Sly Dunbar was born as Lowell Fillmore Dunbar. As one-half of the Riddim Twins, Dunbar joined with bassist Robbie Shakespeare to provide the rhythm section and/or production for recordings by many reggae artists including Peter Tosh, Black Uhuru, Culture, Dillinger, Israel Vibration and U Roy.
The duo also worked with an impressive list of non-Jamaican performers including Bob Dylan, Shabba Ranks, The Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, Herbie Hancock, Maxi Priest, Cindy Lauper, KRS-One, Queen Latifah, Yoko Ono and No Doubt.
Sly Dunbar has also recorded four solo albums. "Reggae Drumsplash", the 1997 release is an encyclopedic exploration of Jamaican rhythms that includes over 840 sampled loops.
Dunbar's earliest inspiration for playing the drums was sparked while watching Lloyd Knibbs and The Skatalites on television. During a 1997 interview, he recalled, "I saw (Knibbs) playing and I thought, 'I want to be a drummer' because he's the hardest worker in the band. He's my idol! In some ways, I'm self taught but I got a lot of help from other drummers by watching them play."
Dunbar launched his musical career while still in his teens, playing with a local group, The Yardbrooms at the age of fifteen. His recording debut came in 1969.
Meeting Robbie Shakespeare, then playing bass for The Hippy Boys, in 1972, Dunbar began a life-long friendship. When Shakespeare was asked to recommend a drummer for a recording session for producer Bunny Lee's Aggrevators, he remembered Dunbar. Following the session, Dunbar and Shakespeare agreed to keep working together.
Sly and Robbie's album "Friends", received a Grammy award as "Best Reggae Album" in 1999.
The Jamaican government has honored him with the Order of Distinction, and in 1999 he received a Grammy for the CD "Friends" (East/West).
Dunbar's latest release "The Dub Revolutionaries Meet The Mad Professor" (2004) reflects his work in the classic Jamaican "Dub" style.