'Tubby' was born Osbourne Ruddock on the 28th January 1941 in Central Kingston, but by early the following decade was living with his mother at 18 Dromilly Avenue, a street located in a new housing development in the Waterhouse district, situated the west of the city. As a youth, he developed an interest in Jazz and electronics, and on leaving school, studied the latter at the capital's National Technical College, where he became a model student, displaying a natural aptitude for the subject.
By his late teens, he was operating a small, but thriving electronics business in his mother's back yard, spending much of his spare time playing local dances with a compact his sound system built from whatever suitable, spare equipment he was able to find. It was also around this time that he most likely acquired the mantle of 'Tubby', although the precise meaning of the moniker, or how he came by it, is shrouded in mystery.
Over the years that immediately followed, he spent increasing amounts of time on his set, continually upgrading the equipment, which by the latter end of the Sixties had become renown locally for the clarity of its sound as well as such innovations as a reverb unit. In 1968, the recruitment of the exceptionally gifted deejay, Ewart Beckford aka U Roy served to further enhance the reputation of 'King Tubby's Home Town Hi-Fi', which soon became widely regarded as one of Kingston's leading sounds. Meanwhile, Tubby acquired a dub cutter and a two-track tape machine, which formed the basis of a primitive recording studio housed at his Dromilly Avenue home, where regular visitors included a number of innovative independent producers, most notably Edward 'Bunny' Lee, Lee 'Scratch' Perry and Winston 'Niney' Holness.
In 1972, Tubby took advantage of an upgrade at Dynamic Sounds Studio B by purchasing the discarded old four-track machine and an MCI console at a knockdown price. This new machinery provided the opportunity for the 31 year-old to experiment with sound to a degree previously unimagined in Jamaica. Now he was able to seamlessly add or fade vocal and rhythm parts, and this capability, allied with his innovative use of an echo unit and a high pass filter, resulted in him being able to push the boundaries of Reggae beyond their previously perceived limits, creating a catalogue of truly astounding works for a variety of local producers. The explosion in workload that ensued prompted the recruitment of Phillip Smart, the first of a number of young apprentices who would later benefit from the engineer's talent and experience.
By the mid-Seventies, Tubby's talents achieved international recognition after Island Records released arguably the greatest of all his works, namely 'King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown' - a sublime Dub to Jacob Miller's 'Baby I Love You So'. Also about this time, Phillip Smart left Jamaica to study electronics in America, with his position initially filled by gifted vocalist-come-engineer, Pat Kelly before a more permanent replacement was found in Lloyd James, aka Prince Jammy. Another exceptional talent, Jammy was soon handed the responsibility of running the studio on a day to day level, and this, in tandem with the wanton destruction by police of the Home Town Hi Fi resulted in Tubby increasingly easing off from his music interests to concentrate on his electronics business.
None the less, he did not abandon his musical interests altogether and occasionally mixed sessions while also continuing to educate up-and-coming sound engineers, such as Overton 'Scientist' Brown and Peter Chemist. He also constructed a larger, better equipped studio and launched the Waterhouse, Firehouse and Taurus labels, on which he issued best-selling singles by the likes of Lincoln 'Sugar' Minott, Anthony 'Red' Rose, King Everald and Conroy Smith.
His releases in fact proved so popular that by the close of the Eighties, Tubby's long-term success as a record producer seemed assured, but tragically, it was not to be. In the early hours of February 6th, 1989, he was targeted by a lone gunman, who mercilessly shot him dead outside his home at 85 Sherlock Crescent in Duhaney Park. What the future may have held in store for Tubby, one can only surmise, but while his ruthless murder deprived the world of further evidence of his exceptional talent, we can at least be thankful that for an all too brief period, he was able to create some of the most outstanding music of the Twentieth Century.