I want to immerse myself with the elders ... they are the roots, they have trod this path before and they know it better than we. So who better to learn from?" Although Droop Lion didn’t know it at the time, he was charting his own destiny with those daring words.
The answer to that almost rhetorical question was, The Gladiators, hailed as one of the most exciting groups from the golden age of roots with extraordinary albums to their name from Coxsone Dodd's Studio One and also on the English recording label Virgin.
Come 2014, and Droop Lion, the singer who possesses a voice that is twice his own size and weight, is touring Europe as lead singer for this enduring roots reggae band which had its genesis in the year 1966. Over the decades, The Gladiators have blazed trails, toured consistently and have proven to be a favourite on the big reggae festivals across the length and breath of Europe. Interestingly, Droop Lion is the nephew of original Gladiators member David Webber, and, naturally he grew up on songs from their catalogue.
However, he never, ever dreamed that one day he would be so favoured to not only go on tour, but to also record an album with this legendary group, doing classics such as Bongo Red, Hello Carol, Jah Works and Burning and Looting. In February of this year, Droop Lion completed 25 sold-out dates across Europe as lead singer of The Gladiators and he recently returned to Jamaica from his second tour with the group. With this being festival season in Europe, the brief break lasted one and half weeks, after which they left for Europe last Wednesday, for another relentless round of shows.
The 15-city tour officially kicked off on July 25 and saw the group doing shows in three different countries - France, Spain and Belgium - one after the other, with other dates including countries such as Germany, Italy and Poland. “It’s just Jah works,” Droop Lion said of the fruitful merger between him and The Gladiators and the Clive Hunt/Cabel Stephenson-produced album entitled The Gladiators Featuring Droop Lion – Back On Tracks.
“Gladiators is a brand that has been around for 50 years and I have to give them the thumbs up for embracing me without hesitation and allowing me to experience first-hand the real meaning of partaking in the feast of the elders,” he continued. He confessed that being on stage in Europe and feeling the intense vibrations of singing a Gladiators song, followed by a Droop Lion song is an experience that has brought him to tears.
“I am just overcome with emotions and the tears just spill forth. Tears of gratitude for the many layers of goodness that this union has uncovered, tears of pure joy and tears of love,” said the musical ambassador who is signed to Free People Entertainment.