I haven’t been so confused since I found out that Pink Floyd was a band: you’re telling me that Burning Spear is one person? Are you sure? I’ve got, like, seven or eight of their albums. It just seems like a weird ‘stage name’, especially for a reggae artist. I mean, don’t they usually go for American tough guys or anthropomorphised rodents?
Okay, say you’re right, how do you explain the photograph of a trio of men of the back of my copy of the Marcus Garvey? It lists their names right there! And it doesn’t say Bob Smith, Ted Jones and Burning Spear, it says “Rupert Willington, Delroy Hines and Winston Rodney”.
Burning Spear. No, it doesn’t sound right as a man’s name. When he shows up at the pub is it like, “Hi, Burning, come sit down and join us” or when he’s picking up his dry cleaning, does the bloke behind the counter say, “Extra starch in the collar Mr Spear, just how you like it”? No, it’s all wrong.
Yes, I know Bunny Wailer’s mother called him Neville Livingston when he was born, but that doesn’t prove your point that Burning Spear is one man’s name. If anything, it weakens your argument. Think about it: if one of those guys was adopting the band’s name for his own, wouldn’t it have made more sense to be known as, say, Rupert Burning-Spear or Delroy Burning-Spear?
Tell you what. If we’re ever at a party and this guy is there and you introduce us, “Burning Spear, dad. Dad, Burning Spear” and he acts like that is, in fact, his moniker, then I’ll believe you. Until then, I say Burning Spear is what the band is called.
Editor’s Note: I got this second-hand for only £3. An excellent Pressure Sounds comp of BS singles and dubs, I’d say it ranks right up there with Spear’s proper albums (which can sound a bit clinical sometimes), with the versions providing contrast to the vocal takes, Rodney’s voice being an expressive but limited instrument. There are a couple of other vocalists involved, too.