James Chambers, 1 April 1948, Somerton, St. Catherine, Jamaica, West Indies. One of the great popularizers of reggae music, Jimmy Cliff blazed a trail into rock that Bob Marley later followed, but without ever capitalizing on his great advantages as a singer-songwriter, nascent film star and interpreter of other peoples material. Raised by his father, Cliff first moved to Kingston in 1962 after the dream of a musical career seduced him from his studies. An early brace of singles, Daisy Got Me Crazy, with Count Boysie, and Im Sorry, for sound system operator Sir Cavalier, did little to bring him to the publics attention. His career began in earnest when a song he had written himself, Hurricane Hattie, describing the recent arrival in South America of the self-same meteorological disaster, became a local hit. He was still only 14 years old.
Cliff subsequently emerged as a ska singer for...
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