Mad Professor needs no introduction to reggae devotees. He is one of the leading producers of dub music’s second generation and is widely acknowledged to have been instrumental in transitioning dub into the digital age. He has collaborated with reggae artists such as Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Sly and Robbie, Pato Banton, Jah Shaka and Horace Andy, as well as artists outside the realm of traditional reggae and dub, such as Sade, Massive Attack and The Orb.
Born Neil Joseph Stephen Fraser in 1955 in Georgetown, Guyana, he became known as Mad Professor as a boy due to his fascination with electronics. He emigrated from Guyana to London at the age of 13 and later began his music career as a service technician. He gradually collected recording and mixing equipment and in 1979 opened his own four-track recording studio, Ariwa Sounds, in the living room of his home in Thornton Heath. He began recording lovers rock bands and vocalists for his own label (including the debut recording by Deborahe Glasgow) and recorded his first album after moving the studio to a new location in Peckham in 1982, equipped with an eight-track setup, later expanding to sixteen.
Fraser’s Dub Me Crazy series of albums won the support of John Peel, who regularly aired tracks from the albums. Although early releases were not big sellers among reggae buyers, the mid-1980s saw this change with releases from Sandra Cross (Country Life), Johnny Clarke, Peter Culture, Pato Banton, and Macka B (Sign of the Times). Fraser moved again, this time to South Norwood, where he set up what was the largest black-owned studio complex in the UK, where he recorded successful lovers rock tracks by Cross, John McLean, and Kofi, and attracted Jamaican artists including Bob Andy and Faybiene Miranda. In 1983 he teamed up with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry for the recording of the album Mystic Warrior.
Mad Professor will be appearing with the Ariwa Posse, a group of musicians and deejays associated with the Prof’s recording studios in south east London. The performance will feature performances from roots reggae stalwarts, Sister Aisha and Sister Audrey, and Chukki Starr, one of the UK’s top deejays.