Stranger Cole Plays LA This Sat

Stranger ColeLegendary ska, rocksteady and reggae hit maker Stranger Cole will make a rare appearance in Southern California this Saturday, December 3, when he headlines the monthly Ska Mania Night hosted by MC Juor Francis at The Joint on Pico Blvd.

Backing up Stranger for the night will be veteran LA singer Queen P (of Ocean 11, L.A. All Stars) with The Delirians, plus Penny Reel, The Hashishans and Soulfool Selector will showcase their talents to help make for an unforgettable night.

Stranger Cole was recently featured in and narrated the documentary Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae and will soon be highlighted in Legends of Ska: The Movie. On December 3, Stranger is sure to delight fans with his catalogue of popular songs from Jamaica’s heyday, including Rough & Tough, Stranger at Your Door, When I Call Your Name, Hey Hey Baby, Artibella, Bangarang, and Uno Dos Tres. It’s guaranteed to be one musical extravaganza with one founding father and some of the Southland’s best buzz-worthy Jamaican-inspired acts.

Born Wilburn Theodore Cole in 1945 in Kingston, Jamaica, family members called him “Stranger.” According to Mr. Cole, “Bwoy when I was born they say I did not resemble anybody in my family, so they call me Stranger. So from that time I mon just stick with the name.” In 1962, Jamaica gained its independence from Britain, and the then 17 year old Stranger scored a #1 hit with his debut “Rough & Tough.” This was made possible throughproducer and Treasure Isle Records head, Arthur “Duke” Reid. At the time, all of Jamaica was dancing to this implausible ska number.

Throughout the ‘60s, Stranger developed into one of Jamaica’s most reliable and dependable hit makers. He sustained the onslaught of the top ten charts with hits such as “Stranger at Your Door,” “Uno Dos Tres,” and “Run Joe.” There was a joke around the recording studios that Stranger as soloist, was a superb singer and a terrific dancer, but that he was timid on the microphone primarily because he recorded over 87 duets with some of the top vocalists of the ska, rocksteady and early reggae epoch. In fact, he was second only to his label mate Derrick Morgan who has 118 duets during that period. Quite a lot of of these notable recordings became master pieces that topped the Kingston charts: “When I Call Your Name,” “Hey Hey Baby,” “Give Me the Right,” “Your Photograph,” and “Down the Train Line,” are duets with the remarkable Patsy Todd, “Just Like a River” with Gladstone “Gladdy” Anderson, and “Artibella” with Ken Boothe, whom he introduce to Studio One label head Sir Coxsone Dodd in 1965.

Before relocating to the UK in 1971, Stranger had recorded widely for all of the top Kingston producers: Lee Perry, Joe Gibbs, Sonia Pottinger, Coxsone Dodd, Bunny Lee and Duke Reid. After touring England extensively and working with a number of the top UK bands, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 1973. After what seemed like a life time of recording and well over 174 singles released in Jamaica, it wasn’t until 1978 that he established his own label and his first full length album First Ten Years. This was followed by albums Capture Land in 1980 and Patriot in 1982.

Not known historically as one who dwells in one place for too long, Stranger grew tired of the bone chilling weather in Canada, and opted for Los Angeles, where the weather is much closer to that of his homeland. In addition to working in entertainment, he became vigorously active in the AIDS awareness movement in Orange County and L.A.. However, in the late ‘80s, Stranger returned to Jamaica where he remained very active. He has since toured the world, including performing throughout Europe, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. In 2003, the UK based Trojan label released a 54-track CD entitled Bangarang: The Best of Stranger Cole 1962-1972. In 2006, Stranger collaborated on an album with Jah Shaka entitled Morning Train. In 2009, he was featured extensively in the compellingly beautiful documentary Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae. The documentary and accompanying CD brought together some of the biggest names of the golden rocksteady era.

The Joint is located at 8771 W. Pico Blvd in Los Angeles (just east of Robertson Blvd.). Doors at 8pm. Music at 9pm. Tickets are $15. 18 and over. More information is available at (310) 275-2619, and

The Joint is committed to bringing the “one love” reggae vibe to the Westside. The popular night spot and Jamaican restaurant has previously hosted the likes of Judy Mowatt, Pato Banton, The Mighty Diamonds, Eric Monty Morris, Glen Washington, Sierra Leone Refugee Allstars, distinguished members of Peter Tosh’s band, plus a Jamaican Independence Ska & Rocksteady Celebration.

I've been involved in the Los Angeles music scene since at least 1995 going to shows, promoting, spinning records and running labels. Ska and Early Reggae are my passion among other things of course.