Second coming of The Gladiators
TYPICAL of most entertainers who follow in their parents footsteps, Al Griffiths is committed to preserving the legacy of The Gladiators, the reggae group created by his father Albert Griffiths.
Best known for the hit song Hello Carol, The Gladiators were formed in 1967 in Kingston and included Griffiths, Clinton Fearon, Errol Grandison and David Webber.
But while The Gladiators continue to enjoy strong support overseas, particularly in Europe, their prominence in Jamaica has declined. With his father no longer active because of failing health, Al Griffiths is on a mission to re-establish the group locally.
"Most people who know The Gladiators know it through my father and the song Hello Carol. But they need to know that his son is carrying on the work," the younger Griffiths told the Jamaica Observer.
"Although we are well-known in Europe and Brazil, what I really want is the public to become aware of what the Gladiators are doing," he added.
Griffiths has been the band's lead singer for the past five years, touring Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. He said The Gladiators are in transition as several of its members have advanced in age.
He is one of two brothers still with the band. Anthony, his younger sibling, plays drums; keyboardist Rory Griffiths, their older brother, died in 2011.
Guitarists Gallimore Sutherland and Clinton Rufus are long-serving band members. The other members are bassist/vocalist Ruddy Robinson, trumpeters Stafan Depass and Glen Williams and saxophonist Mark Gooden.
"The first album we did with my father, was named Gladiators Father and Sons, which came out five years ago in France and America with MediaCom and Ras Records, respectively. The next one was Continuation three years ago. I am getting ready to do another album," said Griffiths.
After Hello Carol hit in 1968, The Gladiators continued to have success with songs like Freedom Train, Rock a Man Soul and The Race. In 1976, the group signed with Virgin Records in Britain, and began work on their label debut with producer Prince Tony Robinson. The result was Trenchtown Mix Up, an album which included revisions of earlier Studio One tracks, including Mix Up, an update of Bongo Red, one of their early hits.