Desmond Dekker was born Desmond Dacres in Kingston, Jamaica
on July 16, 1941 (some sources say either '42 or '43). Dekker knew that he wanted to sing from the time that he was a teenager but it was difficult to get a contract as a poor Jamaican at the time so he instead apprenticed as a welder.
Dekker is often referred to as "One of the most identifiable voices of rocksteady". He released his debut single in 1963, "Honour Your Mother And Father". It was produced by Leslie Kong who was the premier producer in Kingston at the time. Kong was not known for frequently scouting talent so Dekker literally forced his way into Kong's office and demanded an audition. He was subsequently given a recording session which included such distinguished players as Jimmy Cliff, Frank Coslo, Eric Morris, and Andy & Joey to wax the songs he had auditioned. Dekker, while waiting for the release of his single returned to work where he discovered that a co-worker of his was also an aspiring singer he introduced this co-worker to Kong who recorded him as well, this co-worker was Bob Marley. Dekker released a steady stream of hits including "Get Up Edina" (1964) and "King of Ska" (1965). In the late '60s Dekker and Marley both left Leslie Kong because his attention had shifted to producing Jackie Opel, a new sensation from Barbados. However on the day that Dekker was supposed to record with Duke Reid Kong begged him to return which he did. Dekker then recorded "007"(Shanty Town) with The Aces which made it to #15 on the U.K. Charts and topped the charts in Jamaica. "007" was the first in a stream of more than 20 consecutive chart toppers in Dekker's home country.
Dekker is most remembered in The States for is 1969 top ten hit "Israelites" which was released as a single under the name Desmond Dekker and The Aces. It topped the jamaican charts as well as the charts in the U.K. and the U.S.. "Israelites" was the first gold record ever issued in Jamaica.
Following the success of "Israelites," Dekker left his Aces and toured as a solo act. Solo successes include "A It Mek," a song he wrote about his little sister. Later he had another smash hit with his cover of Jimmy Cliff's "You Can Get It if You Really Want."
In the early '70s reggae started to overshadow rocksteady and Dekker's popularity began to fade but his career was revitalised in the '80s with the British ska revival he released "Black and Dekker" but was infrequently recorded after that.
Desmond Dekker was rocksteady's first superstar, responsible for carrying Jamaica's ethnic pop music to a massive white audience in both U.K. and U.S.. Credit for his impact, however, must be shared with his guardian/mentor Leslie Kong who produced all Dekker's classic recordings from 1963 until 1971 when Kong died of a heart attack at age 38.