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Jimmy Cliff

It's one of the music industry's great ironies that today, outside of reggae circles, Jimmy Cliff is perhaps better known for his film appearances than his music. Even after a string of hits, the singer never quite managed to break into the mainstream, although he seemed poised for international stardom during the late '60s/early '70s. The singer was born in St. James, Jamaica, on April 1, 1948, with the less prosaic name James Chambers. His talent was evident from childhood, and he began his career appearing at local shows and parish fairs. Feeling ready for the big time at the age of 14, he moved to Kingston and took the surname Cliff to express the heights he intended on reaching. Cliff recorded two unsuccessful singles before he was spotted by Derrick Morgan, who brought him to Leslie Kong. His first single for the budding producer, "Hurricane Hattie," was an instant hit. Unusually, Cliff remained with Kong until the producer's death; most Jamaican artists flit from studio to studio. The singer's loyalty was rewarded, however, by a string of follow-up hits. In the early years, the pair helped set the ska scene alight, both in Jamaica and in Britain, where the singer's singles were picked up by Island Records. "Miss Jamaica," "King of Kings," "One Eyed Jacks," and "Pride and Passion" have since become classics of the original ska era.

By 1964, Cliff's star was so bright that he was selected as one of Jamaica's representatives at the World's Fair. A successful residency in Paris followed, and Island head Chris Blackwell eventually convinced the singer to relocate to Britain. The label itself was in the process of shifting away from Jamaican music and into progressive rock, and thus Cliff began composing songs with an eye to cross over into that market.

It was a risky plan, but ultimately a successful one. In 1968, Cliff released his debut album, the excellent Hard Road, and won the International Song Festival with "Waterfall," a song that became a smash hit in Brazil. He swiftly moved to that country to take advantage of his success, but even greater heights were in the offing. The following year, "Wonderful World, Beautiful People" proved to be his international breakthrough. The single soared to number six on the British charts, and charmed its way into the Top 25 in the States. The song's anti-war follow-up, "Vietnam," proved to be less popular, even if Bob Dylan called it the best protest song he'd ever heard. Regardless, Cliff's new album, 1969's Wonderful World, was critically acclaimed, and saw the singer starting to build a following amongst the AOR crowd.

The title track, a cover of Cat Steven's "Wild World," was another smash in 1970, and Desmond Dekker took Cliff's own "You Can Get It if You Really Want" to number two in Britain. And then tragedy struck. Leslie Kong, who had continued to oversee Cliff's career during this entire period, died unexpectedly of a heart attack in August 1971. The singer was at a loss, as he'd grown up under the producer's wing and was abruptly forced to fend for himself. Another Cycle, which arrived later that year, was proof that Cliff was beginning to get his career back on track. One of the last projects Kong had undertaken was overseeing the soundtrack to the movie The Harder They Come. Produced and written by Perry Henzell, this powerful film featured Cliff in the leading role, and upon its release swiftly became an underground classic. The soundtrack, which boasted a clutch of Cliff's own compositions, was an equally seminal record.

This should have pushed the singer into the mainstream, but Island dropped the ball and turned their attention to Bob Marley instead. The timing was also off in the U.S., where the movie didn't see release until 1975. Cliff left Island's roster and signed to Reprise in the U.S. and EMI in the U.K., but fared no better on either label. 1973's Unlimited, 1974's Struggling Man, and the following year's Brave Warrior were unable to sustain the success of Another Cycle, never mind improve upon it. During this time, Cliff converted to Islam and traveled to Africa in search of his roots, and his newfound religious devotion began to heavily influence his music. In 1975, with the release of The Harder They Come in the U.S., Cliff's second album for the year, Follow My Mind, immediately grabbed America's attention and became his first album to reach into the bottom of the chart. Reprise then decided it was time for a greatest-hits collection, although this would be accomplished via a live album. Rolling Stones' producer Andrew Loog Oldham was brought in to oversee the project, and Cliff was sent out on the road to tour and record. What the label received was one of Cliff's most ferocious albums to date, Live: In Concert. The singer was not ready to wallow in nostalgia, and throughout the rest of the decade he continued releasing albums that were thoroughly modern in sound and fierce in delivery.

