Rich Lowe, Jamaica Way, 2015
(This article features a 2014 interview with Lloyd “The Matador” Daley)
Lloyd Daley - also know as “The Matador,” was born on 12 July, 1939 in Kingston, Jamaica. Mr. Daley is known for his work as an electronic technician, his role as a sound system pioneer, studio engineer, and producer.
Mr. Daley worked as a linotype apprentice for a short time while attending Kingston Technical High School, where he graduated in electronics. Mr. Daley built his first amplifier to boost the signal strength of his army surplus walkie-talkie and he converted this same amplifier with four vacuum tubes, into a sound system amplifier. In 1955, Mr. Daley played his first sound system event at a social affair. The Matador was one of the very first sound systems to be named with a bullfighting theme. During this same period Lloyd’s Radio & Television Service was opened in Kingston and served to repair radios, television, and electronic equipment. By the end of the 1950s, The Matador was working on sono devices, and also working to improve the sound of amplifiers, which were in use with his own sound and in conjunction with a growing group of sound systems who were in search of the best amplifiers for their sound systems. The Matador provided the top amplifiers with clarity of sound and power of bass that had not been heard before and other technicians were unable to match. The Matador was building a reputation with his amplifiers and was able to demonstrate his unique sound at his own dances. Prince Buster and Duke Reid had Lloyd Daley adjust their amplifiers to improve their sound. In the late 1970s, Mr. Daley built one of Jamaica’s most powerful vacuum tube amplifiers with forty KT88 output tubes for “Jack Ruby High Power” sound system, which was owned by Lawrence Lindo (Jack Ruby).
A fitting approach to a study of Lloyd “The Matador” Daley is from the perspective of El Paso Selector Samuel The First. Samuel describes selecting an Audley Rollins track during a pivotal clash against Ruddy’s Sound at Ruddy’s personal lawn: “There was a group call The Emotions, Audley Rollins. It was Lloyd Matador. [Samuel sounds out the various parts of the song – in detail] The chorus was ‘Hallelujah burning in my soul.’ The vibe, I start to rub dat riddim. Everybody start ‘Rae Rae!’” Samuel continues, “Matador used to build amplifier, his friend have this sound name Jackie’s HiFi. Lloyd ‘The Matador’ build that sound. Oh God man, you could feel it 300 miles. It have a round cool quality, bass note drop. A heavy, melodious bass. It like sustain in your brain. When bass pattern drop, it like one-half second sustain in your brain.”
Lloyd Daley picks back up the story, “Jackie Robinson is the guy that I built his sound. He is still going strong. Jackie Robinson played cricket with Lawrence Rowe in Jamaica and is an electrician for Carriers. He was very impressed with my sound system resonance bass, so he paid me to build him an amplifier with that type of bass using 807 output tubes. He was a very good friend. Sam may not know that I built the first small amplifier for ‘El Toro Disco’ for Patrick Booker when he started his sound system while he was living at 15 Victoria Avenue.” Lloyd Daley built amplifiers for many sounds starting in the early 1950s, including El Toro Sound, Duke Hamilton’s Sound (St. Ann’s Bay), Count Muncey (owned by Roy Muncey of Gallaway Road), Sir Percy (owned by Percival Tibby), Supreme of Love sound (owned by Miss Powell and Pinchy from Bridge View, Kingston), King Prof Sound (located on Spanish Town Road in Kingston), and others.
The creation of Matador amplifiers is what brought Lloyd Daley his first level of success in Kingston. This success can be defined by the young technician Daley - with his impressive amplifiers, confronting Duke Reid and Clement Dodd and others in the Dancehall arena. In a 2010 Interview, Federal Engineer Graeme Goodall comments, “One of the unsung heroes at the time of course was Lloyd “The Matador.” He was very, very good because Lloyd used to build all these sound system amplifiers.” As evidence of the exceptional virtues of Matador amplifiers, Matador is the only sound system to be able to successfully and forcibly take over the dancehall when Duke Reid refused to cut off his sound. This took place at the Success Club on 63 Wildman Street in Kingston. The dance was in celebration of a local Kingstonian, “Big Junior” who had co-starred in the James Bond Film, “Dr. No.” Big Junior was also a close friend of Coxsone Dodd. The island was bubbling with excitement over the Jamaican premier of this film and The Matador was about to take on a bull of a man (and sound) in Duke Reid. The arrangement was for Duke’s “The Trojan” Sound to play for one hour and then The Matador was to follow. Lloyd Daley recalls, “Duke and his ‘Enforcers’ would not stop playing and I had to sign-on with "Heavy Sugar" by Lloyd Lambert. I was able to sign on, while drowning out Duke Reid, so that he had to stop playing entirely. Duke, he couldn't do a thing, with "Cuttings" at his controls.”
Finding it difficult to get the records played by competing sound systems, The Matador began recording his own music at federal Studios. The first 45rpm singles were produced in 1958 and featured Jamaican “Shuffle” style music, which was similar to Rhythm and Blues, but had a Jamaican flair. Later in his recording work, some of the earliest Ska music was recorded by Mr. Daley at Federal Studios. Most all of these releases were intended for sound system play on The Matador sound because Matador was creating music designed for exclusive play on his sound. In the Shuffle period, Jamaican music was a small run process and copies were sold or given away as exclusive gifts to fellow sounds. Some of these musicians recorded include Roland Alphonso (on “Bridgeview Shuffle”), Neville Esson, Owen Gray, Rico Rodriguez. By 1959-1960, Lloyd Daley was releasing music on his own “Matador” and “Mystic” record labels. Mr. Daley’s Ska music was recorded with an instrumental band christened “Matadors All Stars,” which featured many of the future Skatalites.
