Linval Follows His Heart Again

by Claude Mills, Staff Reporter
Showbiz section, Sunday Gleaner, July 26, 1998

A wise man makes his own opportunities. That's the philosophy by which vintage crooner Linval Thompson lives his life and that's one of the reasons behind his success.

Born on October 2, 1954, Linval attended the Maxfield Park Primary, Melrose Primary and Kingston High Schools while growing up in the rough Kingston 13 area. Although he had a fascination for singing, he never recorded his first song, "There is No Other Woman," until his family migrated to the USA in 1971.

Linval produced his own virgin effort in a studio in Brooklyn and developed a skill that would serve him well later in his life. He began to make appearances on the nightclub circuit, stage show and dance circuit and even tried to form his own band. Although his entire family, including his two sisters and one brother, had migrated with him, Linval was still homesick. So two years later, the young man returned home.

Back in Jamaica, he hooked up with Bunny Lee who had received word of the young man's vocal talents and recorded "Train To Zion," which became a runaway hit.
Other hits followed, including "Baby Father" (which he produced himself), "Look How Mi Sexy," "If I Follow My Heart" (an Alton Ellis remake that did well in London) and a cover of the Delphonics' "La La Means I Love You."

Reaping Rewards

You don't seem to be complaining about not reaping any rewards out of the music. Why is that? "I can't bawl like some other men do. I tried from pretty early to know the business and I've done well. I made some investments out of it . . . a house, land, assets . . . the trick was that I produced a lot of the hit songs that I made and I produced other artists as well," the man who produced Freddie McGregor's definitive song, "Big Ship," said.

"Most of my songs were released in England through Greensleeves Records. Right there was the lick; that's how I made the money . . . I saw the importance of foreign exchange. So instead of doing something here and getting little or nothing, I tried to conquer the foreign market then returned to Jamaica to do business," he said simply.

However, things weren't always smooth with him; he had to make sacrifices.
"In the 1980s, the business got to be a way where dancehall was the in-thing, and I couldn't deal with the computer thing, because it never gave me the right vibes. So I just eased off and deal with publishing and collecting my royalties," he explained.

That hiatus in which he "got his business together" paid off because even though Linval's last major hit was "Baby Father" in 1981, he has a thriving business based on the repressing of smash hits of the past on vinyl for markets throughout Italy and Japan.

He has an iron-clad publishing agreement with Greensleeves and a Dutch company, Munich Records, leases his vintage catalog. "During those days, I traveled a lot, mostly in Europe, to hunt down my publishing, and in between I would record songs on tape. But I never released them 'cause it wasn't the right time," Linval said.

'Now' appears to be the right time as he is preparing to jump start his solo career once more with the release of Lump Sum on his own Thompson Sound label. The record will be distributed by Dynamic Sounds.

"The only major disappointment I have is that I never got a big deal with a major foreign company like Virgin or Columbia, but back then, it was never about ego or money so it wasn't a problem. I just give thanks for music, because if it wasn't for it, I don't know how I'd live. Now, I don't have to sing for my supper, I do it now because I choose to, and because I love it," he said.

Linval Thompson fans can catch him at the "Dancehall Style" affair at the Caymanas Polo Club on Saturday, August 1, featuring King Stur Gav along side artists such as Josie Wales, Brigadier General, Inspector Willy, Charlie Chaplin, and U Brown.

Thompson Sound Seven Inchers

Linval Thompson interview

Linval Thompson Discography in progress

Linval Thompson, "Well Wicked" by Steve Milne