November 5, 2008 – Byron Lee was born on June 27, 1935. He was a Jamaican musician and record producer, best known for his work as leader of Byron Lee and the Dragonaires.
They turned professional in 1956 and went on to become one of Jamaica’s leading ska bands, continuing since and taking in other genres such as calypso, Soca, and Mas.
Byron Lee and the Dragonaires was one of the best known Jamaican bands. Lee played a crucial pioneering role in bringing Jamaican music to the world. Formed in 1956 and playing a big band-ska sound their big break came in the first James Bond film Dr. No, where they appeared as the band in the scene at Pussfeller’s club and played a number of tunes on the soundtrack. They also caused a stir at the New York World’s Fair in 1964.
He purchased the West Indies Records Limited (WIRL) recording studios, renaming it Dynamic Sounds it soon became one of the best-equipped studios in the Caribbean, attracting both local and international recording artists, including Paul Simon and The Rolling Stones .
As successful as the band was, Byron was also having success as a promoter, owner of the Dynamic Sounds label, and studio owner, and was one of the biggest reasons for the explosion in popularity of Jamaican music in the late 1960s and early 70’s.
He died from bladder cancer on Nov. 5, 2008 at age 73.