20 images Created 19 Jun 2012
An excellent singer-songwriter, Jimmy Cliff was an international face of reggae music even before Bob Marley. In 1962, at the age of 15, he first emerged as a ska singer, having successes for Leslie Kong with 'King Of Kings' and 'Dearest Beverley'. Brought to the attention of Chris Blackwell, Cliff moved to London where he was groomed as an Island Records solo star. It was 1969 before he hit the UK pop charts, with his self-penned 'Wonderful World, Beautiful People', followed the next year by 'Vietnam'. Other hits included his cover of Cat Stevens' 'Wild World'. But Cliff's career took a quantum leap to iconic status when he starred as Ivan Martin in Perry Henzell's The Harder They Come. Although Chris Blackwell wanted to capitalise on this new recognition, Cliff left Island and signed with EMI. Although the quality of his work has never been in doubt, Jimmy Cliff never took full advantage of the break that The Harder They Come should have brought him. He remains, however, a huge star in France, Africa and South America.