Cliff ended his relationship with Reprise in the new decade with 1981's "Give the People What They Want, and moved to Columbia. He formed a new backing band, Oneness, and embarked on a tour of the U.S. with Peter Tosh; there was also a fabulous performance at Reggae Sunsplash that year. 1983's The Power and the Glory inaugurated his partnership with Kool & the Gang, and the album was nominated for a Grammy. Its follow-up, Cliff Hanger, would win the award in 1985. However, 1989's Hanging Fire became his last effort for Columbia, although the singer continued to release material in both Jamaica and the U.K. During this period, Cliff also co-starred in the movie Club Paradise. He returned to the American charts in 1993 with his cover of "I Can See Clearly Now," from the soundtrack for Cool Runnings, which glided into the Top 20. More singles and albums followed, and the singer remained a potent musical force. A comeback album of sorts, Black Magic, which featured duets with high profile stars like Sting, Joe Strummer, Wyclef Jean and others, appeared from Artemis Records in 2004. In 2012 he partnered with Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong for Rebirth, a nostalgic return to form. ~ Jo-Ann Greene
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: The Kcrw Session

1. Trapped (Live)

2. Guns Of Brixton (Live)

3. World Upside Down (Live)

4. Wonderful World, Beautiful People (Live)

5. You Can Get It If You Really Want (Live)

6. Children's Bread (Live)

7. Many Rivers To Cross (Live)

8. I Can See Clearly Now (Live)

9. One More (Live)


Track List: Rebirth

1. World Upside Down

2. One More

3. Cry No More

4. Children's Bread

5. Bang

6. Guns Of Brixton

7. Reggae Music

8. Outsider

9. Rebel Rebel

10. Ruby Soho

11. Blessed Love

12. Ship Is Sailing

13. One More (Alternate Version)


Track List: Sacred Fire

1. Guns Of Brixton

2. World Upside Down

3. Ruby Soho

4. Ship Is Sailing


Track List: Black Magic

1. I Want I Do I Get (feat. Spice)

2. Dance (feat. Wyclef Jean)

3. Jamaica Time

4. People (feat. Sting & Tony Rebel)

5. Fantastic Plastic People

6. Love Comes (feat. Annie Lennox & Hawk Eye)

7. Black Magic

8. This World Is Yours (feat. Tessane Chin)

9. Terror (September 11th)

10. Over The Border (feat. Joe Strummer)

11. War In Jerusalem

12. (Ooh La, La, La) Let's Go Dancin' (feat. Kool & The Gang & Bounty Killer)

13. The City

14. Take Your Time (feat. Yannick Noah)

15. No Problems Only Solutions

16. Good Life


Track List: Jimmy Cliff: The Ultimate Collection

1. Wonderful World, Beautiful People

2. Come Into My Life

3. Vietnam

4. Wild World

5. Hard Road To Travel

6. You Can Get It If You Really Want It

7. Bongo Man

8. The Harder They Come

9. Many Rivers To Cross

10. Sitting In Limbo

11. Struggling Man

12. If I Follow My Mind

13. The News

14. Sooner Or Later

15. Give The People What They Want

16. Shelter Of Your Love

18. I Can See Clearly Now


Track List: Super Hits

1. We All Are One

2. Reggae Nights

3. Peace Officer

4. Roots Woman

5. Hitting With Music

6. Now And Forever

7. Hanging Fire

8. She Was So Right For Me

9. Special

10. Arrival


Track List: Unlimited

1. Under The Sun, Moon & Stars

2. Fundamental Reggae

3. World Of Peace

4. Black Queen

5. Be True

6. Oh Jamaica

7. Commercialization

8. The Price Of Peace

9. On My Life

10. I See The Light

11. Rip-Off

12. Poor Slave

13. Born To Win


Track List: Follow My Mind

1. Look At The Mountains

2. The News

3. I'm Gonna Live, I'm Gonna Love

4. Going Mad

5. Dear Mother

6. Who Feels It, Knows It

7. Remake The World

8. No Woman, No Cry

9. Wahjahka Man

10. Hypocrites

11. If I Follow My Mind

12. You're The Only One


Track List: Music Maker

1. Brother

2. I Want To Know

3. You Can't Be Wrong & Get Right

4. House Of Exile

5. Foolish Pride

6. No. 1 Rip-Off Man

7. Long Time No See

8. I've Been Dead 400 Hundred Years

9. Look What You've Done To My Life, Devil Woman

10. Music Maker

11. My Love Is Solid As A Rock

12. Money Won't Save You


Track List: Anthology

Disc 1

1. Miss Jamaica

2. Hurricane Hattie

3. King Of Kings

4. Waterfall

5. Time Will Tell

6. Wonderful World, Beautiful People

7. Come Into My Life

8. Hard Road To Travel

9. Vietnam

10. Many Rivers To Cross

11. Sufferin' In The Land

12. Use What I Got

13. You Can Get It If You Really Want

14. Let Your Yeah Be Yeah

15. Wild World

16. Bongo Man

17. Sitting In Limbo

18. Goodbye Yesterday

19. The Harder They Come (Reprise)

20. Trapped

Disc 2

1. Struggling Man

2. Better Days Are Coming

3. Sooner Or Later

9. I Am The Living

10. Love Again

11. What Are You Doing With Your Life

12. Shelter Of Your Love (Single Version)

13. Give The People What They Want


Track List: One More (Single)

