Sandra Cross, Vivian Jones + The Robotiks Triple Header at Wilkswood Reggae 2020
Lovers, Roots and Dub Fusion as Reggae Legends Headline on the Main Stage.
Expect a one-in-a-lifetime festival experience when reggae dignitaries Sandra Cross, Vivian Jones and The Robotiks take to the main stage together at Wilkswood 2020.
Cross Your Heart
A native of South London, Sandra Cross is a true reggae superstar. She won the British Reggae Awards for the Best Female Singer six consecutive years from 1985 to 1991 and has recorded six albums on Mad Professor’s Ariwa label. She has released some of the best-loved reggae tracks and her distinctive, sweet-as-sugar vocals have featured on numerous lover’s classics.
Sandra started singing in the Pentecostal Church and led the choir when she was nine; at 14, she recorded with a friend as Love & Unity. The recording was the first prize for winning a talent show with a song Sandra wrote, the timeless classic ‘I Adore You’. Released on Studio 16 Records, it topped the Britain’s reggae chart for four straight weeks in 1979. They followed with three top five-hits: ‘I Just Don’t Care’, ‘I Can’t Let You Go’ and ‘Put It On’.
In the early 80s she met producer Mad Professor, who had just started Ariwa Sounds. He chose Sandra for an all girls’ band called The Wild Bunch. They recorded three singles and a self-titled album, which entered the reggae top 20 chart in 1984. Sandra’s first solo release was a remake of the Stylistics’ ‘Country Living’ in 1985 followed up by ‘You’re Lying’ and ‘It’s You’, all reaching the top of the British reggae charts. Sandra dropped off the radar in the 90s, retreating to Barbados but she returned to the UK in 2007 recording once again for Ariwa and other labels.
Me and Mr Jones
Vivian Jones has established a long and fruitful career as a reggae vocalist, having initially been regarded as a lovers rock performer. He emerged in the late 70s as the lead singer with the Doctor Birds, but by 1980 Jones was pursuing a solo career. ‘Good Morning’ topped the reggae chart and signalled the beginning of a run of hits for the singer.
His popularity spread from the UK to Jamaica where his reputation continued to prosper. In 1988 he was acclaimed as the best reggae performer and won the award for four consecutive years. He released a series of reggae hits, including the chart-topping ‘Strong Love’, ‘Extra Classic’, ‘I Care’, ‘A Woman Should Be’ and ‘Sugar Love’. He also performed on duets with the élite of female UK reggae vocalists, including Sylvia Tella on ‘Nu Chat To Me’, Debbie Gordon for ‘Mr Right’ and Deborah Glasgow on the acclaimed ‘The First’.
By the mid-90s Jones had established his own Imperial House label, and he escaped his lovers rock image when in 1994 he released the rootsy ‘Iyaman’, an approach that continued with ‘The Kin’g. In 1994, ‘Happiness’ reaffirmed his status as one of the UK’s top lovers rock performers. In 1995 he recorded his debut for Fashion Records, ‘Dedicated To His Majesty’, which featured an outstanding performance from the contemporary DJ Nico Junior.
On his own label he released ‘Love Is For Lovers’ and an album of the same name, and maintained a high profile throughout the mid 90s with a series of hits including ‘Let’s Go Again’ and ‘Very Thought Of You’. His international notoriety was enhanced when the US-based Wooligan label released ‘Jah See Dem A Come’, providing the singer with a Top 10 hit in reggae charts worldwide.
Day of the Robotiks
The Robotiks are best known for being Mad Professor’s ‘house band’ and they have performed with the maverick producer both live and in the studio. Centered around guitarist and vocalist Errol Nicholson (aka Black Steel), Robotiks have provided back-up for U-Roy, Horace Andy, Alton Ellis, Lee Perry, Macka B, Pato Banton, Aisha and Ranking Ann.
Founding member and original Robotiks keyboard player Victor Cross was introduced to Mad Professor in 1981 by his brother, Sgt Pepper, when he came along to overdub some of Pepper’s tracks. From that introduction, Cross was frequently at the studio and became associated with Black Steel after Steel became a session guitarist there in late 1983. After sessions with Jah Shaka associate Tony Ranking, Mad Professor asked Steel to stay on at the studio, overdubbing tracks and assisting in engineering and, essentially, Robotiks was born. The band have released three albums in their own right, Man & Machine (1985), My Computer Is Acting Strange (1986) and Black Steel: Lion In the Jungle (1996), as well as backing on several albums
In 1988, Robotiks stretched out as a live performing unit, hiring on Sinclair Seales for drums and Fitzroy Brown holding down the bass end of the riddim section. They were augmented by Noel “Fish” Salmon on second keyboards and occasionally Drumtan Ward, another alumni at Ariwa Studio. This band backed numerous Ariwa and non-Ariwa artists including Alton Ellis, Eek A Mouse, Yabby U, Augustus Pablo, Macka B, Vivian Jones, Roots Daughters and many others.
The tragic death of Victor Cross resulting from an auto accident in 2000 ended that long-lived collaboration but the band coped with the loss and continued on both in the studio and stage show appearances. While the lineup within the band has fluctuated over the years, this year’s performance at Wilkswood 2020 will feature a number of key original members and Robotiks will be playing a set of dub-drenched pieces as well as versatile backing to Sandra Cross and Vivian Jones.
More details of the line-up will be announced over the next few weeks. Keep up with latest news by following us on Facebook.
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