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BOB ANDY: REGGAE’S FIRST SERIOUS SONGWRITER!

Songwriters were a rarity in Jamaican music during the early years. Producers preferred artists to cover songs mainly from the United States.

Bob Andy is, arguably, reggae’s first serious songwriter. In the 1960s, when top ska and rocksteady acts were into covering their American counterparts like The Tams and The Impressions, Andy came into his own.

Bob Andy

Bob Andy

I’ve Got to Go Back Home, his first big hit, is a horn-hooked classic considered a rallying cry for repatriation to Africa.

That opened the floodgates. At producer Clement Dodd’s Studio One, Andy wrote and sang songs that are rated among the best in reggae. They include Too Experienced, Unchained and Really Together (with Marcia Griffiths).

With militant Jamaican youth demanding social change in the early 1970s, Andy was one of the writers who summed up the times with songs like the provocative Check It Out and Fire Burning.

Andy was born Keith Anderson in 1944. A founding member of harmony group The Paragons, he started his career in the early 1960s; but he left before they became hitmakers at producer Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle label.

Young Bob

Young Bob

Andy showed a different side to his talent by playing the lead role in the 1978 movie, Children of Babylon. But musically, he was largely lost to fans in the 1980s.

A decade later, he was back in demand when Griffiths covered Fire Burning at the height of a massive rocksteady revival.

Bob Andy, now 73, continues to record and perform. In 2006, he was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government for his contribution to the country’s music.

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