The Origin of the Word “Ska”

There are various theories about how the word “ska” came to be. Here is a fascinating discussion that tries to get to the heart of the matter.

Buster the Ska Doggie

Buster the Ska Doggie

Buster the Ska Doggie was born on July 4th, 2008 when The Uptones released their epic Skankin' Foolz Unite! album. Jesse Michaels drew Buster for the record cover and Buster leaped off of it and started dancing around. Before long Buster had amassed a massive collection of ska records and friends and has been to every single ska show on earth, usually attending at least 100 around the world, all at the same time. Don't ask how he does it. Buster blogs at and you also can find him on FB and Twitter. W00f!


  1. I had just been talking about that with Toby of the Georgetown Orbits ( ), he is quite knowledgeable on the subject and told me this.

    >> Yo- the history is a bit fuzzy. A few people claim to have coined the
    >> term in the late 50’s/early 60’s. Ultimately, the word itself has no
    >> meaning. Cluett Johnson was a bass player who used the word
    >> ‘Skavoovie’ as an expression of greeting and joy. Coxsone Dodd also
    >> claims to have invented the word when instructing Ernest Ranglin on
    >> how to play the sound on guitar (play it like ‘ska…ska…ska…’).
    >> The Skatalites name came a few years later- they were brainstorming
    >> names, came up with the Orbits (hence our name), then the Satellites.
    >> Someone said ‘we play Ska, we’ll call ourselves the Ska-tallites’, and
    >> it stuck.
    >> Some REALLY great books on the subject are ‘This is Reggae Music’ by
    >> Lloyd Bradley and ‘Solid Foundation’ by David Katz. They go into great
    >> depth on the early days of Ska and the music and political scenes in
    >> Jamaica. I highly recommend checking them out.

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