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Groundation

Vibrant reggae band Groundation formed in 1979, and made musical manoeuvres across Leicester for the best part of a decade. Hailing from the Highfields area of Leicester, the band penned and played their own music – much of which was politically driven. Best described as close cousins artistically to legendary reggae outfit Third World, Groundation’s finest hour came as support for their heroes.

The seven piece was fronted by vocalist Terrence Browne (known as Tanni), who took over from original singer David Tyrrell (Waxo), a year into the band’s life. Joining him were drummer Dave Miller (Caesar), bassist George Jeffers (Bassie), lead guitarist Franklin Jeffers, rhythm guitarist Henry Ford, keyboardist Ellis Paul and saxophonist Robert Charles. The majority of the band members held day jobs or studentships, but their passion for music united them, despite being disparate characters.

In 1981, the band opened for Third World at Leicester University. “We stole the show and moved Third World’s manager to tears,” says lead singer Tanni. “The band themselves also loved us, and they were great guys – it was a fantastic night.” This appreciation was well-received by Tanni and the others, particularly as much of their music was inspired by Third World. Other influences included Birmingham’s finest reggae act, Steel Pulse.

Tanni recalls the sensitivities of the political climate of the time. As young Black men, the band encountered discrimination and harassment, as well as negative stereotyping. This had a creative impact on their lyrical content and sometimes even influenced where they could play and who could get into see them.

In 1981 the band released their 12 inch single – ‘Far wood’ – independently. Despite having a strong local following, the band found it difficult to get a deal, which Tanni attributes partly to the complications major labels found in marketing reggae. One of their subsequent releases, ‘Juggernaut’, was broadcast on TV show ‘Hear and Now,’ elements of which were later used as part of the programme’s theme tune. The song has also since been sampled by other music artists and hijacked in the spirit of jungle. More randomised fame came in the form of school TV show ‘Communicate,’ in which they were recorded performing.

Since disbanding, Tanni had some success in signing with UK label Greensleeves (via UK Bubblers), and after a break, sang in Bob Marley tribute band Duppy Conquerors. Other members are still busy beavering away in other bands and many of them are still in touch as friends. As Leicester’s definitive reggae band, Groundation’s music was a statement of the political climate of the time.

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