Bob Andy, the songwriter


Bob Andy, the songwriter

Observer senior writer

Saturday, March 28, 2020

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Of the many classic songs Bob Andy wrote, none appealed to Michael Barnett more than I'm Going Home. As a Jamaican living in New York City during the 1970s, it carried a powerful message.

“That song meant so much to me personally, 'cause I wanted to go back to Jamaica so badly,” Barnett told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Barnett was one of many music industry personalities paying tribute to Andy, who died yesterday in Kingston at age 75. To the Kool 97 FM disc jockey, the singer/songwriter was “one of my heroes”.

Tommy Cowan and Andy were friends before they got into the music business as members of The Jamaicans and The Paragons, respectively. Cowan rates Andy as “one of the best writers ever” who “wrote songs that challenged the system when everybody was doing lovey-dovey songs”.

Those songs included Unchained, which was recorded at Studio One in the late-1960s, and the provocative, self-produced Check it Out which he did in 1975.

Danny Breakenridge, music producer and proprietor of Upstairs Music in Florida, knew Andy for over 45 years. They met in 1974 when Andy and Geoffrey Chung operated Soundtrack, a production company/record label, in Kingston.

Breakenridge produced two albums by Andy whose intellect had a profound impact on him.

“Bob was one of the most brilliant minds in the music industry, and as a person. He never stopped reading and learning,” said Breakenridge, who last spoke to his ailing friend two weeks ago.

Andy (real name: Keith Anderson) emerged as a songwriter during the rocksteady era of the mid- and late-1960s. In three years there, he only recorded 12 songs, including Unchained and I 've Got to go Back Home, which were compiled for Songbook, released in 1972.

In 2017, Andy told the Jamaica Observer that those songs did not enjoy mass airplay in the 1960s. Their greatest exposure came through a medium that was growing throughout Kingston.

“They were popular in the dancehall. That's how people came to know them before Coxson (producer Clement Dodd) compiled the album,” he said.

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