Rough-voiced deejay Chaka Demus (born: John Taylor in Kingston, Jamaica in August, 1963) and smooth-toned vocalist Pliers (born: Everton Bonner in Rockhall Hills, Jamaica on April 4, 1963) have come together to create one of the most successful duos in the history of Jamaican music. The first Jamaican act to place three consecutive singles in the Top Five of the British music charts, Chaka Demus & Pliers have continued to make their presence felt. According to reggae website Real Groove, Chaka Demus & Pliers are “sexy, soulful and poppy enough to be saleable to U.S. R&B blandoids yet still tuff enough to raise gunshots and shouts of ‘Murder’ back in the Kingston dancehalls.
Both Chaka Demus & Pliers had established successful solo careers prior to combining their efforts. Demus, who grew up in the Waterhouse district of Kingston, launched his career as a deejay for the Roots Majestic sound system. Although he made his recording debut with the King Jammy-produced single “Increase Your Knowledge,” his first hit came in 1986 when he recorded “One Scotch” as a duet with Admiral Bailey. His subsequent hits included “Everybody Loves Chaka,” a duet with Yellowman, “Bring It to Me,” a duet with deejay/vocalist Scottie, and “Everybody Loves Chaka” and “Chaka on the Move,” which he recorded solo.
Pliers, who worked with such producers as King Jammy, Winston Riley, King Tubby, Black Scorpio, and Coxsone Dodd, recorded such solo hits as “Snake in the Grass” and “Bam Bam,” a hip-hop reworking of a Toots & the Maytals tune. In a 1998 interview, Demus recalled his initial reaction to hearing Pliers. “The man has a sweet melody voice, ” he said. “Any time I listened to him and listened to myself, I knew I could mesh with him.”
After collaborating to record “Gal Wine” for producer Ossie Hibbert, “Brenda,” for producer Ranking Joe, and “Rough This Year” for producer Blackbeard, Chaka Demus & Pliers had their first major hit, “Murder She Wrote,” produced by Sly & Robbie, which Pliers had previously recorded as a soloist. Their next single, “Tease Me,” remained in the British Top Ten for three months, reaching the number three slot, and sold more than 300,000 copies. “She Don’t Let Nobody,” a cover of a Curtis Mayfield tune, and “Twist and Shout,” a remake of the Isley Brothers and Beatles hit, recorded with Jack Radics and Sly & Robbie’s Taxi Gang, followed “Tease Me” into the British Top Five. The duo’s debut album, Tease Me, released in January 1994, included their first six singles and a new version of George Clinton’s anthem “One Nation Under Groove.” Their second album, She Don’t Let Nobody, released in 1995, reached number four on the British album charts. For Every Kinda Person, their third album, followed in 1997. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi