Tell it like it is'

Copeland Forbes implores artistes, producers to write memoirs

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Friday, October 18, 2019

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Veteran music insider Copeland Forbes is encouraging colleagues to write memoirs, not just documenting their careers, but to enlighten the next generation of reggae artistes, managers and producers.

Forbes, 72, tells his story in Reggae My Life Is which he promises will be released next year.

“I have encouraged three of the artistes who I worked with to write their memoirs — Alton Ellis, John Holt and Marcia Griffiths. Alton and John died without doing so and recently I spoke to Marcia again,” Forbes told Splash. “These are pioneers and what they have been through can educate others and guide them.”

There have been many biographies of reggae stars and reggae, done mainly by foreigners. Most of them are about Bob Marley or the 1970s, a period of political and social turmoil in Jamaica, for which reggae provided a pulsating soundtrack.

Marley's former manager Don Taylor, his widow Rita and son Ky-Mani have released autobiographies. Reggae Going International 1967-1976, music producer Bunny Lee's memoirs was released in 2015. Singer Ken Boothe launched his autobiography, My Iconic Musical Journey, in June.

Forbes has pitched the documentation of his storied career for years. This week he vowed, “Wi not passing 2020 an' it don't come out because it's an education for the industry.”

He did not give an official release date or confirm a publisher, but said the project is being done with a ghostwriter.

The Kingston-born Forbes is one of reggae's colourful figures. He started out in the music industry in the late 1960s as a singer with various groups but branched into management during the 1970s when Jamaican artistes began touring areas like Europe and North America.

In over 50 years, he has worked with reggae's elite artistes including Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, John Holt, Marcia Griffiths, Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs. In 2017, he was awarded the Order of Distinction by Jamaica's Government for his contribution to the development of the country's music.

According to Forbes, Reggae My Life Is transcends his years in the music business. He hints that there are also guidelines for copyright and publishing, sensitive areas for artistes and producers.

“That is critical because yuh have a lot of artistes out there who are going down the wrong path,” he said.


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