Inner Circle's golden momentSunday, October 27, 2019
BY AALIYAH CUNNINGHAM
Inner Circle, the original “Bad Boys of Reggae” celebrated in fine style last Thursday evening at the Jamaica Pegasus in New Kingston.
The band which is known for reggae anthems such as Bad Boys and Sweat certainly had a lot to celebrate. This year marks their 50th anniversay and last Monday, National Heroes Day two of the founding members, brothers Ian and Roger Lewis received the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer for their contribution to Reggae Music at King's House.
“It's nothing like being honoured in your own country among your own peers. I am very happy,” Roger Lewis said of the award.
“Never thought of really doing anything else (besides music), I was the one with the dream after watching Byron Lee, and all these other bands, and I just loved to see it. So I decided to learn to play the guitar at JC (Jamaica College) with Ibo Cooper. We started with my dream. I remember I used to jump fence and everything just to get inside the stage shows to just be around the music. I remember going to see Desmond Dekker just to watch him. I was really so passionate,” he continued.
The group started with Roger and Ian Lewis and came together along with keyboardist Cooper, guitarist Steven “Cat” Coore and singer Prilly Hamilton.
Five decades later, Lewis admitted to the Jamaica Observer that he never thought the group would have stood the test of time.
“Honestly, when we started, I never knew we would last. At that time, we just wanted to make music. In any group or wherever you have a team of people everybody has opinions, and their own contributions and egos, but the key to lasting is really family. When you have a core, it's team, it's called a band and we just stick together and work together because we all have that same musical vision,” he said.
Having seen the face of reggae music change over the years, Lewis believes the music is still in good hands.
“Our music in Jamaica has always been influenced by black and African music overall. Ken Boothe and the Heptones- the songs they made, they were never original reggae songs. They drew from a number of different sounds. But now I think the younger generation is now influenced by more international sounds like R&B and hip hop. But still, we know how to express ourselves in the music. There is still nothing else like what we have here. We are leaders not followers. We still have so many great acts coming up in the industry. If there is anything I know for sure, it's that Jamaica has talent,” he reasoned.
As he “grows younger with time” Lewis has plans to work with some of these artistes as they approach the end of their lives on tour.
“We are always on the road now. In the next couple years, we might tone down the touring. Really, what I want to do is some more producing, especially with these up-and-coming artistes like Naomi Cowan, Lila Ike, Koffee, Sevana and the list goes on and on,” Lewis said.
Inner Circle has had a lively career having worked as both a stage band and recording artistes. The group is credited for backing hits such as Cherry Oh Baby by Eric Donaldson, which won the 1971 Festival Song Contest. They also won the Grammy for or Best Reggae Album in 1994 with Bad Boys.