Deejays At Black Scorpio

Mikey Melody , Panhead and unknown deejay hanging out at Black Scorpio studio in Kingston.

The studio system has not changed much over the years, it’s like the scene  in the movie The Harder They Come singers and deejays wait around waiting for their turn to voice a tune for the “boss”. A producer in an afternoon could get six or more different singers or deejays to sing one tune, all on the same riddim, then pick the best sounding ones to put out.

On any given day I would see dozens of deejays, singers, even songwriters hanging out, milling around singing and chatting out loud rehearsing their next tune. Then there was also the hierarchy of talent, you strive to be one of the people inside the gates, not one of the people outside begging for a chance to be let inside and show what skills you have. The occasional fight would break out, and that’s what the gate-keeper, or “Gateee” is for, to keep the undesirables outside and to keep the peace inside.

In June in an earlier post I said that I used to see Panhead everywhere, I must have photos of him at four different studios.  A  few weeks ago I was going through some old news papers clippings on reggae and came across one from  XNews in Jamaica, it was about Panhead’s murder. Below is a few excerpts put together from the XNews article on October 14, 1993.


“Me, Panhead and a next youth left the dance (At Maverley) around 3 a.m.” They drove in Panhead’s white Ford Escort motorcar. On reaching Panheads home “the three of us entered his gate (on Washington Blvd) then two me dressed in soldiers uniforms appeared from over the wall” He added that the men identified themselves as military officers. The men’s faces he recalls, were masked so they suspected they were not soldiers. Panhead ran off and one of the men fired a .45 mm handgun. The shot missed Panhead and lodged in the Escort motorcar. The eyewitness said Panhead then ran off again and fell outside. One of the gunman then stopped and shot Panhead twice in the head. The eyewitness also said “two of the men were at the front of the yard” They, (the eyewitness) then fled the scene.

Panhead was about to go international with two singles “African Princess” and “Poor People Government” he had an album out on the Jammy’s label. Residents where Panhead grew up remembered him as a youth who did not love war. One resident declared “Panhead a peaceful and conscious youth”.

The PIC said according to reports from Maverly Police, Johnson (Panhead) had driven his car home and shortly after several explosions were heard in the vicinity of his apartment. Other occupants of the house went to investigate  and found Johnson laying in a pool of blood with a bullet wound to the head. Three armed men were also seen running from the scene. According to Panhead’s wife, he was at Arrows studio when a dispute developed. She said he was smoking marijuana in the studio and was told not to. He refused and was escorted out of the studio by the Police.

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