Jimmy Cliff was born on April 1st 1948 in small village called Somerton in Western Jamaica, about 12 miles east of Montego Bay. In 1962, his father relocated Jimmy to Kingston for school. Jimmy Cliff started hustling his songs right away to anyone he thought might be able to help him record a record.
It was at this time in the early 1960’s that Jimmy Cliff talked Beverley’s Ice Cream shop owner Leslie Kong, a Chinese Jamaican who also owned a record store to produce Cliff’s first songs, and thus launched the legendary Beverley’s record label. Beverley’s would also release Bob Marley’s first recordings and many others including Desmond Dekker’s smash international hit Israelites.
Before we get to our 1975 interview with Jimmy Cliff from our WBAI New York studios, we present longtime Radio host and author Chuck Foster to guide us through the Jimmy Cliff’s life and music from those early days in Kingston. Coincidently Chuck Foster’s radio program Reggae Central was celebrating it’s 30 year Anniversary on KPFK Los Angeles on the day of his commentary.
The focus of the original interview centered around the release of the 1972 film The Harder They Come which wasn’t released widely in the United States until the very popular midnight showings in major cities throughout 1974 and 1975.