Reggae MUSIC: Marcia Griffiths Sings ‘Gypsy Man’
Marcia Griffiths began performing live in Kingston, Jamaica as an early teenager in the 1960s, and her inspirational shows quickly incited a music industry feeding frenzy to sign her.
At the age of fifteen, her father struck a deal for her with famed Record Producer Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd from Studio One. Coxsone immediately arranged for her to record duets with both Tony Gregory and Bob Marley, but the first of her future hits wouldn’t come until several years later.
One of Studio One’s top singers/songwriters/producers, Bob Andy, took an interest in her, and the two recorded and performed many songs together, spawning hits that enjoyed great commercial success in Jamaica. In 1970, the two released Nina Simone’s ‘Young, Gifted and Black‘, and it topped the Jamaican charts, and also spent twelve weeks in the UK’s Top 5.
In 1974, she recorded a rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Gypsy Woman’, entitled ‘Gypsy Man’, for her Sweet Bitter Love album. This album would be her last solo effort for some time to come. She and her two female vocalists, Rita Marley — wife of Bob Marley — and Judy Mowatt, performed in New Kingston that summer, and Bob Marley was so blown away by the performance that he invited the three to sing harmonies for him as members of the Wailers.
Marcia, Rita and Judy became known as Bob Marley’s ‘I Threes’, and Marcia would continue recording and performing with Marley from 1974 until his tragic death in 1981.
From child sensation, to a successful adult recording artist, to a member of Bob Marley’s ‘I Threes’, to pursuing a successful solo career afterwards, Marcia Griffiths is often dubbed as the ‘Queen of Reggae’.
Gypsy Man is a song that not only illustrates her beautiful voice, but exemplifies the amazing reggae renditions of American soul music being recorded in Jamaica at that time.
Watch: Curtis Mayfield Performs ‘Move On Up’ Live @ The Hague, 1987
‘Move On Up’ is one of the best songs ever written. Curtis Mayfield was the master of socially-aware, inspirational music, and his live performances were as tight and emotional as his studio recordings. His music was and still is loved and covered by artists from all over the world. Here he was in 1987 playing in The Hague, Netherlands. Enjoy!:
Watch: Paul Weller Covers Sister Sledge’s “Thinking of You”
Probably no artist has left as big a mark on my adolescent years as Paul Weller. From huge Jam fan / Style Council fan — to playing in bands heavily influenced by his writing. There’s probably millions of those who share similar stories as mine across the Atlantic, but over here in America, I’d guess there’s maybe a baker’s dozen of us — tops.
He didn’t seem to feel compelled to make the effort over here. Very few tours — and as a result he was generally relegated to alternative radio stations and his vinyl got stocked mostly just in the big urban areas.
As a college student studying abroad, I was fortunate enough to see him perform twice in London as The Paul Weller Movement (this was the period in 1991 after the Style Council split, when he’d released the ‘Into Tomorrow’ EP on his own indie label — Freedom High Records). Fabulous shows: one in a small venue off of Portobello Road (Morrissey was rumored in the tabloids that week to have been in the audience, but I didn’t see him — and seriously — who’s going to miss seeing Morrissey wallowing around 🙂 ), and at Brixton Academy — a show which I believe is or was available on DVD in the UK.
I saw him play again when I was living in New York City — probably in 1992 or 1993. Any fond memories of your own seeing Paul Weller live in one of his various incarnations? Please share …
Anyways, here’s an amazing cover of a Nile Rodgers song (Sister Sledge/Chic) that Paul did on his 2004 album Studio 150. The single is entitled, “Thinking of You”. If you have a pulse, you will love this.
Note: It appears Paul didn’t bother to make his excellent Studio 150 — an album of covers — available for download on iTunes. Paul, Paul, Paul … technology has finally made it easy for you to get your music to Americans — unlike in the old vinyl days when I’d have to make pilgrimages to find your stuff. Get with the program already …