Jimmy Cliff has continued to carry the musical torch for his country, as he spreads the message of love and harmony through his music to people all around the globe. Cliff who was recently inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is no stranger to the world stage as he has contributed to the popularity of this “drum and base” rhythm called reggae music.
Jimmy Cliff born James Chambers in St. James parish of Jamaica started his career as early as 1962. He said that he adopted the stage name “Cliff” to acknowledge the heights he intended to climb in his musical career.
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. In 1969he had his first international chart stopper entitled "Wonderful World, Beautiful People" which rose to the number 6 spot on the British charts and number 25 in the US.
Jamaican superstar reggae ambassador Cliff biggest break came in the seventies, when he wrote the album, which became the sound track to the critically acclaimed movie called the Harder They Come. Other songs from that album included "You Can Get It If You Really Want" and the mega hit "Many Rivers To Cross," which enjoyed success both in the U.S. and internationally. The Harder They Come was released in 1973 on the Mango Label, a subsidiary of the Chris Blackwell owned Island Records. Blackwell mentored Cliff from the business standpoint and fostered a great relationship with the young reggae star.
In addition to writing and singing on The Harder They Come album, Cliff also showcased his acting skills, as he starred in the movie of the same name. The Harder They Come story line focused on Cliff, a young singer growing up Jamaica who got caught up in the rouge life of drug and crimes. The movie won rave reviews from audience all around the global and a play of the same name is now playing and currently on tour in London.
Over the past four decades, Cliff has gained more popularity, especially in a time when reggae music has evolved to a more commercial form with the various trends in the music development. Cliff has stayed true to his brand and well written lyrics, preserving the Jimmy Cliff brand seems to be an easy task for Cliff who credits his influence to rock and roll and other genre, but he contends that he remains true to his reggae roots of "drum and base".
So as the music insiders and fans alike came out on Monday, March 15, 2010 to witness this year's induction ceremony, it was the time for Jimmy Cliff to join his fellow country man and Reggae’s Buffalo Soldier , Bob Marley in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Reggae music thanks you Jimmy Cliff for four decades plus of soul searching music. Other inductees included Iggy Popp, Otis Blackwell Jr., the Hollies, ABBA, Jesse Stone. Speaking at the podium, Cliff said of reggae, "This was a new music form, with a new culture." As the New York Times reports, Cliff then listed off a few other rock and roll icons who influenced his music and his career, and said that walking into the Hall was just "another stepping stone to higher heights." He then performed some of his biggest hits onstage, including 'Many Rivers to Cross,' 'You Can Get It If You Really Want,' and, of course, 'The Harder They Come,' with Wyclef Jean, who presented him.