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Jimmy Cliff

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St. Catherine, Jamaica (1962 – present)

Jimmy Cliff OM (> Jamaican Order of Merit) born as James Chambers (1 April 1948, St. Catherine, Jamaica) is a Jamaican reggae musician. He is best known among mainstream audiences for songs like “Sittin’ in Limbo”, “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” “Many Rivers to Cross” and the title track from The Harder They Come, a film soundtrack which helped popularise reggae across the world.

Cliff moved to Kingston in 1962. After he released two singles that failed to make much of an impression, his career took off when his “Hurricane Hattie” became a hit, while he was aged just 14; it was produced by Leslie Kong, with whom Cliff would remain until Kong’s death. Later local hit singles included “King of Kings”, “Dearest Beverley” and “Pride and Passion”. In 1964, Cliff was chosen as one of the Jamaican representatives at the World’s Fair, and Cliff soon signed to Island Records and moved to Britain. Island initially (and unsuccessfully) tried to sell Cliff to the rock audience, but his career took off in the late 1960s. His international debut album was Hard Road to Travel, which received excellent reviews and included “Waterfall”, a Brazilian hit that won the International Song Festival.

“Waterfall” was followed in 1969 by “Wonderful World, Beautiful People” and “Vietnam” in 1970, both popular throughout most of the world. Folk rock singer-songwriter Bob Dylan even called “Vietnam” the best protest song he’d ever heard. Wonderful World included a cover of Cat Stevens’ “Wild World”, which was a success in 1970.

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