We’ve long been looking for an excuse to shout-out Fresh Produce, an eclectic podcast that airs semi-regularly from “an undisclosed location in South London.” Thankfully, their latest show gave us a killer hook: The strange career of Jamaican rocksteady legend Phyllis Dillon.
As recounted by Fresh Produce co-host Daddy Like, who spun Dillon’s fantastic “Don’t Stay Away,” the singer emigrated to New York City in the late 1960s; despite her widespread fame in Jamaica, Dillon never made more than five quid off any one song, largely due to the island nation’s lack of royalty statutes. She became a bank teller in New York, handling deposits from clients who had no idea they were interacting with a music superstar. When she could, Dillon would then fly down to Jamaica and record tracks for Duke Reid‘s Treasure Isle label.
Dillon enjoyed a revival in the late 1990s, thanks to a rocksteady fad that swept through Europe and Japan. She tried to use her late-career earnings to retire to Jamaica, but frequent extortion attempts forced her to retreat back to New York.