Full Name: Horace Swaby
Birth Date: June 21, 1953
Birth Place: St. Andrew, Jamaica
Horace Swaby (June 21, 1953 – May 18, 1999), better known as Augustus Pablo, was a Jamaican roots reggae and dub record producer and keyboardist, active from the 1970s onwards. He was known for his devotion to the spiritual Rastafari movement.
He was born in St. Andrew, Jamaica and learned to play the organ in Kingston College School. It was at that point an unnamed girl lent him the melodica. Fascinated by the instrument, Pablo rarely put it down. He also met Herman Chin Loy, who after working at his cousin Leslie Kong's Beverley's record shop, had set up his own Aquarius store in Half Way Tree. Swaby recorded early tracks including "Higgi Higgi", "East of the River Nile", "Song of the East", and "The Red Sea" between 1971 and 1973 for Chin-Loy's Aquarius Records. The name Augustus Pablo had previously been used by the producer for many of the discs he produced featuring a keyboards player, and Swaby took the name for this recording. "East of the River Nile", a unique blend of East Asian and Jamaican sounds, became a moderate hit. Augustus Pablo popularised the use of the melodica (an instrument used primarily to teach children music in the Jamaican public schools) in reggae music. He soon joined Now Generation (Mikey Chung's band) and played the keyboard with them while his friend, Clive, began his own career as a record producer. Pablo and Chin recorded "Java" (1972) together, as soon as Pablo quit Now Generation and Clive was able to get the studio time. The instrumental was a massive hit, and launched Pablo's solo career. He recorded with Chin and various others, including Leonard Chin, his uncle, and Lee Perry. He scored another smash hit with "My Desire" (John Holt).
Pablo formed labels Hot Stuff, Message and Rockers (named after his brother's soundsystem, Rockers), and released a steady stream of well-received instrumentals, mostly versions of older hits from Studio One. In spite of his success with Rockers, Pablo's seminal 1974 album, This Is Augustus Pablo was recorded with Clive and Pat Chin. This was followed by a collaboration with the legendary reggae engineer King Tubby to great acclaim, releasing 1975's Ital Dub. In the later 1970s, Pablo produced a steady stream of hits, including the hit "Black Star Liner" (Fred Locks). He also worked with Dillinger, Norris Reid, I-Roy, Jacob Miller, Te -Track, The Immortals, Paul Blackman, Earl Sixteen, Roman Stewart, Lacksley Castell, The Heptones, Bob Marley, Ricky Grant, Delroy Williams,Junior Delgado, Horace Andy and Freddy McKay. This period was eventually commemorated with critically acclaimed LP's including King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown (1976) and Hugh Mundell's classic Africa Must be Free by 1983. This was followed by East of the River Nile (1978), Original Rockers (1979) and Rockers Meets King Tubby in a Firehouse, another acclaimed hit album. In the 1980s, Pablo's career slowed significantly. In 1980, he could be seen in the documentary D.O.A. (1980 film). He had begun to establish an American audience and released Rising Sun in 1986 to good reviews and sales. Pablo also produced memorable hits, including "Ragamuffin Year" (Junior Delgado), "Humble Yourself" (Asher & Tremble) and "Far Far Away" (Ricky Grant). In addition, Pablo toured extensively throughout the world, making a memorable live album in Tokyo in 1987. That same year, Rockers Come East re-established his career and he began to release a series of critically acclaimed though somewhat inaccessible albums in the 1990s, including Blowing With the Wind and also producing several, such as Night & Day (Dawn Penn) and Jah Made Them All (Yami Bolo).
Augustus Pablo died as a result of a collapsed lung on 18 May 1999. He had been suffering for some time from the nerve disorder Myasthenia gravis. In the summer of 2008, The Mystic World of Augustus Pablo: The Rockers Story (box set) was released which includes 4 discs, biography booklet, and dvd - video footage. He has a daughter named Isis, and a son named Addis. They are working on their music careers while attending college. Addis has a music group in Jamaica, and Isis is working on a electro, reggae, and pop album.
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