The reggae and dancehall music fraternity has been plunged into mourning following the death of legendary studio engineer and music producer Bobby ‘Bobby Digital’ Dixon, who died yesterday, at age 59 of a kidney-related illness.
Also known as Digital B, Dixon had an illustrious career spanning the genres of dancehall, lovers rock, and roots reggae. He was the mastermind behind Sizzla’s outstanding, hit-laden album Da real Thing in 2000, and smash-hit songs such as Shabba Ranks’ Peenie Peenie, Just Reality, Live Blanket and Wicked In A Bed; Cocoa Tea and Admiral Tibet’s Serious Times and Garnet Silk’s It’s Growing.
Classics such as Sizzla’s legendary ode to his mother, Black Woman and Child, and Morgan Heritage’s Don’t Haffi Dread, which included the song and album were produced by Digital B, as were Tony Rebel’s greatest hits Teach the Children, Sweet Jamaica and Dog deh yah more than bone.
Among those mourning his loss are Downsound producer Cordell ‘Skatta’ Burrell, who hailed the late producer as having made an outstanding contribution to Jamaican music and culture. In his tribute to Dixon, Skatta also posted excerpts from a documentary on the producer on his IG page.
“One of the greatest teachers who’ve empowered so many. It is with a passion that I even speak on this man’s accomplishments and talent… Honor and respect on all levels Bobby Digital Dixon as a Producer/Engineer/Sound System (Heatwave) owner you’ve inspired so many,” Skatta wrote on his IG page early this morning.
Macka Diamond, disc jockey and music producer ZJ Sparks, University of the West Indies (UWI) lecturer in Cultural Studies Dr. Donna P. Hope and Queen Ifrica were among the ladies in music who posted photographs and tributes to the producer, with Ifrica noting that she was torn by his passing.
“Walk good Blackman Bobby Digital Dixon. A lot of artists told you thanks when producing meant something in Jamaica. Tony Rebel is a part of that…,” she noted.
Tony Matterhorn, also lauded Bobby Digital as one of the greatest Jamaican producers, while singer Bugle, dubbed him as one of the island’s greatest who made a remarkable contribution to the music industry.
Dixon was given the moniker ‘Bobby Digital’ during the mid-1980s when producer King Jammy, with whom he worked at the time, started to experiment with digital rhythms. During that period, Bobby served as the digital engineer and was among those who pioneered the stylizing of the computerized phase of Jamaican music.
At King Jammys, Bobby was the engineer for Frankie Paul’s I Know The Score and Sara, Pinchers Denise; and Admiral Bailey Jump Up.
Dixon has credited Shabba Ranks as among the best artistes he has worked. In fact, his breakthrough as a producer came with the Grammy Kid, as he has production credits on the deejay’s As Raw As Everwhich won the Best Reggae Album Grammy in 1992.
Bobby Digital was a son of Olympic Gardens in Kingston. He started working with King Jammys in 1985, after which he moved on to establish his Heatwave Studio and Digital B label in 1988 and later his Heatwave sound system. He is credited as one of the originators of the dancehall genre, and as a mentor and teacher and mentor to many artistes and producers in Jamaica’s music fraternity.