JOHNNY CLARKE FOR STARTIME JANUARY 9
He is unquestionably one of Jamaica’s most outstandi
ng vocal talents, but while he has never achieved the international acclaim of some of his compatriots, Johnny Clarke has carved a musical niche which places him among the most popular Startime performers.
In his heyday, during the mid- through late ’70s, Johnny recorded a stream of crucial hits, as well as a bundle of seminal albums. He also had an tremendous impact on the 60s/80s dancehall scene, which like today, is still the preserve of DJs. His ability to write new lyrics, mostly in a cultural vein and his classic reggas hits opened the dancehall door for vocalists, and Johnny he has been acknowledged as the first of the dancehall singers and one who influenced such stars as Sugar Minott and Barrington Levy among others.
He too began his career in the talent contest circuit, and a win in 1971 at Tony Mack’s talent show brought him a meeting with Clancy Eccles. The producer was impressed enough to record the singer’s debut single, God Made the Sea and the Sun. He left Eccles and eventually hooked up with producer Rupie Edwards with whom he immediately scored a clutch of hits in Julie, Everyday Wondering, and Ire Feelings which all shook the charts in 1973.
He cut a number of singles for a variety of different producers, but it was when he joined forces with producer Bunny Lee that he reached his full potential. Lee introduced the “flying cymbal” sound that swiftly became his trademark as a producer and earned him the nickname “Striker.” Together the two men would unleash a host of unforgettable singles, opening with the massive hit None Shall Escape the Judgement.
Over the next two years, Johnny inundated Jamaica with hit singles including Move Out of Babylon Rastaman, Rock With Me Baby, Let Go Violence, Fancy Make Up, It’s True, True Believer In Love, Left With A Broken Heart, Enter Into His Gates With Praise, Too Much War, notable covers of Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry, and two classics by the Abbyssinians namely Sattamassagana and Declaration Of Rights, all three becoming international smashes, while seling over 40,000 copies each in Jamaica alone. His hit-making ability produced several more hit singles and albums and earned him five successive “Singer of the Year awards from 1975 to 1980.
Today, Johnny Clarke is still in demand throughout Europe, the United States and the Far East, but he has cut his touring schedule to make himself available for the big Return of The Original Startime show at Mas Camp on Saturday January 9, 2016; as he says Startime is one of his favourite shows.