Jamaican musician, Jimmy Cliff is best known for introducing reggae to an international audience.
International reggae star Jimmy Cliff, born James Chambers on April 1, 1948, in St. James, Jamaica, began music as a child. In his adolescent years, he began releasing singles and finding fame in Jamaica. As a result of his role as a troubled musician in the film The Harder They Come, Cliff burst into the international music scene, where he remained for years to follow. He was in inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in March 2010.
Jimmy Cliff was born James Chambers on April 1, 1948, in Somerton District, St. James, Jamaica. He began his career and actor by writing songs while still in primary school there, and later developed his talents while at Kingston Technical High School.
While receiving his secondary education, Cliff began entering local talent contests and pursuing potential producers. By the time he was 14, Cliff had released several singles, including “Hurricane Hattle”- the hit that launched his career. Soon after, he was producing local hits regularly and garnering attention throughout his birth country.
In 1964, 16-year-old Cliff was chosen to be one of Jamaica’s representatives at the World’s Fair. He then signed with Island Records and moved to the United Kingdom. In the late 1960’s Cliff’s career took off, and he began collaborating with and receiving recognition from well-known musicians including Bob Dylan.
Cliff began acting when he was in his early 20s. He starred in, and produced much of the soundtrack for, the reggae film “The Harder They Come” as directed by Perry Henzell in 1972, which met great success around the globe, bringing reggae to an international audience for the first time. The movie was also known as one of the top college campus attractions of its era.
The soundtrack featured four songs by Cliff and songs by a number of other artists, including Desmond Dekker.
The film began reaching theatres in 1973 – the same time the Wailers’ (Peter Tosh, Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer) breakthrough international album was released. “That was an incredible one-two punch that knocked out America for Jamaican music, “reggae historian Roger Steffens told the Los Angeles Times. Ïn some ways,”he added. “The Harder They Come” was even more influential, because there were so many different artists featured on the soundtrack of the movie from the rock steady…and early reggae eras.”
Personal Life and Achievements
As his career continued to advance, Cliff took a break and travelled to Africa, where he found religion: He converted to Islam and renamed himself El Hadj Naim Bachir. He returned to performing shortly thereafter.
On October 20, 2003, the Jamaican government honoured Cliff, awarding him one of the nation’s top three honours, the Order of Merit, in recognition of his contributions to the film and music of Jamaica. He is only living musician to hold the Rock and Roll Hall Fame. Upon learning of his nomination for the induction, Cliff said, ”this is good for Cliff, good for Jamaica music and good for my country.”
In 2011 Cliff released the full length album Rebirth, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album.
Cliff has a daughter and son and lives in Jamaica.
www.sojworld.com (c) August 25, 2017