. Against all the odds, he used this background to his advantage and, like King Stitt, who had previously traded on his physical deformities, Foster paraded himself in the Kingston dancehalls as "Yellowman", a DJ with endless lyrics about how sexy, attractive and appealing he was to the opposite sex. Within a matter of months, he went from social pariah to headlining act at Jamaican stage shows and his popularity rocketed; the irony of his act was not lost on his audiences. He performed with fellow DJ Fathead at the Aces discotheque in St. Thomas where the duo built a solid reputation. Yellowman's words of wisdom were punctuated by Fathead chanting "ribbit" and "oink" sounds at the end of each line, which became en vogue in the early 80s.

Yellowman and Fathead's records with producer Henry "Junjo" Lawes were both witty and relevant, "Soldier Take Over" being a fine example. Yellowman was also the first to release a live album - not of a stage show but recorded live on a sound system - Yellowman And Fathead Live At Aces included performances from Jah Reubal and Little Harry alongside the DJ duo. The album captured Yellowman at the height of his powers and in full control of his "fans"; none of the excitement is lost in the transition from dancehall to record.
Yellowman's records sold well and he toured the USA and UK to ecstatic crowds - his first sell-out London shows caused traffic jams and roadblocks around the venue. It seemed that he could do no wrong, and even his version of "I'm Getting Married In The Morning" sold well. He was soon signed to a major contract with CBS Records and was King Yellow to everyone in the reggae business. However, this did not last, and by the mid-80s it had become difficult to sell his records to the fickle reggae market. Nevertheless, by this time he had been adopted by pop audiences all over the world as a novelty act and while he has never become a major star, he is still very popular and his records sell in vast quantities in many countries.

He has released more records than a great many other reggae acts - no mean feat in a business dominated by excess. Having become both rich and successful through his DJing work, it is mainly his ability to laugh at himself and encourage others to share the joke that has endeared him to so many.

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

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