Augustus “Gussie” Clarke was born in rural Jamaica on March 26, 1954. Gussie lost his mother so early in life that he has no memory of her. After being housed in an approved school, he was adopted by Miss Iris Robinson of Kingston, who sent him to Calabar Primary School and the illustrious Kingston College (High School).
During his second year at Kingston College, in 1966, Gussie developed the daily habit of arriving at school very early so that he could maximize the revenues from selling rides on his bicycles.
Propelled by a compelling inner force, which he simply calls destiny, he combined his earnings from his “bicycle-ride” business with saved lunch money to buy a pre amplifier, turntable, speaker and power amplifier parts.
He also learnt to make speaker boxes in woodwork class. Miss Robinson engaged a technician to make a power amplifier as a birthday gift for him. Gussie had a series of barter deals which lead to the establishment of King Gussie Hi-Fi. This extremely driven young entrepreneur had now joined the ranks of famous men whose heavy-bass sound systems pounded out reggae music in its infancy and provided the medium for the birth of DeeJay music, a genre that would eventually spawn American rap.
Operating out of an old wooden house downtown, Gussie imported records through a friend in New York and supplied sound systems with international records and Dub specials. He also explored other dimensions in the music industry which saw him voicing a song at the renowned Downbeat Studio 1.
In 1972, the seasoned 18-year-old launched his record producing career. His first artiste was the legendary pioneer DeeJay U-Roy, who recorded a single entitled “The Higher The Mountain”. That debut record by Clarke became a classic. This track marked the official beginning of Gussie’s long term love affair with music and helped him establish himself as one of the top producers of all time that Jamaica had to offer. It paved the way for a career marked by vision, planning, focus, organization, integrity and ultimately success. Always breaking new ground, Gussie Clarke always stood out because of his professional operation in an industry that has been laden with creative talent but lacking in efficient administration.
Through the 1970s and early 1980s he worked with artists such as Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Augustus Pablo, Leroy Smart, and The Mighty Diamonds, including the latter’s influential “Pass the Kouchie” in 1981.With an uncanny knack of picking winners, throughout his career, he has produced crucial records for a number of outstanding Jamaican artistes such as U-Roy, I-Roy, Freddie McGregor, J.C. Lodge, Coco-T, Home-T, Thriller-U and Shabba Ranks, Maxi Priest as well as among others.
In the late 1980s, Clarke adapted to the new dancehall style of reggae, but stood out from other producers by attempting to produce glossier recordings with greater potential to cross over internationally.
In 1987, while he was still recording at Music Mountain and Dynamic Sounds studio, the first record to bare hints of this newly embraced digital sound came from the release of The Mighty Diamonds’ The Real Enemy. “Gang War”, the first single off the album released on his Music Works label showcased this new digi-roots style, incorporating keyboard and computer programming driven riddims, compared to the known traditional roots reggae sound with players of live instruments recording in the studio. This release stood out as the first transitional record for Clarke and his production blending old-school roots reggae to the newly embarked digital dancehall riddims to take shape for the coming years.
In 1988 Gussie launched his Music Works studio, equipped and ready to fully adopt the digital reggae era, successfully as a producer returned with hit records and singles for many Jamaican and UK artist alike. He continued to gather some of the best songwriters, musicians, background singers, arrangers, engineers and mixers Jamaica had to offer. By mid-year, the first full-length albums to showcase the masterfully crafted, dominant sounds of the Music Works studio, was The Mighty Diamonds’ Get Ready and Gregory Isaacs’ Red Rose For Gregory, and both released just months apart. The latter of the two saw the spawn of the monumental “Rumours” track described as a hard-hitting, bass-heavy driven electro-dancehall stomp. To great success, Clarke produced several artists off the following Rumours aka Telephone Love one riddim compilation and generated heavy Jamaican radio rotation off other tracks showcased on the Music Works Showcase ’88 release. To an enthusiastic changing and accepting reggae music market, thus began the new sound of ’90s Jamaica. Some of the notable hits from this creative era include “Telephone Love” by J.C. Lodge, “Just A Little Bit Longer” by Maxi Priest, “Twice My Age” by Shabba Ranks and Krystal, “Rumours” by Gregory Isaacs, Two Wicked album by Aswad and Mr. Loverman by Shabba Ranks.
