Pato Banton was born Patrick Murray in London in 1961 and moved to Birmingham when he was eight-years-old. His step-father, Lester Daley was a DJ from Jamaica and used to hold illegal parties in the family home at which Banton worked on the door as a lookout from the age of nine.
Banton earnt himself a long and successful career despite coming from disadvantaged circumstances in his youth.
In his early teens, Banton would stay up all night entertaining the guests on the microphone, hence why he was given the name Patoo by his stepfather. The name derives from a wise night owl in Jamaica, that stays up all night, calling ‘patoo, patoo.’
Number one MC in Birmingham
By the age of 16, Banton had become well known around Brimingham and received regular work. Within a short space of time, he became the number one MC in Birmingham, winning seven years in a row!
Whilst working for Sufferer Sound System at the age of 19, Banton was invited to join Crucial Music, a local reggae band. Within a year, Banton became the band leader, MC, singer/songwriter and manager, organising tours of the UK and Europe.
Their first single was“All Night Raving & Sensimilla.” After five years, Banton’s notoriety as a British MC outgrew the popularity of the band, and he moved on
He began recording again in 1982, after appearing on a talent show with Ranking Roger of The English Beat, which he won and consequently released the single, “Pato and Roger a Go Talk” which appears on the Beat’s gold selling album, ‘Special Beat Service.’
Shortly after, Banton performed, ‘Hip-hop Lyrical Robot’ and ‘King Step’ on the UB40 album ‘Baggariddim‘ in 1985 as one of the guest artists.
Banton’s first audition at Fashion Records impressed the producers so much that they instantly changed his name to Pato Banton. (In DJ circles a “Banton” is a heavyweight lyricist, thus in England, Pato became “The Banton”)
Banton’s next single, “Allo Tosh Got a Toshiba” reached number three in the independent reggae charts and launched a string of successful projects with Fashion Records, Greensleeves & Island Records. During this time Pato teamed up with top London MC Tippa Irie and under the guidance and management of GT Haynes, they traveled around the world and recorded songs like, “Double Trouble”, “Dance Pon De Spot” and “Dem No Know Bout Pressure”.
Banton joined up with a Birmingham band called the Studio 2 Crew and after a year of rehearsals and shows around the UK and Europe, went on to record his second album “Never Give In!” (1987) which featured a collaboration with Paul Shaffer.
With his popularity growing rapidly, Banton renamed his band The Reggae Revolution and began touring extensively. Banton released a more pop-oriented album third album, ‘Visions of the World‘ (1989), followed by ‘Wize Up! (No Compromise)‘ in 1990, which included a collaboration with David Hinds of Steel Pulse.
In the same year, Banton approached Neil Frasier at Ariwa Records, and recorded the album, “Mad Professor Captures Pato Banton” which is now regarded as an all time reggae classic!
Following this album and associated worldwide tours, Banton released his fifth album, “Live and Kicking All Over America” (1991) which was followed by ‘Universal Love’ (1992).
Then ‘Baby Come Back’ (1994) with Robin and Ali Campbell of UB40 became a U.K. number one hit, a best-of album was released. The song became a worldwide hit, achieving top fives in over twenty countries. Pato Banton became a household name in the UK as this single stayed at number one for four weeks in the charts.
Banton’s success continued with “Bubbling Hot”, another duet with Ranking Roger (which was also a top twenty hit in the UK.) In 1996, Banton joined forces with international pop icon Sting, on a reggae remix of “This Cowboy Song,” which earned a top ten in the UK charts.
‘Stay Positive‘ was also released in 1996, followed by ‘‘Life Is a Miracle‘ in 2000 which received a Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album.
Peter Gabriel’s organization, WOMAD, recognized Banton’s talents and invited him to headline a series of shows across the world. While on tour Banton was able to undertake music workshops for disadvantaged children in many cities and was actually allowed inside a maximum security prison in Sicily to lead a live music session with young offenders. This tour took Pato Banton & The Reggae Revolution to Europe, Australia, North & South America, Malaysia, Singapore & South Africa.
During this time Banton began to feel as though he had fulfilled his goals as an artist and wanted to refocus on his own community. Whilst touring America, Banton was informed that two of his sons had been shot in a drive by shooting. Although they both survived, this news confirmed that it was time to put something back into his home town of Birmingham, England.
Banton moved his Gwarn International Studios into a local community setting and created a small team of family and friends.
Despite leaving school at an early age without any qualifications, Banton took the opportunity while at Matthew Boulton College in Birmingham to advance his own education. He successfully completed a Level 1 & Level 2 course in Teacher Training and a course in Counseling Skills.
Meanwhile, he was also creating a community network called Musical Connections, designed to put music equipment and computers into 16 youth centers (including centers for young offenders). He also trained many community tutors how to deliver basic courses in Music Technology to young people.
Next, Banton set up a Community Classroom in the college so that young people who were talented or very interested in music, but had no formal qualifications had the opportunity to achieve a college education through music.
With the support of Viv Taylor, the Head of Community Safety in Handsworth, Banton launched another community project called Muzik Links in 2001. The aim of this venture was to attract young people who were at risk, in care, or involved in crime and gang activities to be involved in professional recordings, dance troupes and live performances.
By the end of 2002, Banton had set up his own School of Musical Arts And Technology (SMAAT) and with his entire team relocated to the city center. Within weeks they were approached by South Birmingham College, who offered to employ the services of Banton and his co-workers. Banton agreed to a partnership and accepted the role of Assistant Director of Creative Studies. The success at the college combined with his role in community centres, high schools, and many prisons around the UK has led to Banton’s work becoming recognized across the region.
In a partnership with the West Midlands Police Force called Project Ventara, it is noted that Banton’s involvement helped to reduce the number of gun related incidents across the city. Accordingly, Banton was nominated and awarded with the BBC’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication and commitment to positive change. In the same year, he also received the Black Music Award for Lifetime Achievement in recognition of his contribution to the British Music Industry and on that day, the Birmingham Museum opened its doors to the Reggae Hall of Fame.
In early 2005 Yahe Boda, a consecrated spiritual teacher and forerunner, invited Banton to do a short tour across America to “Gather the People in Praise.” This led to Banton to work on another album entitled, ‘The Words of Christ.’
After two short tours with Sol Horizon & DubCat, Banton joined forces with the very popular, Mystic Roots Band, voted top Reggae Band by the Los Angeles Music Awards. After a successful tour starting in Hawaii and then across the mainland of the USA and Canada, Banton and the band recorded the “Positive Vibrations” album.
*Pato Banton and Friends (2008)
*Positive Vibrations (2007)
*The Best Of Pato Banton (2002)
*Life Is A Miracle (2000)
*Stay Positive (1996)
*Universal Love (1992)
*Wize Up! (No Compromize) (1990)
*Mad Professor Recaptures Pato Banton (1990)
*Visions Of The World (1989)
*Never Give In (1987)
*Mad Professor Captures Pato Banton (1985)