McGregor was born in
Clarendon, Jamaica on June 27, 1956. At age seven, he started singing
backup for a local ska harmony duo called the Clarendonians (naturally, with the
nickname of Little Freddie McGregor). The Clarendonians recorded for
"Coxsone" Dodd's legendary Studio
One label for a time, and when they split in the mid-'60s, McGregor teamed up with
"Fitzroy" Wilson to form a new duo,
Freddie and Fitzroy. They recorded several single sides, including "Why
Did You Do It" and "Do Good and Good Will Follow You." McGregor stayed at Studio One
for much of the '70s, working as a session drummer and backup singer
while developing his own vocal style, which owed much to smooth,
Philadelphia-style soul. He sang lead for groups like Generation Gap
and also recorded off and on as a solo act during the '70s, though
always in the singles medium. During this period, he began writing some
of his own material, including songs like "Go Away Pretty Woman,"
"Tomorrow Is Like Today," and "What Difference Does It Make."
is one of reggae's
most durable and soulful singers, with an incredibly steady career that
started all the way back in the '60s, when he was just seven years old.
Since then, he's spanned nearly every stylistic shift in Jamaican
music, from ska and rocksteady to Rastafarian roots reggae to lovers
rock (his particular specialty) to dabblings in dancehall, ragga, and
dub. Not just a singer, he wrote some of his own material, and grew
into an accomplished producer as well. McGregor's heyday was the
early '80s, when he released several high-quality albums and reached
the peak of his popularity in Jamaica and England. However, he remained
a strong presence on the reggae scene well into the new
millennium. Take a tour to his website for more Freddie!
In 1981, McGregor scored a huge hit
single with "Big Ship," which catapulted him to the front rank of
reggae stars in the immediate post-Marley era, along with Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs. His next LP arrived
in 1982, also titled Big Ship, and featured
production by Linval Thompson and musical backing
Roots Radics. It too was highly
successful, both creatively and commercially. Signing with Ras for
On Over, McGregor extended his
creative hot streak to an international audience, making a name for
himself in the U.K. and U.S. His 1984 follow-up Across the Border was a slightly
poppier effort that contained his hit reggae cover of "Guantanamera."
Continuing in this crossover vein, in hopes of surviving amid the
dancehall revolution, McGregor released All in the Same Boat in 1986; it produced
a major hit in "Push Come to Shove," which became his first U.K. chart
entry. He sparked the interest of Polydor Records, and found further
U.K. success with "That Girl" and a cover of the Main Ingredient's "Just Don't Want
to Be Lonely," which made the U.K. Top Ten in 1987.