Signature Matador Sound
In the photo above, seated - second from the left, is Lloyd “The Matador” Daley with Edward Seaga on the immediate right as they sign contracts to play for Jamaican Independence. The Jamaican government signed the top six Sound Systems to perform at a series of Independence celebrations which took the form of parades with floats and street dances.
Coxsone Dodd had interest in his competition and would visit Matador dances to listen to the music and evaluate the crowd. On one night, Clement Dodd was accompanied by his session pianist and the man who auditioned new talent – Herman Sang. Sang was known as “Hersang” of the City Slickers and was also a member of the Jiving Juniors. In a 2014 interview, Herman Sang recalls this night, “I went with Coxsone to a Matador dance once just to listen. If you have some idea of what your competition was doin’, and he’s being successful, then you could copy it right? So we went once just to listen for about an hour. That night we had a session and we did some mastering and Coxsone may have given a tune to Lloyd and had him play it. That could have been done, but I don’t remember. The Matador Sound was clean, the sound wasn’t distorted. When you try to ‘drive’ the speakers, you’re always ‘in the red’ as Goodie would say (Federal Engineer Graeme Goodall). The sound would be distorted or partially distorted. Lloyd didn’t like that, so his sound was very clean.”
Unfortunately this early Dancehall era – like that of the 40s and 50’s Jamaican big bands, has virtually no recordings that were maintained. Lloyd Daley actually did record his sound system at dances on a Swiss made Revox reel-to reel recording machine. Daley recounts, “I had some recordings of my dances using the Revox machine, but those tapes may have been erased long ago by mistakes. I recorded my dances using a small speaker as a mic and got a wider range recording.”
In 1966, the police dismantled a part of the Matador sound system because they said it was disturbing the neighborhood with the heavy bass resonance that was being produced. As a result, Mr. Daley sold major portions of the sound and focused his efforts on work in the recording studio. The electronic repair shop was moved to 43 Waltham Park Road in 1968. This shop also featured a rehearsal facility and recording studio where Jackie Mittoo’s “Dark of the Sun” and The Scorchers’ “Ugly Man” was recorded. Mr. Daley’s wife Deanna Deans – daughter of famed Jamaican band leader Eric Deans, helped to contribute to her husband’s work as a song writer.
As a producer, the biggest hit for Mr. Daley came with the 1969 number one charted song “Bongo Nyah” which was sung by Little Roy. Matador then produced popular singles for artists like The Abyssinians (“Yim Mas Gan”), The Ethiopians (“Owe Me No Pay Me”), Dennis Brown (“Things In Life”), The Waling Souls (“Gold Digger”), The Gladiators (“Freedom Train” and “Rockaman Soul”), Alton Ellis (“Lord Deliver Us”), John Holt and The Paragons (“Equality and Justice”). Mr. Daley released music on a number of record labels, including Matador, Syndicate, Mystic, and Secret Agent. If the releases were selling quickly, Mr. Daley would merely stamp the blank label 7” single with an ink stamp, which read “Lloyd’s Television and radio.” Although Mr. Daley never released a one-artists album, many years later some of his recordings were released in compilation form by Heartbeat Records and Jamaican Gold Records. In the book Reggae, the Rough Guide author Steve Barrow commented that the releases “…superbly demonstrate how Jamaica’s musical heritage should be presented.”
The musical direction selected by The Matador was not to follow the love song focused U.S. Soul music in the late 1960’s. He chose to record religious/Rastafarian and socio-political lyrics. Instrumentals were another focus and many tracks were released with musical contributions by Johnny Moore (trumpet) and Lloyd Charmers (keyboard), (“Zylon” was a Jamaican chart hit in 1969). As dancehall toasting (rapping) surfaced, music by U-Roy was recorded (“Sound of the Wise” and “Scandal”), but with a Matador touch that voiced the toast over the exclusive Matador instrumental track. The instrumental “Voo-Doo” was recorded by The Hippy Boys (also voiced by Little Roy as “Hard Fighter”) and was one of the first instrumental dub tunes where drum and bass had a dominating role.
In 1970 Mr. Daley incorporated Lloyd’s Radio & TV Ltd, a limited liability company and sold appliances for Wonards. In 1970, RJR Radio opened his new business at 43 Waltham Park Road with radio hosts Don (“El Numero Uno”) Topping and Marie Garth. Matador had advertisements by “Pearl & Deans” (Palace Amusement Company) which were featured on four movie theatres in Jamaica: The Carib, Harbour View Drive-In, Tropical, and Ritz. In 1968 Mr. Daley had a 15 minute radio program to promote in music releases. This program ran for several years on RJR Radio at 10:15pm and was hosted by the great Charlie Babcock on “Sound Intensified.”
In 1975, disillusioned by recurrent non-payment of royalties, he left the music industry to focus only on his shop and electronics.
[Inspiration for this article was borne out of frustration when making a few entries in Wikipedia on the career of Lloyd Daley. I discovered that many of the entries were being deleted. At one point over 80% of the three pages that were written were deleted. What you are reading is a recreation of much of what was deleted as well as a robust addition of material from various Jamaican music industry giants, including Mr. Daley himself.
Rich Lowe, May, 2015]
*Countless single releases on the following 7” imprints – Matador Records, Lloyd’s Radio and Television Repair (hand stamp), Syndicate, Mistic, and Secret Agent labels.
Barrow, Steve (May 2008). Reggae, The Rough Guide (2nd ed.). London, England: Penguin Books. p. 103. ISBN 1-85828-247-0.
(Graeme Goodall, personal communication, November 11, 2010)
(Herman Sang, personal communication, January 11, 2015)
(Lloyd Daley, personal communication, May 5, 2014)
(Phillip Samuels, personal communication, May 8, 2014)
Lloyd Daley. In Wikipedia. Retrieved April 04, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lloyd_Daley