Jimmy Cliff is a Jamaican reggae musician famed for being instrumental in introducing the reggae genre to the wider international audience. Born in 1948, Jimmy began his music career in his teens. Before attracting the international attention, he had released several singles, which sold well in Jamaica. His fame spread beyond Jamaica when he featured in “The Harder They Come” film as a troubled musician. Since his bursting onto the international scene, Jimmy Cliff has remained there.
His Early Life
Jimmy began his music career while in primary school where he could write songs. After completing his primary education, he joined Kingston Technical High School, where his talents really developed. While in high school, Cliff would participate in local talent contests, and by the time he reached 14, he had already released many single tracks, including “Hurricane Hattie,” which clearly launched his music career. He left Jamaica for the United Kingdom, a move that helped to take his music career to a higher level. While in the United Kingdom, Jimmy collaborated with famous musicians who played a major role in his international music. Bob Dylan was one of the artists that helped Jimmy.
Jimmy’s Commercial Success
The 1972 film (The Harder They Come) in which Jimmy starred was a major hit that introduced reggae to the world for the first time. Jimmy’s four songs were featured in the movie’s soundtrack. By 1973, the movie had begun appearing in theaters. At this time, The Wailers were also experiencing a breakthrough. With reggae experiencing international popularity at that time, the stage was well set for Jimmy to shine. As such, he went on to release a series of albums, in collaboration with Sting, the Rolling Stones, and Annie Lennox.
In 1995, Cliff released another track “Hakuna Matata,” a collaboration that was featured in “The Lion King” as the film’s soundtrack. Jimmy also entertained the crowd during the closing ceremony of the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
His Personal Life and Achievements
As Jimmy’s music advanced, he took a short break to Africa, where he converted to Islam, changing his name to El Hadj Naïm Bachir. In 2003, he was honored with the Order of Merit by the government of Jamaica, in recognition of the role he played in the development of Jamaican music, and was also included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. Today, Cliff is still a popular figure across the world.