This originally ran in Reggae Report in 1995.
Righteousness in the Midwest
During the Mystic Revealers' recent U.S. tour, a few
off days were spent in St. Louis, Missouri, where this most
promising of reggae bands brought their righteousness to
In an interview with leader Anthony Wilmont, better
known as Billy Mystic, discussion ranged from his band and
family to his deep Rastafarian beliefs. As many fans are
unfamiliar with this band's history, we started with that
"We formed in de late '70s," stated Mystic in his
captivating and inflecting patois. "Me an Lion an Patch an
Benny an Jahward an Bobby, together as kids in school, ya
know. Jamming and calling ourselves de 'Revealers.' I played
de flute - I didn't start playing guitar til I was 21 - and
den we came up wit 'Mystic' to describe de Revealers. In
Jamaica, if you're a leader of a band dey identify you wit
dat band, y'understand? Like Tabby's de lead singer of de
Diamonds, so dey call him Tabby Diamond. Billy is de leader
of Mystic Revealers, so dey call I 'Billy Mystic.'"
This extremely articulate, intelligent and, without a
doubt, "mystical" Jamaican then proceeded to talk about his
family and musical influences.
"I mon born the 25th of February," confided Mystic. "I
have two brothers, Freddie and Greg, both older dan myself.
I'm de wash belly. My parents were journalists and growing
up in Bull Bay - eight miles out a de heart of Kingston - I
was filled wit reggae. But being so close to America brought
us exposure to foreign music; Aret'a Franklin, Stevie
Wonder, all dem t'ings. But I personally loved music from
Dennis Brown, Israel Vibration, Diamonds, Freddie McGregor,
Hugh Mundell, Barrington Levy, Sugar Minott, Gregory Isaacs,
Linvall Thompson, ya know, dem kind of music. Dey were de
pop music of de time."
When questioned about Bob Marley, he continued.
"Yeah, respect goes out to Bob, he got de benefit of
Island Records' publicity and was de first one out of de
T'ird World. But in de late '70s he wasn't very popular mon,
him go a foreign, moved outta Jamaica, sort of like us right
now. Ya see, it's because our music has taken an
international turn. We are not defined strictly by de
Jamaican music environment. We're making our own sounds, not
in de confines of de accepted musical constraints dat
Jamaica music is under now. We're not afraid to make melodic
changes and experiment."
Mystic was obviously referring to his band's latest
release, the exceptional 'Space and Time,' but he also
touched upon his first two discs, 'Young Revolutionaries'
and 'Jah Works.'
"'Young Revolutionaries,' de songs, ya know, dey always
be good songs, but de album was not supposed to be released.
It was a demo, we didn't really have de time or funds to
make it meet our standards, but we plan to re-record dem
songs, definitely in de future, yah mon. Modernize dem.
"Ya see, Mystic Revealers consists of many parts: de
band of course, and Mystic Reggae Sound which is our
publishing company, and Carry On Productions and RAS
records, which is our distribution company. Dat is our
entity. So we work wit t'ese people and based upon de
success of de last album ['Jah Works'] and de videos dat we
did, we got more time in de studio to work on de t'ird
album, y'understand? We could book de studio for a week, not
t'ree days and four hours a day, but for a week. We just set
up de whole band in de studio, set up everyt'ing. And when
we caught a nice groove we'd run de tape.
"All de tracks, except 'I and I,' were done live in de
studio. Den we went back and if we wanted to fix a likkle
part somewhere, we did. So we're really happy with dis one
because it's de Mystic Revealers live, not just some
computer sequenced tracks like t'ose which dominated de last
"Wit 'Space and Time,' we've all become better
musicians. When we started we were really just learning to
play de instruments. Wit dis new one, we have more
experience and it reflects itself in de caliber of de
Mystic's songs continue to be infectious and well
written and he discussed his songwriting and concise lyrical
"When I write I want my songs to be songs dat you can
just play guitar and sing dem. To be of dat quality,
y'understand? Play any of my songs just like a folk song,
with an acoustic guitar. Songs wit a message, get right to
de point and just say exactly what you mean.
"Being around people eloquent in der speech - my
parents and others - always selecting de proper word. So you
get a wider vocabulary because you hear dem using more
words, because dem are journalists and on der desk is a
Thesaurus and a Dictionary.
"I also went to Agriculture College for t'ree years.
