By Francis Clarke
On first inspection, the shop on Brixton Hill looks pretty unremarkable. Inside, there is a bank of computers offering low cost access to the Internet, whilst overhead, brightly lit signs advertise money transfer and shipping services. This shop, however, is owned by Frank Pitter, founder member and drummer with legendary UK Reggae band The Pyramids, and I was here to interview him about his career in music.
Frank’s big break came when his band, at that time called the Bees, backed Ska pioneer Prince Buster for his UK tour in 1967. Changing their name to The Pyramids and later Symarip, Frank and his band later went on to practically invent the sub-genre known as ‘Skinhead Reggae’ with their smash single Skinhead Moonstomp for Trojan in 1969. Along the way they also played on sessions for a veritable who’s who of Reggae, including Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker and Millie.
Looking back, Frank is perhaps most fond of the loyal skinhead following The Pyramids/Symraip attracted. “People used to say they’re fighters, a racist thing, but we conquered them … if they were racist we never seen any of that”
Despite all that he has achieved, Frank is not content to rest on past glories, As well as applying the finishing touches to a new studio in his shop, Frank has been performing live at events including the recent Heritage of Ska launch party at the Ritzy. He also has plans to introduce a new generation of music fans to his back catalogue through a series of digital releases. Summing up his future plans, Frank tells me, “I’m committed to this. I’m here to stay”.
To find out more about Frank’s plans, you can email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Francis Clarke is the man behind the Heritage of Ska and Roots of Reggae nights Upstairs at the Ritzy. Follow him on Twitter @FrancisClarke.