Thursday, March 2, 2017

Barnabas Collins: Reggae Icon

There's little else in fandom that can compete with the random weirdness of Barnabas Collins' status as a reggae pop icon. I'm not entirely sure what kickstarted the craze, but suspect it was the release of DARK SHADOWS into syndication during the mid-1970s. That would have been about the time that musician The Lone Ranger released the first of many versions of his song "Barnabas Collins." The track became a staple of reggae for years to come, later recorded by such acts as Yellowman and Dillinger.

But the mysterious Charles Hanna and the Graduates might have beat Lone Ranger to the punch by a few years with his rendition of the Robert Cobert theme from DARK SHADOWS. That distinction is a little dubious, however, because there's little information online about either Hanna or his Graduates. The song appears to be a minor release, with the most authoritative source,, listing only an approximate release date of "1971." Another source claims 1973 as the date of release, which seems more realistic.

Charles Hanna? Possibly.
Musician and producer Leonard Chin was a vocalist in the band, but you won't find any evidence of that here because DARK SHADOWS is an instrumental. As for the rest of the band? Back in 2008, the blog Distinctly Jamaican Sounds addressed this mystery, having located Mr. Hanna to Kansas, of all places. Someone claiming to be Hanna commented on a blog post at the website, appearing to confirm that he was, in fact, living in Kansas. He even posted a telephone number where he could be reached. Sadly, the website does not appear to have followed up on this lead.

"Dark Shadows" was released as a 7" single, which extended to both sides of the disc.  You can listen to the complete track below.

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