LOULE, PORTUGAL – JUNE 26: Jimmy Cliff performs onstage at Festival Med June 25, 2008 in Loule, Portugal. (Shutterstock)
By Stephanie Korney, Jamaicans
On August 28, 2022, Jamaican reggae legend Jimmy Cliff shared fascinating facts about his latest album release, meeting Bob Marley, and making the iconic film, “The Harder They Come” in an interview with Killian Fox of The Guardian in the United Kingdom. Here are some of the things we learned from this informative interview.
- Professionally known as Jimmy Cliff, he was born James Chambers in Jamaica in 1944.
- Jimmy Cliff started writing songs in primary school and was just 14 years old when he had his first hit with the song “Hurricane Hattie.”
- Cliff’s new album, “Refugees,” is his first to be released in a decade.
- Cliff creates his songs by speaking the lyrics into his phone and deciding later during the playback if the lyrics are relevant.
- Before having the starring role in the 1972 film, “The Harder They Come,” Cliff had never acted in a movie.
- The soundtrack of “The Harder They Come” has been credited with influencing the popularity of reggae music around the world.
- Cliff first realized that the film, “The Harder They Come,” would be a hit when he saw his face depicted on the sides of buses in the United Kingdom as part of an advertising campaign.
- The director of “The Harder They Come,” Perry Henzell, convinced Cliff to accept the role of “Ivan” in the film by telling him, “I think you’re a better actor than a singer.”
- Cliff remembers Eddy Grant most fondly from among the reggae pioneers because he and Grant lived in England at the same time and experienced the same fight for recognition in the industry; he said Eddy Grant was “one of the comfortable spirits that I found I could reason with.”
- Cliff auditioned Bob Marley and helped him to get his first recording.
- Cliff’s first impressions of Marley were that he had good instincts, was introspective, “had some kind of aura,” and “wasn’t always on the Earth plane.”
- Cliff counts an important lesson he has learned over his lifetime is to “Seek to know who I am and be who I am.”
- Cliff said he is happiest in Africa, and although he owns land in Liberia, there is no particular area that he likes most. Among the places in Africa that he loves are Sierra Leone, East Africa, and Southern Africa. “I love being in Africa, I just love the atmosphere,” he said.
- Cliff’s song, “Many Rivers to Cross,” has been covered by a variety of musical artists, including John Lennon, Annie Lennox, UB40, Harry Nilsson, and Cher.
- Cliff cites the fact that he got himself out of the ghetto as what he is most proud of. “I pulled myself out a stood up,” he said.
Source – The Guardian