Jimmy Cliff - Basic Biography:
Jimmy Cliff was born James Chambers on April 1, 1948 in St. James Parish, Jamaica. The young Cliff had a good relationship with his parents, who, he claims on his website, remain his "hero and shero." He showed a love for music and a flair for the dramatic at an early age, performing in church, and later at local fairs and festivals. In 1962, Cliff moved to Kingston to attend a technical secondary school, and while continuing his education, began entering local talent contests and trying to catch the eye of the local record producers who were the kings of the wildly popular ska music scene.
Early Musical Career:
Catching the ear of influential producer Leslie Kong, Cliff recorded two flops before recording the hit song "Hurricane Hattie." He was 14 at the time. He continued to have a string of Jamaican hit songs for the next few years, and eventually moved to England and signed with Island Records. In 1968, Hard Road to Travel, his debut full-length album, was released internationally, and had some success in various international markets. In 1970, Cliff released Wonderful World, Beautiful People, which gained a great deal of positive attention, primarily because of the "Viet Nam," a powerful war protest song.
'The Harder They Come' - International Success:
In 1972, Cliff starred in a film called The Harder They Come, a Jamaican movie about a young man who movies to the big city to become a reggae music star, but ends up embroiled in a life of crime. He also provided the majority of the soundtrack for the movie, including the songs "The Harder they Come," "You Can get it if you Really Want," and "Many Rivers to Cross." It was this movie that propelled Cliff - along with reggae music - to international fame and renown.
Jimmy Cliff's Continuing Success:
Jimmy Cliff is still alive and still tours regularly and wows audiences throughout the world. He has maintained a successful recording career since his early days as a reggae pioneer. He has worked with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, The Rolling Stones, and Kool and the Gang, among many others. He has also had several international hit songs, including a cover of Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" from the soundtrack to the movie Cool Runnings. In 2012, his release Rebirth saw both critical and commercial success.
Activism and Charity Work:
Jimmy Cliff has been a tireless advocate for a variety of different charities and causes around the globe. Early on, he was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam war, and later became equally outspoken against Apartheid. He has also advocated for AIDS charities, third-world justice organizations, and arts organizations. Though not a Rastafarian, Jimmy Cliff is a torchbearer for roots reggae, a reggae subgenre that stresses social justice and consciousness.
Jimmy Cliff Starter CDs:
The Harder they Come Soundtrack - Cliff contributes the majority of songs, but other musicians featured on the album are also wonderful. (Compare Prices)
Jimmy Cliff - The Ultimate Collection - The best of the "best of" collections of Jimmy Cliff's music. (Compare Prices)
Wonderful World, Beautiful People - Cliff's original breakthrough album. (Compare Prices)