Welton Irie

Welton Dobson, 1960, Jamaica. Welton began his career performing as, simply, Welton, toasting for Big John’s Stereophonic Sound (later known as Echo Tone Hi Fi) from 1976 till 1981. He initially emulated his hero Ranking Trevor, sometimes proving indistinguishable. Welton built up a hardcore group of devotees, enabling him to introduce young talent to the sound. One of Welton’s proteges was General Echo, who, alongside Big John and Flux, was inexplicably gunned down by police in Kingston.

They were the first artists who used slackness in there lyrics long time before Yellowman was crown as King of Slackness. Welton moved to the Gemini sound, notable for allowing Yellowman to make his debut on the sound system circuit in a clash with Jack Ruby’s Hi Power sound. Gemini was one of the biggest and well known sound in this time. Following his departure to the Virgo sound, Johnny Ringo stepped in and Welton performed alongside the Lone Ranger. Welton and the Lone Ranger began their recording careers as a duo with Coxsone Dodd at Studio One, performing in a style similar to Michigan And Smiley. It was at this time that Welton added Irie to his name following a recommendation from Dodd. The duo recorded a version of “Joe Frazier” for “Big Fight” and echoed Bob Marley with “Chase Them Crazy”. The partnership was short-lived, and in the early 80s Welton released a succession of hits for a variety of producers, including “The Bomb” over the Baba Boom rhythm and “Army Life”, which inspired Yellowman’s preferred interpretation, retitled “Soldier Take Over”. A session with Sly And Robbie resulted in the number 1 hit “Ballerina”, followed by the equally popular tribute to marijuana, “Lambs Bread International”. Welton also demonstrated that he was a proponent of black pride with the unyielding “Black Man Stand Up Pon Foot”. Other songs included “Parish Connection”, “Dance A Cork”, “A Weh You Fah”, “Serve Me Long”, “Jailhouse Affair”, “How You Keep A Dance” and “Come Nurse”. By 1983 Welton returned to the Gemini Sound for an international tour alongside Johnny Ringo and Squiddly Ranking.


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