Rest in peace Cecil “Skelly” Spence
Israel Vibrations was composed of three singers Cecil “Skelly” Spence, Albert “Apple Gabriel” Craig and Lascelle “Wiss” Bulgin
Skelly and Apple Gabriel are now deceased and thus in technical terms, ending the music band’s reign.
I grew up listening to Reggae music much of my younger years.
My mother was a UB40 and Lucky Dube fan.
In my teenage years, while I started off with the lovers rock by Beres Hammond, Glen Washington, Freddy McGregor, I’d find myself liking the conscious political ones more.
That meant Mighty Culture, Buju Banton, Bob Marley, Senzo and Ras Kimono and many many more would capture my soul much more.
After I landed in Nairobi, I discovered there was many more.
Enter the world of Israel Vibrations. I was first introduced to their song Rude boy Shuffling and It was an instant hit.
I would scour the internet, download all songs by Israel Vibrations.
As an orphan, Why Worry, Middle East, would uplift my spirits.
Backstabba would play on repeat in my earphones when I was at work to pass the day in the hardship of modern day slavery.
My first collection actually was a video documentary of the music trio visiting Israel. I still have it to this day.
Israel Vibration has a rather unique story that started with them meeting each other at a rehabilitation centre. They all suffered from childhood polio. Some twenty years after they met at the Mona Rehabilitation Clinic, they formed the group.
They became a well-known name in reggae in the 1970s at a time when Rastafarianism was starting to take hold in Jamaica. Spence and Craig were the ones that got together in Kingston and sought out Bulgin. At the time, he was working as a tailor.
They originally named themselves Israel Vibration Israel Vibrates but eventually became known as Israel Vibration. Their success as a band was not immediate either, as in the early years of their career, they mostly survived by panhandling.
Now that the wolves
Start shed clothing
There’ll be less confusion
Not much carousing
Jah, you’re the Strength of my life
– Strength of my life, lead vocalist Cecil “Skelly” Spence
The group would eventually get the opportunity to start recording via a grant from the Twelve Tribes of Israel branch of Rastafari. The opportunity came after Hugh Booth, a member of the Twelve Tribes, heard them singing and was impressed.
Israel Vibration was ready for the chance, and in 1976, their debut release was the single “Why Worry,” which did well and earned them a call-up to share the stage with the greats of the time, including Dennis Brown, Inner Circle, and Bob Marley. The track was released on the Twelve Tribes label late that same year.
In 1978 they released their first album, The Same Song, which earned them international recognition. They were able to penetrate that market because of the input of their producer at the time, Tommy Cowan.
Following some controversial moments in trying to put out their third album, the trio moved to New York in 1982 to get better health care. Eventually, they split up and tried to launch solo careers.
I last downloaded My Master’s will by Skelly and Wiss released in 2013. It’s on my phone, I listen occasionally, I wish he has left many more songs in the studio to be released as years go by. Thank You
They would get back together in 1987 and make their fourth album, Strength of my Life. In the end, the group came down to just two, Skelly and Wiss, as Apple once again left to pursue a solo career. On March 7, 2020, Apple died after suffering a stroke. Lascelle “Wiss” Bulgin is the last remaining member of the trio.
Our condolences go out to his family and fans at this time.