Bob Andy (featuring Marcia Griffiths)
@ the Indigo 02
6 August 2012
Click an image to enlarge.
Bob Andy (born Keith Anderson) emerged as a solo star in 1966 with
the smash hit “I've Got to Go Back Home,” a song which
has become a much-loved anthem for Jamaicans. He had served his
singing and songwriting apprenticeship with the legendary vocal
group The Paragons, which he founded with Tyrone (Don) Evans and
Howard Barrett, later joined by John Holt. The Paragons had several
hits for producer Coxsone Dodd including the number one “Love
At Last”, penned by Andy.
As one of Studio one’s leading lights, Andy worked closely
with Jackie Mittoo on many of the label’s seminal sounds.
Besides writing songs for himself which have become reggae standards
– “Feeling Soul,” “My Time,” “Going
Home,” and “Too Experienced,” to name just a few
- Andy contributed hits for many of the other artists there.
In 1970, international recognition came when Bob Andy and Marcia
Griffiths recorded Nina Simone’s “Young, Gifted and
Black,” which sold 1/2 million in the UK and Europe, and still
receives frequent airplay today. Bob & Marcia became household
names, appearing on Top of the Pops and touring extensively. They
had another UK top ten single and two albums for Trojan Records.
During the early 70s Andy’s continued his solo recordings;
“You Don't Know” and “Life” are two songs
from this time which hold a special place in the hearts of his British
fans. After the duo split in 1974, Marcia became one of Bob Marley’s
I-Threes, and Andy’s singles “Fire Burning” and
“Check It Out” struck a responsive chord with Jamaicans
in the new social consciousness of the Manley era.
In the middle Seventies Andy was the Tropical Soundtracs label’s
A&R manager. He and Marcia Griffiths reunited for the Kemar
LP, which remains the definitive Bob & Marcia album and has
been released as “Really Together” on Andy’s own
Andy was one of the first Jamaican artists to establish his own
publishing company, ‘Andisongs,’ and served as one of
the prime movers in the attempt to establish a Caribbean Copyright
1978 saw the release of Andy’s album “Lots of Love
and I,” which amongst many excellent tracks contains the classics
“Ghetto Stays in the Mind” and “Feel the Feeling.”
In the same year he travelled to Cuba to perform at the 11th World
Festival of Youth and Students. Then began a five year absence from
the music scene as Andy became increasingly involved in acting.
He took lead roles in several theatre productions, and in 1979 starred
in the Jamaican feature film Children of Babylon.
In 1983 Andy was welcomed back to the reggae charts with the number
one single, “Honey,” followed by a number one album,
“Friends.” For these and subsequent releases he formed
his own label, I-Anka, in Jamaica and the UK.
During 1985 Andy toured California, appeared at the Youth Festival
in Moscow, and headlined the first Japanese Reggae Sunsplash. The
Retrospective album was released in 1986 (1987 on Heartbeat/Rounder
Records in North America) to widespread critical acclaim. It provides
a missing historical link between the Studio One masterpiece Bob
Andy’s Songbook and his more recent work.
In November 1987, Andy assumed the post of A&R and Promotions
Director for Tuff Gong (the group of companies founded by Bob Marley).
In this capacity he represented Tuff Gong Music at many industry
functions in Jamaica and abroad. He produced music by such artists
as Nadine Sutherland, Ernest Wilson and Tyrone Taylor, as well as
new talent. Andy’s stay at Tuff Gong provided him with many
opportunities to express his life-long desire for higher standards
in Jamaican music, both in its business operations and in the quality
of its musical output.
“Freely,” released on I-Anka in late 1988, comprised
tracks recorded throughout the middle 80s. It received rave reviews
and spent many months in the reggae charts.
Assuming once again his role of Jamaican music pioneer, Andy spent
six months in Australia in 1989, conducting workshops and playing
with local musicians. On December 13th 1989, he joined other leading
reggae artists at Gdansk Shipyard in Poland in an Anti-Apartheid
concert sponsored by Solidarity to celebrate the progress of the
world's liberation movements.
During the 90s Continental Records, one of Brazil's largest record
companies, issued a Bob Andy compilation album, and several of Andy’s
albums received Japanese releases. Andy recorded the album “Hanging
Tough” for producer Willie Lindo at his Heavy Beat Studios
in Miami. The set was released in 1997 on VP Records and included
the inspirational singles “Love This Life” and “Die
Formal recognition of Andy’s musical contributions has flowed
in from many sources during the last two decades. Rockers Magazine
honoured Andy with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Kingston in 1989,
as did the Canadian Reggae Music Awards in Toronto in 1991. Andy’s
song “Fire Burning” received the JAMI Award for Song
of the Year in 1991. In 1997 he was named as one of the music’s
‘Living Legends’ at the Reggae/Soca Awards in Miami
and was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the 1999
Bob Marley Day Festival in Southern California. He received the
Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Jamaica in 2003.
The 90s and the first decade of the new millennium have found Andy
continuing to give stunning performances in Europe, Japan, Jamaica,
Canada and the US. In addition to his solo performances he has taken
part in a series of special reunion concerts with Marcia Griffiths.
He has added new classics to his repertoire, such as the well-received
singles “Zion,” “There Is A God” and “Ska
Music (is Jah Music).”
In early 2005, Andy made his first journey to Africa. He performed
at the Bob Marley 60th birthday concert in Addis Ababa to an audience
of several hundred thousand, and also sang at the Ethiopian President’s
Palace. During a visit to Shashemane in the weeks following, he
gave benefit concerts for the 12 Tribes.
Jamaica conferred its Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander
(CD) on Keith ‘Bob Andy’ Anderson in October 2006 for
his contributions to the development of reggae music.
Most recently, Andy’s new compositions include two successful
singles recorded for the Altafaan label: “Create Our History”
with Luciano (2006), and “Almighty Dolla” (spring 2007).
It has often been noted that the mark of a great artist is the
continued production of notable works throughout his lifetime. A
veritable explosion of cover versions of Andy’s songs and
rhythms has already introduced a new generation of fans to his music.
Andy’s audience will have much to savour as they as become
familiar with his current songs, which will only serve to further
enhance one of the most distinctive and distinguished bodies of
work in Jamaica’s musical history.