Echo Minott was born Noel Phillips in 1963 and grew up in the Maverley area of Kingston, Jamaica. He started singing from an early age, appearing in local talent contests and school concerts. His first break came in 1980 when he recorded the album “Youthman Vibration” for legendary producer Prince Jammy, at the age of 17 years. This album wasn’t released in Jamaica and appeared on the Starlight label based in London, U.K.
In 1983 he recorded the tune “Ten Miles” for his cousin, producer Errol Marshall, and this was his first tune to be released under the name Echo Minott. He then recorded his first UK hit “Man in Love” (Oak Sound) for Dillinger and an album “Echo Minott meets Sly and Robbie” (Jam-Can) for famous producer George Phang. Four of these songs were later re-packaged on an album called “Echo Minott meets Frankie Paul” (Powerhouse) and released in 1987.
Now in-demand as an increasingly popular dancehall singer, Echo began recording for many other producers and scored his first Jamaican No. 1 single with the song “Love Problems” produced by Joe Gibbs. He followed this with another hit, “Farmer Man” for the late Henry “Junjo” Lawes’ Volcano Records label.
It was in 1985 that Echo Minott finally became an international reggae star with the monster hit “Lazy Body”, released on the Black Scorpio label. It was a number one all over the reggae world and led to a whole album of versions to the rhythm. This was swiftly followed by the album “Rock and Calypso” for producer Harry J, which contained the hit singles “Lazy Body”, “Rock and Calypso” and the mighty “Uncle Sam Country”, which told of his exploits from his visit to America.
At this time, Echo was a regular member of two of Jamaica’s top sound systems Black Scorpio and King Jammys. It was with Jammys that Echo was to have his next hit singles. “Original Fat Thing” and “Put One Hand On The Key” were both enormous hits on Jammys’ new revolutionary Sleng Teng rhythm track. Hundreds of versions have been recorded to date of this rhythm but the initial Jammys’ cut remains the definitive one, with its classic versions by Wayne Smith, Tenor Saw, Johnny Osbourne and Tonto Irie.
Echo hit again in 1986 with the extraordinary track “What The Hell”, also for the Jammys label, which remained top of the Jamaican charts for three whole months. This song was the first ever to use the raggamuffin beat of today’s dancehall and was an extremely controversial song that inspired many answer versions such as the hit “Babylon Boops” by Lovindeer. This led to Echo recording his own second part “Me and My Girl Gone Back” which was another international reggae dancehall hit. King Jammys followed these hits with the “What The Hell” album and also another big hit “Emmanuel Road”, which re-worked an old Jamaican folk song in the dancehall style.
Many other hits like “Mr Ruddy” (Witty), “Follow Me” (Music Master), “Been Around The World” (Jammys), “Whip Appeal” (Black Scorpio) and “Artical Don” (Two Friends), ensured that Echo Minott remained a household name within the reggae scene for the rest of the eighties, and into the early 90s.
In 1992, Echo left Jamaica to live in New York and immediately had a massive international number one reggae hit with “Murder Weapon” (Signet), that rode a version of Shaggy’s “Oh Carolina” rhythm. When the jungle explosion hit the UK in 1993/94, Murder Weapon was re-worked in the new style and became another enormous hit again.
Returning to Jamaica in 1994, Echo had more dancehall hits with songs like “I Am Back”, once again for Jammys and “Sensitive” for Mafia and Fluxy. He then took a break from the business for a few years.