People at dat college end up running de big industries in
Jamaica. De people had a certain intellectual level and all
dese t'ings helped shape me songwriting skills, ya know?"
We went on and discussed the seriousness of his lyrics
and the message that he's trying to spread.
"Read de lyrics to all dem albums," said Mystic, "and
come to your own conclusions of what our message is. It's
not good for me to tell you what it is, but I am confident
de songs will speak for demselves, y'understand? And I'm
sure dey will lead you not in de path of destruction, but in
de path of righteousness, because dat is what de music is
trying to show."
"Don't sit and idle, pick up your Bible,
read one chapter
From cover to cover
and you'll discover
live and how to pray"
- 'Rasta Man'
Even though Mystic is the leader of one of reggae's
most critically-acclaimed bands, he truly remains humble.
"Ya know, I don't put myself on no pedestal, I realize
I'm just a mortal likkle mon, me no try to make myself
greater dan I am, me just glorify God who me know is de
greatest. The nation of de world should pay homage to HIM
and bow down and accept HIM, de King of Kings, de Lord of
Lords, de conquering lion of de Tribe of Judah. Direct
descendant of King David, seated on de t'rone of King
Solomon, y'understand? Me just a simple likkle mon who
realize dese t'ings from de Bible.
"I am just one of many Rastaman. It just so happens dat
I am de one who gets de vibes due to my background;
educationally, socially, spiritually, even genetically. And
it encourages me to really express myself and to take it
upon myself and to go out on de road and go t'ru Babylon and
face all t'ings."
When the Revealers do go on the road, they're one of
the most powerful reggae bands to ever take the stage with
Mystic's athletic movement, charismatic presence and
impassioned delivery the focal point.
"Yeah, I'm de focal point of de t'ing, in certain
ways," agreed Mystic. "No one wants to see some guy scared
on stage. Dey want to see someone who believe in what dem
say, who can stand up and defend it. Dat why a woman love
you when you defend somet'ing and a man admire you cos you
At this point, the phone rang, and after Mystic
answered with the word "fire," he talked lovingly to his
wife and daughter calling from Jamaica.
"I have four children mon, and me t'ink one is on de
way, but me wife not certain. Me have t'ree boys and the
youngest one is a daughter. The oldest is 12 years old."
If fatherhood and international touring isn't enough,
this talented artist, whose hobbies include surfing and
spear fishing, is also a fixture on Jamaica's #1 TV show,
'Royal Palm Estates.'
"I play CC, an illegitimate child of a big plantation
owner. My mother is a housekeeper and I don't realize dat
mon is my father. I'm not really an actor, it just so
happens dat dis part corresponds wit me natural personality,
so I can more or less be myself. I play a Rastaman, a
musician. The only difference is CC is not really as devout
a Rastaman as Billy Mystic is. He's more influenced by
society and his desire to become a reggae star."
As our conversation wound down, I mentioned how I hoped
the masses would soon realize the greatness of the Revealers
and that a slot on a future HORDE tour (similar to Ziggy
Marley this past year) could possibly be the break needed to
give this crucial band the recognition it deserves.
"If dat is de will of Jah, it will happen,"
contemplated Mystic. "It's all up to Jah. Maybe we are just
paving de way for de person who is coming to do it.
"It don't have to be us. We can be de inspiration to
dat person who does it. Den dey say, when dey reach dat
level, dat de Mystic Revealers was der inspiration. And if
dat is my glory to be de inspiration, den dat would be good
enough for me. Ya see, it don't have to be me.
"As long as I am doing what I do and I believe in what
I do, dat is a joy to me. To be able to love music, write
music and de music dat I write tek me around de world and
meet people and speak t'ings dat I can listen to afterwards
and feel proud dat dat is the stand dat I took and dat is
what I belived in and dat is what I defended."
"Your life is there before you, your time is moving on.
just a little while it's gonna seem your life is gone.
take your chance and make it into something that will grow,
don't let the evening find you with nothing there to
show...for your time."
- 'Space and Time'
Mystic is a modern day prophet, sincerly spreading his
message of hope and inspiration throughout the world. If you
take your music seriously, check out his band's records, and
by all means, if you have the chance to see the Mystic
Revealers perform live, jump at the opportunity.
As the I-Threes sang years ago in their tribute to Bob
Marley, "Many Are Called, Few Are Chosen." Billy Mystic,
without a doubt, has proven that he too belongs in that
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