Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Dekker (real name Desmond Dacres) was orphaned as a child. He lived in Seaforth, St Thomas, before returning to his birthplace to work as a welder.
He then turned to music. Joining The Aces, Dekker recorded his debut single, Honour your Mother and Father on the Yabba label. In Britain, it was issued via Island Records.
The group continued to release further Jamaican hits like Generosity in 1964, 007 (Shanty Town) and Jezebel, both in 1966. In total, they enjoyed twenty Jamaican chart-toppers.
In 1968 The Israelites made it to #1 in the UK and Dekker relocated to Britain to work and record.
Further success came in 1969 with It Mek and a string of ska records including You Can Get It If You Really Want and The Song We Used To Sing.
In 1971, Dekker represented Jamaica at the International Pop Song Festival in Bratislava.
Dekker endured a low spot in his career until 1975 when the reggae label Cactus re-issued The Israelites, which entered the British Top 10 again in June of that year. Sing A Little Song followed three months later returning Dekker to the public eye.
By the start of the 1980s, 2-Tone was making its presence felt, and in the hope of capitalising on this new ska revival sound, Dekker recorded an album with Rumour Records titled Black and Dekker. It was not successful.
Stiff Records signed him to record the album Compass Point. That LP bombed also.
Sporadic recording sessions and the occasional concert performance sustained Dekker’s career up to 1985 when he was declared bankrupt by a British court due to a financial breakdown between him and his management.
Then, in 1990, for the third time, The Israelites became a hit when it was used as the theme to a television commercial for Maxell tapes.
Desmond Dekker died on 25 May 2006 of a heart attack in his Surrey home. He was 64.