Burning Spear – Spear Burning (PSCD 033)




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.

Inner tray artwork

Inner tray artwork

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.

Published in: on July 22, 2014 at 12:14 pm  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. what about danny wilson? confusingly they were in fact a band rather than a person (and to add to that, no one in that band had that name). they were one of those late-80’s bands supposedly influenced by the brilliance of steely dan, but unlike prefab sprout (who were great in my opinion) and deacon blue (who were rubbish) they didn’t last very long (just as well with such a silly name!) oh, just to confuse people further, there was a quite well-known footballer called danny wilson around at that time, but i don’t think the band was named after him…

    also, don’t forget that alice cooper was originally a band name before mr furnier ditched the rest and took it as his own stage name. i read a brilliant story about him recently: he and his wife attended an england cricket test match where they were introduced to geoff boycott… who immediately stepped forward to shake HER hand!

    • Well done, Alice Cooper is precisely analogous to Burning Spear, i.e. lead singer of band effectively changes name to band name; though the band name is a name name. Nice cricket story too.

  2. Burning Spear was originally a vocal duo, then a trio. After they split in 1976 Winston Rodney kept the name for his solo career. He has been known as Burning Spear ever since. See his Wikipedia page for more info. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_Spear

    • Sorry David, I don’t think I made it clear: This was meant as an Onion-style, silly joke–unlike the fictional “dad” in the article, I’m fully aware of WR’s nomenclatural history. 🙂

  3. max webster and molly hatchet were other acts that were bands rather than individuals,although i don’t know if anyone involved now goes around having assumed the name for themselves…

    • Lynyrd Skynyd (aka Leonard Skinner) was the name of some of the titular band’s high school PE teacher.

  4. I’m not aweare of the history of the nomenclature of the band, I always that it was just one person. But your article had me laughing out loud, and that scared the dog (although the cats remained completely impassive).

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