Derrick Clifton Harriott (born 6 February 1939) is a Jamaican singer and record producer. He was a member of the Jiving Juniors with Herman Sang before embarking on a solo career. He has produced recordings by Big Youth, Chariot Riders, The Chosen Few, Dennis Brown, The Ethiopians, Keith & Tex, The Kingstonians, Rudy Mills, Scotty, Sly & Revolutionaries, and Winston McAnuff.
As a student at Excelsior High School, Harriott formed a duo with Claude Sang Jr. Harriott entered the Vere Johns Opportunity Hour talent contest as a solo artist in 1955, failing to reach the final round, and entered again in 1957 as a duo with Sang, going on to win several times. The duo first recorded for Stanley Motta, and went on to record for several producers, having hits including "Daffodil" and "Birds of Britain" before splitting up when Sang's job took him overseas.
In 1958 Harriott formed the Jiving Juniors with Eugene Dwyer, Herman Sang (Claude's younger brother), and Maurice Wynter. The group had success on the Vere Johns Opportunity Hour, and in 1960 and 1961 had hit singles with "Lollipop Girl" (for Duke Reid) and "Over The River" (aka "I'll Be Here When He Comes", for Coxsone Dodd). The group split up after Harriott emigrated to the United States, although the other members continued for a while with Jimmy Mudahy replacing Harriott. After struggling to find work, Harriott reformed the Jiving Juniors with a new line-up, having already teamed up again with Claude Sang in New York. The new line-up included Winston Service and Valmont Burke, and split their time between Jamaica and New York, where they recorded at the Mirasound Studios, having hits including "Sugar Dandy". The travelling took its toll and the group split up in 1962.
Harriott embarked on a solo career and later formed his own record label, Crystal. His first solo release, "I Care", was a hit, with further hits following with "What Can I Do" (1964), "The Jerk" (1965) and "I'm Only Human" (1965), all of which were included on his debut album, The Best of Derrick Harriott. In 1967 he had further solo hits with "The Loser" and "Solomon", as well as with productions of other artists, including The Ethiopians' "No Baptism", and Keith And Tex's "Tonight" and "Stop That Train".
|"||Ask any Jamaican musician and they'll tell you the rocksteady days were the best days of Jamaican music||"|
The lyrics to his song "Message from a Black Man" (circa 1970) echoed the growing black consciousness in American soul music of that time. In 1970 he issued The Crystalites' The Undertaker, an instrumental album in a similar vein to the early music of The Upsetters. He produced successful albums by other artists, including DJ Scotty's Schooldays, Dennis Brown's Super Reggae and Soul Hits, and also his own 14 Chartbuster Hits.
In 1971, Swing magazine named Harriott the Top Producer of 1970. He was one of the first producers to use King Tubby mixing talents at his Waterhouse studio, issuing one of the earliest dub albums, Scrub A Dub, credited to The Crystallites. Harriott followed this with another dub/instrumental album, More Scrubbing The Dub. His late 1970s productions used backing from The Revolutionaries on albums such as Winston McAnuff's Pick Hits To Click (1978), DJ Ray I's Rasta Revival (1978) and his own Enter The Chariot and Disco 6 (a compilation album featuring Dennis Brown, Cornell Campbell and Horace Andy). In the 1970s he opened his first record shop on King Street in Kingston, later moving to larger premises at Twin Gates Plaza in Half-Way Tree.
In the 1980s, he continued to have hits with soul cover versions, such as "Skin To Skin" and "Checking Out". In 1988 he scored with "Starting All Over Again", a duet with Yellowman, with lyrics about Hurricane Gilbert. The mid to late 1990s saw solo efforts such as Sings Jamaican Rock Steady Reggae, For a Fistful of Dollars, Derrick Harriott & Giants, and Riding the Roots Chariot being released.
In July 2002 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Harriott performed at the two-night Legends of Ska festival. Other performers included: Skatalites, Rico Rodriguez, Lester Sterling, Johnny Moore, Lynn Taitt, Prince Buster, Alton Ellis, Lord Creator, Justin Hinds, Derrick Morgan and Lord Tanamo.