The Honourable Jimmy Cliff, OM is a Jamaican ska and reggae singer, musician and actor. He is the only currently living musician to hold the Order of Merit, the highest honour that can be granted by the Jamaican government for achievement in the arts and sciences.
Jimmy Cliff was born James Chambers in St. James, Jamaica on April 1, 1948. He adopted the stage name “Cliff” to acknowledge the heights he intended to climb. Jimmy Cliff was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. Cliff is the second reggae artist, after Bob Marley, to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But he actually preceded Marley in bringing reggae to the international stage, appearing in and performing his songs for the 1972 film The Harder They Come.
Jimmy Cliff was reggae’s first international star and remains its greatest living ambassador, having taken the music of Jamaica to all corners of the world. He had hits outside of Jamaica as far back as 1969, when “Wonderful World, Beautiful People” reached Number Six in Britain and Number 25 in the U.S.
His first recordings date back to 1962, and two of his songs (“Ska All Over the World,” “Trust No Man”) were included on a 1964 anthology, The Real Jamaican Ska, released in the U.S. on Epic Records. Hooking up with legendary Jamaican producer Leslie Kong, Cliff unleashed a string of hit singles in his homeland throughout the Sixties, including “Hurricane Hattie,” “Miss Jamaica” and “King of Kings.” He was among those chosen to represent Jamaica at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York.
Cliff is best known among mainstream audiences for songs such as "Sitting in Limbo", "You Can Get It If You Really Want", "We all are one" and "Many Rivers to Cross" from the soundtrack to The Harder They Come which helped popularize reggae across the world and his covers of Cat Stevens' "Wild World" and Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" from the film Cool Runnings. Outside of the reggae world, he is probably best known for his film appearance in The Harder They Come.
In addition to writing and singing those songs, Cliff starred in the film The Harder They Come. It was the first feature film written and directed by a Jamaican and shot on location using an all-native cast. Cliff played a budding singer from the Jamaican countryside who gets caught up in the renegade world of NO NO WORD!!! and violence in the slums of Kingston. The movie became a huge success in Jamaica and a cult classic elsewhere. The soundtrack, released in America on Chris Blackwell’s Mango label (a subsidiary of his Island Records) in 1973, proved to be a steady seller, though it didn’t enter Billboard‘s album chart until March 1975 – still a full two months before Bob Marley and the Wailers cracked the U.S. charts with Natty Dread.
• Hard Road to Travel (January 1968) • Jimmy Cliff (December 1969) • Wonderful World, Beautiful People (1970) • Goodbye Yesterday (1970) • Another Cycle (September 1971) • The Harder They Come (1972) • Unlimited (August 1973) • Struggling Man (June 1974) • House of Exile (December 1974) • Brave Warrior (1975) • Follow My Mind (November 1976) • In Concert: The Best of Jimmy Cliff (1976) • Give Thanx (1978) • I Am The Living (July 1980) • Give the People What They Want (September 1981, with the Compass Point All Stars) • Special (July 1982) • The Power and the Glory (October 1983) • Cliff Hanger (August 1985) • Club Paradise (1986) • Hanging Fire (March 1988) • Images (October 1989) • Save Our Planet Earth (October 1990) • Breakout (1992) • Higher and Higher (May 1998) • Journey of Lifetime (1998) • Humanitarian (June 1999) • Fantastic Plastic People (2002) • Black Magic (2004)
Genre: Reggae, Ska Similar Artists: Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Toots & The Maytals Similar Bonnaroo Artists: Rebolution
Physical Reaction/Live Show
I saw Jimmy Cliff at the Climate Rally on the National Mall this year. He did three songs, Pressure Drop, You Can Get It If You Really Want and Many Rivers To Cross (with John Legend). It was beautiful and I can’t wait to see a full set ON THE FARM. He is a perfect fit for Bonnaroo and my most anticipated 2010 artist.
A Thieve's Parade 2/24 Conspirator 2/26 Kevin Smith 3/11 Keller 3/17 Papadosio 3/18 JJ Grey 3/25 Bela Fleck/Edgar Meyer 3/26 Toubab Krewe 3/27 O'Death 4/11 Budos Band 4/22 EOTO 4/28 Summer Camp 5/6-29 All Good