He popularised the use of the melodica (an instrument at that time primarily used in Jamaica to teach music to schoolchildren) in reggae music. His album King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown (1976) is often regarded as one of the most important examples of dub.
He was born in St. Andrew, Jamaica, and learned to play the organ at the Kingston College School, where an girl lent him a melodica, an instrument that fascinated him. He also met Herman Chin Loy, who after working at his cousin Leslie Kong‘s Beverley’s record shop, had set up his own Aquarius store in Half Way Tree. Swaby recorded early tracks including “Higgi Higgi”, “East of the River Nile”, “Song of the East” and “The Red Sea” between 1971 and 1973 for Chin-Loy’s Aquarius Records. Chin Loy had previously used the name Augustus Pablo generically for keyboard instrumentals recorded by Lloyd Charmers and Glen Adams, and Swaby took the name for this recording.