|10th November 2018|
Musical Youth is a British Jamaican reggae band. They are best remembered for their successful 1982 single “Pass the Dutchie“, which became a number 1 hit around the world. The band recorded two studio albums, and released a number of successful singles throughout 1982 and 1983, including a collaboration with Donna Summer. Musical Youth earned a Grammy Award nomination before disbanding in 1985 after a series of personal problems. The band returned in 2001 as a duo.
The group was formed in 1979 when the fathers of Kelvin and Michael Grant and Frederick (known as Junior) and Patrick Waite put together a band featuring their sons. The latter pair’s father, Frederick Waite Sr, had been a member of the Jamaican reggae group The Techniques. Frederick sang lead with Junior at the start of Musical Youth’s career. Although schoolboys, the group managed to secure gigs at different Birmingham pubs and released a double single in 1981, including songs “Generals” and “Political”, on a local label (021 Records, named for the then-Birmingham area code.) An appearance on BBC Radio 1 John Peel‘s evening show brought further attention to the group, and they were signed to MCA Records. By that time, founding member Frederick Waite Jr had backed down to be replaced by Dennis Seaton as lead singer.
During the autumn of 1982, the group issued one of the fastest-selling singles of the year, “Pass the Dutchie” (based on the Mighty Diamonds‘ “Pass the Koutchie”; a song about passing a pipe used to smoke cannabis). The title had been subtly altered to feature the patois “dutchie“, referring to a type of pot used for cooking. This idea was reinforced throughout the political and economic overtones of the song about extreme poverty and Musical Youth asking the question “How does it feel when ya got no food?”. The record went to number 1 in the UK Singles Chart in October 1982. It went on to sell over four million copies, and was nominated for a Grammy Award. A Top 10 placing also followed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States.