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 Inner Circle —

Just days after returning from the Welcome To Jamrock Cruise, Inner Circle’s Ian Lewis is already looking forward to the band’s next overseas gigs. They are scheduled to make maiden stops in Sri Lanka and India in early 2018 as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations.

Lewis, 64, is the band’s bass player and co-founder. His brother Roger, older by two years, has also been Inner Circle’s guitarist from 1968.

Both are quick to tell you about their credentials which they believe have gone largely unnoticed in Jamaica. Like playing on Cherry Oh Baby, the 1971 Festival Song winner by Eric Donaldson; being the backing band for Michael Manley’s musical bandwagon leading into the 1972 general election in Jamaica; and performing at the 1978 One Love Peace Concert.

Inner Circle

Inner Circle

Not as bulky as in his youth, Ian Lewis insists he and his brother are not bitter at being overlooked for national honours.

“Di ‘ray’ an’ di ‘raah’ has never been our thing. Wi still dey ’bout an’ a do wi thing, playing all over di world…sometimes it’s just unbelievable.”

Now a six-piece unit, Inner Circle kept busy this year with a number of shows in remote places like Dubai and Seychelles (in the Indian Ocean). Two weeks ago, they made their first appearance on Damian Marley’s Welcome To Jamrock Cruise which made stops in in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.

Some of their golden anniversary activities will be in Jamaica. One of the events is Tenement Yard, a play based on their 1976 hit song with singer Jacob Miller; Ian Lewis is currently working on a script with actor Owen “Blacka” Ellis.

Inner Circle with Jacob Miller

Inner Circle with Jacob Miller

A commemorative concert is tentatively scheduled for Jamaica College, he and his brother’s alma mater, in May to coincide with Miller’s birthday. Miller was killed in a motor accident in Kingston in March 1980 at age 27.

Inner Circle are known to the cable television generation for the hit songs, Bad Boys and Sweat (A La La La La Long) which revived their career in Miami during the 1990’s. They operate a multi-faceted studio in that city where pop music’s biggest stars have recorded.

But Lewis notes that they earned their stripes working Jamaica’s tough live show circuit during the 1970s, an un-paralleled period of creativity in reggae, and one of the bloodiest eras in the country’s history.

Music and politics came to a head in April 1978 with the One Love Peace Concert at the National Stadium in Kingston, where Miller was one of the stars. Called by the Manley government to help quell political violence in the country, the show is remembered for Bob Marley bringing Manley and Opposition leader Edward Seaga on stage for a symbolic clasping of hands.


For Lewis, events leading to, and performing on the show, are among his career high points.

“I was there as a likkle youth seeing how society run. Di energy dat night was jus’ electric,” he recalled.

Over the years, Inner Circle have gone through multiple personnel changes. Keyboardist Bernard “Touter” Harvey, who played on some of The Wailers early songs for Island Records, remains a mainstay of the band, which is completed by drummer Lancelot Hall, guitarist Ronnie Gutierrez and singer Trevor ‘Skatta’ Bonnick.


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