Music can induce a myriad of wonderful emotions. Behind the scenes however it is a big machinery that operates just like any other business. There are those on stage and others behind the stage. Trish is one of those people who ensures the smooth running of events. For 20 years she has managed the Late Great Alton Ellis and now manages Derrick Morgan and Ken Boothe for Europe and has worked with many other artists over the 10 last years.
Originally from Italy, Trish moved to the UK in the early 70s at the age of 18. “The only singer we (Italians) knew from Jamaica back then was Harry Belafonte. When I came to London I heard Ken Booth’s ‘Everything I Own’, which reached the UK charts in 1974. Hearing this song I thought: oh, I love this, what is this? From there I found all those other singers. Initially I thought it was just this one song! Can you imagine!”
Trish’s first step into the heart of the music began after a friend of hers complemented her on her good record collection and brought her into one of the pirate stations, Traffic Jam, where she eventually got her own show. “I spent a lot of my salary on records and got all these treasures like: Freddie McKay, Slim Smith, Bob Andy and Horace Andy.
One day I happened to meet Alton Ellis. This encounter changed my life. We realised that we have a lot in common regarding our passion for the music.
Alton wanted to work in Europe (Up to this point all the big reggae festivals are happening in mainland Europe), and as I speak Italian, French, Spanish and English he wanted me on board. I thought it was a silly idea as I had never done anything like it. What I didn’t know was that an artist like Alton does not look for work, but work comes looking for him.
He offered to guide me as I was anxious of how to deal with requests. Alton told me not to worry but to tell people that I will get back to them, which allowed me to discuss deals with Alton first. If I have made a success of what I am doing it is because I had Alton behind me. I learned and progressed from there. For 10 years I only worked with Alton. He told other artists about me and so it came that I took on other people.
I also had help from people like Bunny Striker Lee. I really have to thank them. I could not have done it all by myself.”
Having worked, and still working, with so many of the legendary singers of reggae, Trish is a woman with not only passion for the music but also a deep understanding. “In my personal opinion music has changed direction. Four musicians and a good voice could produce a wonderful record. Everybody had to be on cue, as they had just one time to record it. There was no such thing as stop and do it again or computer generated riddims.
I worked with Derrick Morgan who was called One-Lick-Derrick. Artists like him, who could record as much as possible in one go where requested at that time.
I remember Alton Ellis told me that Leroy Sibbles and Bob Marley once did his backing vocals because they just happened to be in the studio. All the artists worked in one studio inspiring each other and producing so much quality music in a short period of time. Just like Motown.
Alpheus is an artist who is progressing on that level. He was the last artist who recorded with Coxsone when he was in New York. He writes his own very original songs, not only about boy meets girl, locks and Jah Rastafari, as some artists who just jump on bandwagons to appeal.
Far away from a leisurely journey Trish’s work is comprised of meticulous detail.
“I do all the logistics, itinerary, organise a band if needed, but I also make sure there is a suitable changing room and everything is set for the show. I make sure that the work offered to the artist is dealt with professionally and fairly, both towards the artist and the promoter. Over the years you’re not only working with the same artists but also with the same promoters. I am the middle person, it’s difficult at times to make both sides happy.
I also help artists to get royalties. I did it for Alton Ellis’ song ‘I’m Still In Love’. Versions by Sean Paul & Sasha, and by Althea & Donna (Uptown Top Ranking) were big hits. It’s one of Alton’s best songs and he never got any royalties for it. It happened to nearly all of the artists who recorded back in those days. All they got was the money they received on that day. Alton tried for many years to get what was due to him. It got to a stage where he wanted to forget about it all. Lawyers either refused to touch it or charged horrendous fees without achieving anything. But I am a fighter and I came across this lawyer who had worked for other musicians. It took two years before I got a deal worth thousands of pounds. Alton was shocked when I told him that we got a deal for a considerable amount of money. He was also happy knowing that the work he did back in the 60s which is widely appreciated by listeners all over the world, finally brought him the financial reward greatly overdue.”
Patrizia “Trish” de Rosa is the head of Roots Rockers Promotions based in London and over the years has worked with Laurel Aitken, Gregory Isaacs, Mikey Dread (Michael Campbell), Horace Andy, Marcia Griffiths, Bob Andy, Owen Gray, Dennis Alcapone, Dave Barker, Ansel Collins, Dawn Penn, Big Youth, The Pioneers.
Trish continues to be present with her artists every year at the major European Festivals.