Blue Beat Records was an English record label that released Jamaican rhythm and blues (R&B) and ska music in the 1960s and later decades. Its reputation led to the use of the word bluebeat as a generic term to describe all styles of early Jamaican pop music, including music by artists not associated with the record label.
Blue Beat Records was founded in 1960 in London, England, as a sub-label of Emil E. Shalit‘s Melodisc Records. Melodisc, which was founded in London in 1947, specialised in calypso and mento music. It focused on American-influenced Jamaican blues and R&B, which later evolved into ska following the positive response in the United Kingdom to Laurel Aitken‘s Melodisc release of “Lonesome Lover”.Shalit put Sigimund “Siggy” Jackson in charge of the label, and Jackson subsequently chose the name Blue Beat, which he said was an adaptation of “It sounds like blues and it’s got a great beat” or “Blues Beat”, which apparently was a generic term for Jamaican blues music at the time.
The first Blue Beat release was Aitken’s “Boogie Rock”, which was licenced from Clement “Coxsone” Dodd‘s Downbeat label. The label’s distinctive blue covers and silver logo first appeared with Blue Beat’s third release, “Manny Oh” by Higgs & Wilson. The label reached licencing agreements with the majority of major Jamaican producers and released many home-produced recordings by Jackson featuring English-based artists such as the Marvels. Even some Prince Buster hits, including “Wash-Wash”, were recorded in London, and included well-known UK musicians such as Georgie Fame. Blue Beat released around 400 singles and over a dozen albums between 1960 and 1967. Prince Buster became the label’s biggest star, with songs such as “Al Capone“.