HistoryThe group formed in 1976 as the vocal trio of Joseph Hill (formerly a percussionist in Studio One house band the Soul Defenders), his cousin Albert "Ralph" Walker, and Roy "Kenneth" Dayes, initially using the name The African Disciples.
They soon changed name to Culture, and auditioned successfully for the "Mighty Two" – producer Joe Gibbs and engineer Errol Thompson.
While at Gibbs' studio, they recorded a series of powerful singles, starting with "See Dem a Come" and including the hugely successful "Two Sevens Clash" (which predicted the apocalpyse on 7 July 1977), many of which ended up on their debut album Two Sevens Clash.
The song was sufficiently powerful that many in Kingston stayed indoors on 7 July, fearing that the prophecy would come true.
A second Gibbs-produced album, Baldhead Bridge, followed in 1978, by which time the group had moved on to record for producer Sonia Pottinger.
The group entered into a long-running dispute with Gibbs over royalties to the first album.Two Sevens Clash meanwhile had become a big seller in the United Kingdom, popular with punk rock fans as well as reggae fans and boosted by the support of John Peel on his BBC Radio 1 show, and reached number 60 on the UK Albums Chart in April 1978.
This prompted Virgin Records to sign the group to its Front Line label, releasing Harder than the Rest (1978) and International Herb (1979).
Culture also released records on other labels in Jamaica, including a dub version of Harder than the Rest (Culture in Dub (1978, High Note)) and an album of different mixes of the same album (Africa Stand Alone (1978, April)).
An album recorded for Pottinger in 1979 with a working title of Black Rose remained unreleased until tracks emerged in 1993 on Trod On.Culture performed at the One Love Peace Concert in 1978.In 1981 the three singers went their own ways.
Hill carried on using the Culture name, and recorded the Lion Rock album, which was reissued in the United States by Heartbeat Records.
Hill and his new band recorded a session for long time supporter John Peel in December 1982, and the group went on to record further studio sessions for Peel in 1998 and 2002, and their performance at the Royal Festival Hall in July 1998 was broadcast on his show.
For their part, Walker and Dayes recorded a handful of songs on their own – a few of which turned up on an album titled Roots & Culture.
Hill performed at the Reggae Sunsplash festival in 1985 and in 1986 the original line-up reformed to record two highly regarded albums – Culture in Culture and Culture at Work.Several album followed in the 1990s on Shanachie Records and Ras Records, often recorded with Sly and Robbie, with Dayes leaving the group again around 1994, with Reginald Taylor replacing him.By 2001 Telford Nelson had replaced Taylor.Joseph Hill, who came to symbolize the face of Culture, died in Berlin, Germany on 19 August 2006 while the group was on tour, after collapsing following a performance.
His son, Kenyatta Hill, who had acted as the group's sound engineer on tour, performed with his father's band at the Western Consciousness show in 2007, which was dedicated to Joseph Hill, and became the lead singer of Culture; Walker and Nelson continue to provide backing vocals.In 2011, Live On was released, featuring Kenyatta's performances of his father's songs such including "Two Sevens Clash" and "International Herb".Critically considered one of the most authentic traditional reggae acts, at the time of the first Rolling Stone Record Guide publication, they were the only band of any genre whose every recording received a five-star review (of bands with more than one recording in the guide).