In the 1970s, Gregory Isaacs emerged as one of the most prolific and popular recording artists in Jamaica. He released a number of self-produced singles on his African Museum (JA) record label, formed in 1973 with Errol Dunkley. Much of Isaacs' output reflected the 'conscious' themes of roots reggae, but Isaacs was equally adept at interpreting more mainstream lovers rock material. His hits include "My Only Lover", "Sinner Man" and "Mr. Cop", recorded at Lee Perry's Black Ark Studio.
A period in the 1970s with the GG's label and its record producer, Alvin Ranglin produced hits like "Border" and "Number One". Many consider his best music to be from the various producers and labels he recorded with in the 1970s, with rootsier songs like "Slave Master" from the classic Mr Isaacs album (1977), contrasting with the optimism of songs like "Love is Overdue" and the beautiful, moving "Loving Pauper".
He signed with Virgin Records and then Charisma Records in the late 1970s, and material from this period gave him a wider international audience. Songs such as "Soon Forward", "If I Don't Have You" and "Let's Dance" are often re-released on compilation albums from this period.
Isaacs signed an international release contract with Island Records, which resulted in the release of the albums Night Nurse (1982), probably his best known album among the many international music fans who had taken to reggae by then; and Out Deh! (1983). Personal problems affected him after this recording contract ended. After recording for a number of record producers, Isaacs built a strong relationship with Gussie Clarke of the Music Works label. His big comeback hit of 1988, "Rumours", was popular with both young reggae fans, and with those who had listened to his music since those classic songs from the 1970s.
In the 1990s the African Museum label continued to release all of Isaacs' music, and that of artists he produced. In 1997 Simply Red covered "Night Nurse" and had a hit with it. Isaacs continues to record and perform live in the 2000s. In 2005 Lady Saw produced another version of "Night Nurse" with her toasting over the original lyrics.