"Your Money Or Your Life" by Ishan People


Reggae from the 1970s Jamaica-to-Toronto scene

Jamaican music has had a huge influence on the musical history of Toronto. A lot of that is thanks to the new Canadians who helped build a thriving reggae scene here in the late 1970s. One of the most successful groups was Ishan People.

Their lead singer, Johnny Osbourne, had already made a name for himself back home in Jamaica, recording his first single at the legendary Studio One. But on the day he finished his first album, he left Jamaica behind, moving to Toronto to be with his family. Here, he sang for a bunch of bands before finally ending up as the frontman for Ishan People. They helped to pave the way for reggae artists in Toronto, playing their laid-back tunes in clubs like the Horseshoe Tavern back in the days when Queen Street was still full of notoriously angry punk music.

"Your Money Or Your Life" was one of the tracks on their debut album, Roots, which came out in 1976 and was produced by David Clayton-Thomas (who had been part of the Yorkville scene in the '60s before becoming the lead singer for Blood, Sweat & Tears).

After Ishan People broke up, Osbourne headed back to Jamaica. But he wasn't the only great reggae artist to come to Toronto: immigrants like Jackie Mittoo and Jojo Bennett made sure that our city's reggae scene would be producing amazing albums for years to come.


You can buy a copy of Ishan People's debut album here.

Listen to more from the Jamaica-to-Toronto scene here.

Listen to David Clayton-Thomas & The Bossmen here

All songs are posted to promote the artist and the history of Toronto. When possible, I've sought permission from artists, but if you're the copyright-holder and would like the song removed, please contact me here and I'll be happy to do so.   

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