1. One More


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His show is also good
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Fuk n legend da best
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So awesome
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Love this man
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You are not blind Jimmy bro.
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The rain is gone!!
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Hey Pandora u made my day. I am only 4 days old on this site, but u guys are superb!
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Commercializ a t i o n : Great song, great lyrics
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I'm surprised --The harder they Come ...album isn't listed
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The Price of Peace: The Price of Peace INDEED. Man.
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World of Peace: EXACTLY. Thank you. :-) PEACE, LOVE, AND HAVE FUN.
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Reggae good for soul
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Your gonna learn today
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Really enjoy the songs and music of Millie Small
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J boog

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Jimmy always makes me smile. :-D
He never got the global props he deserves. Incredible how if you play a Jimmy Cliff song ANYWHERE in the world people will either recognize it or gather round to listen. Powerful stuff. A favorite since childhood it's only recently that I really get it
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cheri.rickar d 1 9 6 4
This song was an unusual like for my now passed away father, but he claimed it as his fav. I guess in hindsight he endured many sorrows and hardships must have been a window to his optimistic personality.
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Amazing uplifting song
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Remake The World... Remake The World... Remake The World... Yes! Thank you Jimmie, Thank you, you are brilliant Jimmie Cliff... ,Spencer
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I wonder why Remake the World is not conveniently available for playing? It is a great song and I want to have it performed in my educational documentary, Equipoise, The Billion Dollar Cure! Individual Responsibili t y . . . Send me a copy if you have one and permit me to play it for free. Thank you, God Bless, Spencer
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Than you . Jimmy Clifff I can now see clearly.
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Heard Mr.Cliff once in a movie 10 yrs ago and NEVER forgot his name AWESOME this guy is great now and for ever!
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Love you jimmy this mother f**ker rocks he lays it down
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Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed in the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will appear on the screen in big letters. This is so scary because it actually works.
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sorry this did not work but thought better safe than sorry
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Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed in the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will appear on the screen in big letters. This is so scary because it actually works.
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oh wow just realized I sing this DAILY
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Jimmy has a great body of work !Love to see comments from people new to jimmy. The soundtrack to his movie the harder they come is epic. Hard road to follow is gold

This is why pandora rocks :-D
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my whole family love your music young and old......... . .
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Jimmy cliff always speak to the heart ,brother you did it your way . You never make any body ride you rip off man . Who the shoe fit.
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Jimmy Cliff all day!!!!!! 1luv
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Listening to J Cliff on pandora. How do I learn more of him and his music? I m 66yrs young and I just remembered how to Jam again like yesterday!!
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One of the best musicians. The lyrics to his music are just out of this world. He will always remain one of my favorite artists.
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welllll welllll how long LORD, HOW LONG B FORE DA REDEMPTION CELEBRATION, WHEN DA FEAST OF TRUMPETS, GOD sounds HIS FIRST, then da angels, n us bitting da oz one ozone, not too much long
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Asi que la condicion de su estado espiritual esta super delicado.... .
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pls take it offf,!!!!!!! u know ella me mata sil lee su nombre en esta pagina publica, este ano si se murio su padre, su -ssss novios amantes, que nadie ni ninguni ha venido a su rescaye, no negocio, es testigo de una matanza en la calle de oakland donde vivia no hace mucho, asi que refreso al infierno donde todavia vive su madre, ilegal, elegal ha sido la categoria de sus vidas....
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Y ya que mencionas a Rolling en Bobo estube en la presencia de la hija de HENRY ROLLINS ella necesita ayuda como tu ya sabes lo que significa ser heredera de la ONDA MUSICAL que es lo que tu estas cantando, ella y su hermana, Angela, su hermano quien vive en Washington, Seattle, aaahhhhh not good, no money com onnnnn ALLL OF DA ROYAL IIIII TTTTESSS !!!!!!!!!!!a l l l diyien yes JAH MAN IS A REAK SHAME TO WITNESS MINE CHILDREN IN THEIR 50
, no not any one considering slavery mentality, living
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Bueno hasta que por fin estoy en el aire, y este hombre Djajiijo necesita usar esta computadora , asi que no le hagas nada por favor.....
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Go to see him tonight and can't wait! So glad he's performing again! Love, Peace, good vibes!
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julina.motul i k i
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Apparently if you copy and paste this on ten other comments in ten minuets you will have the best day tomorrow. You will either get kissed or asked out, if you break this chain then you will see a dead little girl in your room tonight in 53 minuets someone will say sorry or I love you.
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Used to sing the song can make babies.
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Best moments
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Love it
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It's a fun song
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Such a briliant performer
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