Bobby Digital The Heatwave Legend
Updated: Aug 3
Arguably one of the most successful producers in Jamaican popular music, the legacy of Bobby "Bobby Digital" Dixon will stand the test of time. Born the third of five children in the Waterhouse section of Kingston, Dixon grew up attending dances in the 1970s, which featured sound systems such as Socialist Roots and Tippertone.
He started his career as an engineer and technician at Prince Jammy's Studio, where he shifted gears to become a producer. Dixon is part of an impressive studio engineer lineage from Waterhouse in Kingston. That 'family tree' started with Osbourne' King Tubby's' Ruddock, followed by Dixon's mentor, Lloyd "King Jammy's" James. He got his moniker 'Bobby Digital' because King Jammy had begun experimenting with 'digital' riddims at around the same time.
It was at James' Waterhouse studio that Dixon learned the production ropes, working mainly with artists from his community. But it was a deejay from nearby Seaview Gardens called Shabba Ranks that marked his remarkable transition from engineer to producer. During his stint at Jammy, he was responsible for the production of several dancehall classics including "Live Blanket" by Shabba Ranks and "Serious Times" by Admiral Tibet.
Dixon soon moved on to set up his label and studio called Digital B and immediately began to make an impact on both the national and international music scene. Around the same time, he also set up his sound system called Heatwave.
Dixon was pivotal to Shabba's international emergence, starting in 1987 with the rocking 'Peenie Peenie'. Anthems like 'Dem Bow' followed it; 'Wicked 'in Bed and 'Just Reality'.
Bobby Digital was not a one -dimensional producer and was equally adept at creating magic in any genres of Jamaican popular music. He skillfully navigated styles such as dancehall, lovers rock, reggae ballads, nyahbinghi and roots reggae. His work with Garnet Silk, Admiral Tibet Buju Banton and Sizzla resulted in several classic albums and singles.
While he became famous for working on Shabba Ranks's risqué songs, Dixon showed his versatility as a producer on timeless roots efforts. Including It's Growing, the debut album by Garnet Silk, 'Black Mother and Child', 'The Real Thing' by Sizzla and the Nyabinghi-driven Kette Drum rhythm.
It was Bobby who brought the very talented Morgan Heritage to the Jamaican fans after being introduced to them by their publicist and artist development specialist, Dennis Howard.
He produced their debut album Protect us Jah. He followed up with the celebrated album You Don't Haffe Dread which proved to be the sibling group's breakthrough work.
It was around that time that Dixon collaborated with Sizzla on his album, Da Real Thing, which was driven by hit songs like 'Solid as a Rock' and 'Just One of Those Days (Dry Cry)'.
Dixon frequently underappreciated for his contribution to the soundscape of Jamaican pop music. However, this sonic alchemist helped stylize the computerized phase of Jamaican music, as an accomplished sound engineer.
He was also responsible for numerous brilliant mixes of some classic live reggae recordings. The Digital B Studio has secured its place in the hallowed sound factories of the creative city Kingston.
The Digital B discography is an impressive array of hit songs they include "Till I'm Laid to Rest" Buju Banton, "Every Knee Shall Bow", Cocoa Tea and Charlie Chaplin.
"Tek Him" by Mad Cobra, and 'Serious Time', a three-the-hard-way smash from Admiral Tibet, Shabba Ranks and Ninjaman.
"Black Mother and Child", "Sweet Jamaica" Tony Rebel, "Mek it Bun Dem" Red Dragon, "I Can't Wait" Sanchez and "Lonesome Side" Coco T. This is just a small sample of the fantastic work of this talented son on the Jamaican soil coming from the belly of Kingston's concrete jungle
Bobby "Digital B" Dixon - Innovator and artist extraordinaire.