The day is September 20th, 1985 Howard “Tugsar” Johnson is born in in the small riverside city of Maypen Clarendon, Jamaica. He is the youngest of 3 boys. Growing up, music was central to his family life. His mother is a member of the local church choir, still singing today, and father is a DJ, throwing some of the hottest outdoor dance parties of the time.
Howard too, had begun his musical life at church singing choir at the age ripe of 7. But more than anything, it was Reggae music that captivated him as well as his brothers very early on. At just 12 years old, Howard could be found in the grade school washroom, the venue for his dance parties. Children would crowd in. He was the DJ, while his friends worked the hustle, accepting 3 dollar admissions to get into the party.
His eldest brother, already a recording artist, was the one to introduce him to his calling, to be a reggae dance hall artist. At 15, he started his career professionally, laying verses at the “Shack and Vibes” recording studio located in Kingston, Jamaica. This is where he would record his first song, “Flowers in the Garden” along with many others. Howard would recall long nights in studio, and even longer commutes back home to Maypen. He was hooked to the music and knew then that is all he wanted to do. “Tuggy”, Howard's childhood nickname, was soon adopted as his stage name once his popularity in the dance hall scene grew. And as a result, many artists took notice. As well as writing his own hits, he wrote for many dance hall artists and is responsible for the lyrics of over 50 recording hits to date. He continues to write for artists today.
Forward to 2005, Tuggy is 19. He enters the “Guinness Ultimate DJ battle”, a televised contest hosted by Guinness brewing company, in search for the best DJ in Jamaica. After running 10 weeks, Tuggy came out on top as the winner, with the song, “Straight Guinness”, receiving much fanfare and notoriety in the Kingston Dance Hall music scene.
Tuggy is always positive with a jovial spirit and always upbeat, full of laughter and full of life. He is continually inspired and moved by people and lives he is surrounded by, their struggles and their motivations. As well as the celebration and upbeats of Dance Hall, Tugstar strives to be a voice for those in the struggle, a voice for those who do not have one.
Tuggy, now “Tugstar”, with 17 years in the business has toured some of the biggest festivals in Jamaica, as well as the world, working with many artists to break the mold of dance hall, and bring his music across multiple genres. He remains with his finger on the pulse of modern reggae, continually working to push its sound and its message to the world stage.