Gussie Clarke was perhaps the first Jamaican producer to issue regular royalty statements to artistes, and one of the earliest to engage in music publishing via his Dub Plate Music Publishers entity. By this time, he developed a peerless reputation as the leader of a team that produced magical chart-topping sounds.
He is widely acknowledged as a stickler for quality, with a penchant for astute personal selection and a special feel for combinations that work well. The consensus of the music industry is that Gussie recruits the best engineers to build, maintain and operate his studios, the best musicians to lay down tracks and arrange his recordings and the best administrators to help him run the business.
Despite his early success and his sterling reputation in Jamaica and abroad, Clarke did not rest on his laurels. Always the bold mover, he took a giant step in 1993 when he relocated his famous Music Works studio into a more spacious property on Windsor Avenue in Seymour lands, an upscale Kingston suburban area and renamed it Anchor Recording Company.
The original studio, it’s logotype proudly affixed to an exterior wall, became Studio I at the new complex. But the flagship of the relocated Music Works is the new Studio II, rated one of the best in Jamaica. The recording centre is completed by a small Studio III,and Studio IV (1997) a mecca for young musical artistes and producers.
Many of Clarke’s releases were issued on his own record labels Anchor and Music Works, as well on the Greensleeves, VP, Pow Wow and Shanachie labels.
In the mid-’90s, he predominantly released albums on the Gone Clear Distribution label for newcomer artists such as Daddy Rings with the herbalist ragga tune, and in combination style with Cocoa Tea, “Herb Fi Bun”, female dancehall diva Sasha, veteran reggae saxophonist and longtime musical associate Dean “Cannon” Fraser, and a reunited appearance effort with The Mighty Diamonds for the rare and underrated album release “Stand Up”.
Some of Clarke’s mid- to late ’90s releases were still licensed to record labels such as Ambassador Music, Greensleeves and VP Records. Soon after his final produced full-length album for the late Dennis Brown, titled Stone Cold World in 1999 for VP Records, Clarke’s productions quietened, with the occasional one-off single or re-issue compilation formats of previously released material re-sequenced and repackaged.
In 2006, Clarke produced the one-riddim compilation album Consuming Fire for VP Records’ Riddim Driven series. The same year saw him as co-producer for international star Rihanna’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” released off her Girl Like Me studio album.
In October 2014 the Institute of Jamaica awarded Clarke a bronze Musgrave Medal for his contribution to music.
The year 2016 saw the rebranding of the Anchor Group of companies. This evolution gave birth to the Gussie Clarke Music Group. The Gussie Clarke Music Group has five companies that covers opportunities and development through partnership for songwriters and creators of music (PitchWorks Music), music publishing (Dub Plate Music Publishers), recording studios (Anchor Recording Studios), media duplication and packaging (Anchor Media Products & Services) and online mixing and mastering (Anchor Mix and Mastering). Gussie continues to oversee the daily operation of these companies. As an innovative businessman he is always on the cusp of technological advancements ( especially in the recording studio as Anchor Studios are renown for always having the newest software and hardware). Overall, Gussie Clarke continues to create and innovate and refuses to be left behind by changing tides in the creative industries. He stays on top by embodying integrity, perseverance, wisdom, professionalism and discipline and continues to be a trendsetter in the Jamaican music business.
Record Producer, Music Publisher Music Executive Entrepreneur
Just to name a few of his notable works
A few of his accolades and accomplishments
JACAP – Jamaica Association of Composers Authors & Publishers Limited.
Anchor Recording Company, The Largest Recording facility in JA
Dubplate Music Publishers, The largest Jamaican owned Music Publishing Company in JA with a catalog of over 10,000 songs & 100 Jamaican writers. Dubplate has sets up & administers publishing Companies for Jamaican Publishers (King Jamms, Bobby Digital, Mainstreet Music, Shocking Vibes Music etc) & has major international deals with the Worlds largest Music Publishing Companies.
Anchor Media – the largest CD DVD duplicating & printing company in Jamaica.
“EXCEPTIONAL CONTRIBUTION TO THE REGGAE INDUSTRY: PRODUCER”