a.k.a. The Riddim Twins
Lowell 'Sly' Dunbar (getting his nick Sly from listening to Sly
Stone) and bass player Robert Shakespeare meet in the mid-seventies.
Dunbar already had quite a reputation as a drummer. He had played on
several Jamaican hit records, for example, "Double Barrel" by organist
Collins. His rhythmic innovations to reggae drumming were becoming a
trade mark for Channel One when he got acquainted with Aston 'family
man' Barrett's youthful protégé bass player Robbie Shakespeare.
had already done a lot of studio work, like "Stir It Up" from
Bob Marley and some stuff with the Aggrovators. Sly was playing at a
club called Tit for Tat and Robbie was up the street at Evil People.
They heard each other playing on their breaks, and they liked what they
heard. It didn't take very long for them to decide to form a rhythmic
drum-'n'-bass partnership, and Sly & Robbie became a fact.
In Jamaica they released several albums with the
Revolutionaires, some of which were later released in Europe and the
Sly, Peter Tosh and Robbie
Their first major project was providing backing for the late
singer/songwriter Peter Tosh in his backing band Word Sound and Power.
In this period they scored their first major worldwide # 1 hit single
with Peter Tosh and Mick Jagger -- "(Keep On Walking) Don't Look
Back." They recorded five albums with Peter Tosh -- "Equal
Man" and "Wanted Dread
& Alive." While on a world tour
with Peter, they lived on bread and water to save money to be able to
start their own record label: TAXI Productions.
When they returned from touring, they indeed raised the TAXI label.
They joined the band Black Uhuru and from there things really started to
happen. Black Uhuru, consisting of singers Ducky Simpson, Puma Jones and
lead singer Michael Rose (now known as Mykall Rose) and Sly &
Robbie on drum and bass turned out to become the most progressive
sounding reggae band of that time. In this line up 5 (6 with the dub
album included) albums were released: "Showcase," "Sinsemilla,"
"Red," "Chill Out,"
Factor" and "Anthem,"
each album being a large step forward towards innovating reggae music.
After "Anthem," Michael Rose left the group and was replaced
by Junior Reid and two more albums were produced: "Brutal" and
Another artist with whom they've been recording is
Grace Jones. Sly
& Robbie played on three albums. Everybody knows songs like
"I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango)" and "Pull Up To
The Bumper." The work with Grace Jones was the start of many
international artists wanting Sly & Robbie to produce and/or
provide the drum 'n' bass backing for their songs and albums, e.g.,
Cocker, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Ian Dury,
Hancock, Maxi Priest,
Barry Reynolds, Carly Simon, etc. In reggae, they backed and produced a
talented new singer, Ini Kamoze, who's first album was a massive hit
among the reggae audience.
Around 1990, a new turn in reggae music came up: raggamuffin or ragga.
The drum computer became an important ingredient and started to replace
live drumming on studio recordings. The Rhythm Twins released "The
Summit" in 1988, which is a record that contains eight instrumental
tracks. It is hard to define whether it's live drums or a drum computer
(it is live drums). This album can be seen as the last one on which Sly
& Robbie play their instruments. Now, Sly focuses on
drum programming and production (Robbie still plays the bass), and again
they produce a gigantic world wide hit: "Murder she Wrote" by
Shaka Demus and Pliers.
Since then, they have been writing and composing for
Luciano, Beenie Man, more Shaka Demus and Pliers and numerous other,
mainly ragga/reggae artists.
Hit songs include --
Other notable songs include --
- Unmetered Taxi
- Red Hot
- Sitting & Watching
- Righteous Dub
- Demolition City
- Ballistic Squeeze
- Exodub Implosion
Sly & Robbie may be available for your next special event!
.Roots Reggae. / RootsReggae
.Dub. / xDub
.Dancehall. / xDancehall
x70s, x80s, x90s, x00s, x10s
Formed: ..in Jamaica
Based: ..in Jamaica