The Heptones are a Jamaican rocksteady and reggae vocal trio most active in the 1960s and early 1970s. They were one of the more significant trios of that era, and played a major role in the gradual transition between ska and rocksteady into reggae with their three-part harmonies. The Heptones were contemporaries of the Wailers and the Maytals, and every bit their equal in the mid-60’s.
The Heptones recorded for major Jamaican record producers at the time. They began their career, after one unsuccessful single for Ken Lack‘s “K Calnek” label, under the watchful eye of Coxsone Dodd of Studio One. The Heptones had a number of Jamaican hits for Studio One, beginning with “Fattie Fattie”, their first Studio One single in 1966. This began a long run of success for Coxsone, including “Pretty Looks Isn’t All”, “Get In The Groove”, “Be a Man”, “Sea of Love” (a cover of the Phil Phillips and the Twilights doo-wop classic), “Ting a Ling”, “Party Time”, and “I Hold the Handle.” They were the chief rivals to The Techniques, who recorded for Arthur “Duke” Reid, as the top vocal act of the rocksteady era.
During their five years at Brentford Road, Leroy Sibbles played bass on numerous sessions, auditioned acts, and, along with Jackie Mittoo, was the chief studio arranger. Some of their instrumental session work was released as the Soul Vendors and Sound Dimension. Amongst the rhythms featuring Sibbles’ bass playing are Alton Ellis‘ “I’m Still in Love”, “Full Up” (used on Musical Youth‘s “Pass The Dutchie”), and The Abyssinians “Satta Massagana“. The Heptones remained at Studio One well into the reggae era, where they cut tunes such as “Message from a Black Man”, “Love Won’t Come Easy”, “I Hold (Got) The Handle”, “I Love You”, and a successful cover version of “Suspicious Minds“, then went on to record with Joe Gibbs and Harry J in the early 1970s.