David Katz‘s biography of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, People Funny Boy, provides some very useful biographical details about master percussionist, Uziah ‘Sticky‘ Thompson:
For the rest of , Perry worked closely with a variety of artists for [Joe] Gibbs, including future percussionist, [alternately spelled] Uzziah ‘Sticky’ Thompson, then a popular deejay known as *Cool Sticky. Born on August 1, 1936, in the rural district of Mannings Mountain, Thompson was the third of five children born to a poor contractor. The family’s poverty meant that Thompson was unable to complete his education, and at age 15 he moved to Western Kingston in search of work.
As the ska era approached, Thompson was one of the many box lifters assisting Coxsone Dodd with the running of his sound, and his friendship with Lee Perry dates back to this period. Gradually, King Stitt began passing the mike to Thompson at dances because of his ability to make certain sounds with his mouth, and when Coxsone heard these sounds, he recorded Thompson’s vocal oddities on the Skatalites’ hit “Guns of Navarone.” The success of the song saw Duke Reid using Thompson for the exciting introduction of the Skatalites’ ‘Ball of Fire,’ and the lasting success of this rival hit saw Thompson toasting regularly on the Treasure Isle sound system”:
“Ball of Fire“
The Skatalites (1965)
Katz also reveals the source behind Thompson’s distinctive stage name:
It was while toasting on Duke Reid’s sound that his capacity to excite a packed audience led to his peculiar nickname: ‘When I started to play Duke Reid’s sound, it always stuck up-stick up, so they just put the name on me, Sticky.’ In the late rocksteady period, Sticky provided Scratch and Joe Gibbs with a dynamic toasting style on songs such as ‘Train to Soulsville,’ an outlandish take on The Ethiopians’ ‘Train to Skaville’ given a James Brown workout.
(Photo courtesy of Discogs)
Uziah himself would like to make an important *clarification via Reggae Collector‘s website:
“You have a Sticky named Count Sticky … I know him! He always worked on the North Coast. He played the congas, but he is a calypso man! He used to live in Pink Lane … and I’d go and check him and he’d say, ‘Hi Sticky’ and I’d say, ‘Hi Sticky!’ The two of us used to live nice, but we do a different work … totally!”
“Ball of Fire” would be included on Soul Jazz’s box set — Studio One 007 = Licensed To Ska — of five 45s that saw release at the end of August 2020.