Johnny Clarke, the hit machine
In commemoration of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of Independence from Britain, the Jamaica Observer’s Entertainment section recognises 50 persons who made significant, yet unheralded, contributions to the country’s culture. This week we feature Johnny Clarke.
FEW artistes wereable to get a dance jumping in the 1970s like a singer from Whitfield Town named Johnny Clarke.
While most roots artistes recorded songs to the loping one drop beat made famous by The Wailers, Clarke’s hit songs were driven by producer Bunny Lee’s funky ‘Flying Cymbal’ sound.
Move Outa Babylon, None Shall Escape the Judgement, Rock With Me Baby, and True Believer in Love were some of the biggest hits of the 1970s, all done by the silky-smooth Clarke who defined the Greenwich Farm sound.
Ironically, Clarke — a Jamaica College old boy —hit it big in the early 1970s with the ‘one droppish’ Everyone Wondering, produced by Rupie Edwards.
But it was with Lee that he made his name, recording with the producer’s house band The Aggrovators, which included drummer Carlton ‘Santa’ Davis who created the Flying Cymbal.
Known as the hit machine in his heyday, Johnny Clarke fell out of favour with disc jockeys in the 1980s. But through mediums like YouTube, a new generation of fans in Europe have recently discovered his distinct sound.