The band had two lead singers. ‘Scatta’ (Robbie Harriott), with influences as diverse as Bob Marley, Bob Dylan and George Benson, and ‘Sleeco’ (Anthony Jones), who apart from being an excellent reggae drummer had a beautiful soulful vocal. While the pair were building up an original and varied songbook of over 200 compositions, they added further variety by recruiting an accomplished rock guitarist. Rite Sounds records in Leytonstone spotted them and tours of the Caribbean and Western Europe followed.
When Japanese promoters went looking for a band to spread the word about reggae in Asia, they travelled to where the variety, competition and choice was the greatest - London. Scattarocks were ready for them. There were about 30 other bands in the audition but none came anywhere near Scattarocks in terms of energy and variety, and the gig was theirs.
When I joined the band Scattarocks had already completed their first Japanese tour. It was the end of 1984 and they had just received the call to return. I had big shoes to fill. Their previous keyboard player, Michael Martin, had been poached by Burning Spear and went on to become the top UK reggae keyboards session man, arranging the music for some of Aswad’s biggest hits.
Our base was the ‘Hot Corocket’ in downtown Tokyo, where the new plan was to alternate London reggae every 6 months with the type of Brazilian samba bands that had long been popular in Japan. It soon became obvious why promoters had gone for such an energetic band like Scattarocks. Reggae had the tiniest toe hold in Japan after Bob Marley had visited in 1979, but Japanese audiences were shy, and for virtually all of them reggae was a brand new sound. The highly accomplished indigenous jazz fusion musicians they were accustomed to just looked at their instruments and did not engage with audiences. It took all of Scattarocks energy and charisma to get punters up dancing and into the reggae vibe.