Synopsis of Pop Music
"Pass the dutchie on the left-hand side..."
Although reggae albums have sold well internationally since the 1970’s, very few reggae songs have become pop hits. One of the few exceptions was Musical Youth’s “Pass The Dutchie,” a catchy song that mixed reggae rhythms and a pop-friendly sound to create a #1 hit in 1983. This success was doubly amazing when one considers the group’s members were all between 13 and 15 years of age at the time.
Musical Youth was formed in the late 70’s by a group of English elementary students. Both Patrick and Junior Waite had music in the blood—their father Freddie had been a singer with a reggae band called the Techniques. Freddie sang with the group during their early days and helped them find gigs. The band became popular and won a contract after appearing on a BBC radio show. For their first album, they want to record “Pass The Kutchie,” a song by the Mighty Diamonds. However, 'Kutchie' referred to a marijuana-smoking device so it was changed to 'Dutchie,' which meant ‘cooking pot.’
The newly-renamed “Pass The Dutchie” played like a marriage between pop and reggae with its mix of steady rhythms, bouncy keyboards and exuberant Jamaican-accented vocals. It shot to the top of the English charts in 1982. When it was released in the U.S. in early 1983, it went Top-10. Eventually, “Pass The Dutchie” sold over four million copies and made the group an international sensation. They continued to have U.K. hits throughout 1983 with pop-reggae hybrids like “Heartbreaker” and “Tell Me Why.” The group also appeared on Donna Summer’s 1982 single, “Unconditional Love.”
Musical Youth disbanded in 1985 after one last album, Different Style. The Grant brothers continue to pursue careers in the music business. Seaton recorded a solo album in 1989 and more recently has fronted a band called XMY (short for ‘Ex-Musical Youth’). Just the same, their work as Musical Youth will always be fondly remembered for the clever way it blurred the boundaries between pop and reggae.
Artist Release History1982 - The Youth of Today
1983 - Different Style
Pop Sub Categoriespop
Essential Music AlbumsAnthology (One Way)
Band MembersDennis Seaton lead vocals
Patrick Waite bass
Freddie 'Junior' Waite drums
Michael Grant keyboards
Kelvin Grant guitar