Gardiner first came to prominence in the late 1960s when he, along with many famous Jamaican musicians, were part of the studio based group, The Upsetters. He charted solo with "Elizabethan Reggae" in 1970. Actually, he nearly did not appear at all. The story about his first hit is that, when it was released in the UK, the first copies were printed with the label incorrectly identifying Byron Lee as the performer. The reality was that he was the instrumental track's record producer.