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BASSIE! BASSIE!

Clinton Fearon discusses his time with Scratch

Douglas Heselgrave is a Canadian reggae fan who has lately spent some time in the far east shooting a film. It was in Hong Kong that he met up with veteran Jamaican musician Clinton Fearon, bass player for the Gladiators and the man responsible for bass on Scratch's famous mind-bender "Roast Fish And Cornbread". Since Fearon left the Gladiators and relocated to the United States, he has been making music with his Boogie Brown Band. Douglas was nice enough to send me a copy of the interview, and here's what Clinton had to say about his time with Scratch:

"I worked at Black Ark. There's this one time I remember, playing with Scratch and he had some bad rhythms there. I was playing bass and he came up to me and said 'Bassie! Bassie! Try this bassline — dee bo dee bo boom boom' — and then he looked up at me, and said 'Oh, this is just the twentieth century! They're not ready for that yet!' I always remember that."

"Scratch is always out there trying something completely new out. Once you can accept Scratch, because he's very sensitive too. He's not an idiot. Scratch will know if you're messing with him or shining him on, or if you're allowing him to be himself. That’s my vibe. That's cool. I just love him. We used to spend plenty of time, drive some places, check out some friends. Chat, you know."

"Scratch is always out there trying something completely new."

"He brought me up by Bob one day, by Harry J's when Bob was doing Rastaman Vibration. Almost played on a track. What happened is that he claimed that Family Man was giving him a little problem during the session and he didn't know whether Family Man was going to show up. So, he said I should go on there, then Scratch say 'sit in on this one' because they were waiting so long. I sit down and warm up with the drums and suddenly I'm feeling really uncomfortable. Feel like I'm stepping into Family Man's shoes, you know. I know him, but not as a good friend and hang out socially all the time, but I know him and he knows me, too. I have a lot of respect for him, and unless I talked to him first and say 'What happen Fams? Is it all right? How you feel 'bout this? I don't want any bad vibes...' In the process of working out the line Family Man showed up, and like I thought, he had a vibe on him like what am I trying to do? Take away his gig or something? So, on the way back I said 'Scratch don't ever do that to me again!' (laughs)."

About Rastaman Vibration: "He was there and an inside supporter. I don't know how much work he did on it. He is a good instigator. He's not a great musician per se, like he plays an instrument, but he's a good percussionist. He has all kind of ideas. I remember at one time there, I want to tell you something, a lot of Bob's vibe are ideas he got from Scratch. He perfected it, and I mean Bob's ideas is good on his own already, so with Scratch's influence he took it to another level. It's only a pity that they couldn't have worked together coming up the line. Would be too powerful."

January 2002