Jimmy Cliff

This very talented ska, reggae, soul, rocksteady singer and musician Jimmy Cliff was born James Chambers on July 30th, 1944 in St. James, Jamaica.  He began writing songs at the age of fourteen and spent his spare time listening to his neighbor’s sound system.  He also learned to play the guitar, the piano, congo drums and the keyboard.  Around this time his father took him to Kingston where he took up the stage name Jimmy Cliff.  His first local hit was “Hurricane Hattie” which was produced by Leslie Kong.  Other local hits include “King of Kings”, “Dearest Beverly”, “Miss Jamaica” and “Pride and Passion”. Jimmy continued to work with Leslie Kong until his death in 1971.  By 1964 Jimmy Cliff was well on his way to becoming an international superstar.  He was chosen to represent Jamaica at the World’s Fair in New York and that same year was featured in the documentary “This is Ska” alongside other Jamaican music legends such as Toots & the Maytals, Prince Buster and Byron Lee and the Dragonaires.  His first international album was “Hard Road to Travel” released in 1967.  The album had the song “Waterfall” which was a hit in Brazil and won the international song festival.  In 1969 the song “Wonderful World, Beautiful People” was a major success.  He followed that up with “Vietnam” in 1970.  Both songs were popular throughout most of the world.  Bob Dylan once said, “Vietnam is the best protest song I ever heard”.  In 1972 Jimmy Cliff starred in the movie “The Harder they Come”.  The soundtrack for the movie was a “huge success that sold well across the world bringing reggae to an international audience for the first time”.  In 1975 Mr. Cliff performed on the first season of Saturday Night Live.  He won a Grammy award in 1985 for Best Reggae album for “Cliffhanger”.  Jimmy Cliff appeared in or provided vocals for several films including Club Paradise(1986), Cocktail Soundtrack(1988), Marked for Death(1990), Cool Runnings Soundtrack(1993), The Lion King Soundtrack(1995) and Something’s Gotta Give(2003).  Jimmy was awarded the Order Of Merit in 2003.  It is the highest honor granted by the Jamaican government for Arts and Sciences to recognize his contributions to music and film in Jamaica.  He toured the U.S. and Canada extensively in the spring and summer of 2010.  Jimmy is married and has two daughters and a son.  Cliff describes himself as having a “Universal outlook on life and does not align himself with any particular movement or religion”.


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