The “Song of the Week” this week is the excellent “Life” by Bob Andy. Inspired by this, Shelley and I thought we would have a look at his life and career. Then, via a somewhat circuitous route eventually, we would come up with another great track in the Dragon Cafe Musical Sequence …
Bob Andy was a Jamaican reggae vocalist and songwriter. He was born in Kingston on 28th October 1944 and is widely regarded as one of reggae’s most influential songwriters. He was one of the founding members of the Jamaican group The Paragons.
They recorded the original version of “The Tide is High” in 1967, written by fellow group members Tyrone Evans, Howard Barrett and John Holt. In 1980 “The Tide Is High” became a UK no 1 hit for Blondie. (This is when the song first came to my attention). It hit no 1 again for Atomic Kitten in 2002.
After leaving the group, John Holt went on to become a major star in his own right. He famously recorded a fantastic reggae cover version of the Gladys Knight classic “Help Me Make It Through The Night.”
But hold up … We are getting a bit ahead of ourselves … In the early 1970s, Bob Andy recorded with Marcia Griffiths as “Bob and Marcia”.
They had a major UK hit with Nina Simone’s “Young, Gifted and Black” (with orchestral backing added for the UK market). The track reached No 5 and spent 12 weeks in the UK charts.
The duo, who at the time were also romantically attached, toured both the UK and Europe with Elton John and Gilbert O’Sullivan.
Although they had a second top 20 UK hit called the “Pied Piper” they eventually became disillusioned with their lack of financial success in Europe and decided to return to Jamaica.
Bob and Marcia‘s romantic relationship ended in 1977 but they remained close friends until Andy died of cancer in March 2020. He was 75 at the time of his passing and had enjoyed a long, fruitful and mostly happy career.
Marcia Griffiths is now 70 and is still singing.