Johnson was born in 1943 in Kendal, Hanover Parish, Jamaica and attended Kendal School with Lee Perry, their mothers also being friends. At the age of sixteen he moved to Kingston to live with an aunt, and began hanging around recording studios, where he was taught guitar by Ernest Ranglin
In 1966 he returned home for Haile Sellasie’s visit to Jamaica and became a committed Rastafarian from that point on. Being a family man Johnson always cared for his 8 children; Marie Johnson, Christopher Johnson, Miriam Johnson, Tamara Johnson, Negus Johnson, Coretta Johnson, Garette Johnson and Queeny Johnson.
In 1977 he met Perry again, who after hearing Johnson play “Row Fisherman Row”, invited him to his Black Ark studio to record the song. Johnson arrived at the studio with Cedric Myton and they would record together as The Congos for the next few years, his tenor complementing with Myton’s falsetto and Watty Burnett’s Baritone.
When the Congos split up, Johnson began recording as Congo Ashanti Roy, and worked with Adrian Sherwood on his Singer and Players project and Prince Far I, the latter producing his debut solo album, Sign of the Star in 1980. Johnson contributed to Far I’s “Showcase inna suitcase” album the same year. A second album, Level Vibes, followed in 1984, this time produced by Sherwood.
In 2003, Johnson moved into production and set up his own Lion’s Den recording studio in Portmore, and his own Koto Koto Music label. In 2004, The Congos, including Johnson, announced plans to tour the world, and since then they tour the world non-stop.
In 2009 The Congos met Bregt “Braithe” De Boever and plans where made for an album on The Lost Ark Music Label. In 2011 ” We Nah Give Up” was released on limited edition vinyl.The Album sounds like the foundation reggae sound from the seventies. Check our press section for reviews.
In 2012 Roydel Johnson came to Belgium to record a new Solo Album. While he was in Belgium to do some recordings in the Lost Ark Studio, Pura Vida and Ashanti did a small tour. The tour was very nice and the people just love the vibes!
In Octobre 2012 Congo Ashanti Roy & Pura Vida released the album Hard Road | LAM 002 The album was released on 180 grams Red Vinyl Limited edition.
In March 2013 Congo Ashanti Roy is coming to Belgium again for the Hard Road Tour & to spend lots of time at the Lost Ark Studio working on new Lost Ark productions!