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Bob Andy
Jamaican reggae vocalist and songwriter Bob Andy

Bob Andy transited this life earlier today at home in Kingston Jamaica. He was 76 years old.

Bob Andy (born Keith Anderson) emerged as a solo star in 1966 with the smash hit "I've Got to Go Back Home", a song which has become a much-loved anthem for Jamaicans

He had served his singing and songwriting apprenticeship with the legendary vocal group The Paragons which he founded with Tyrone (Don) Evans and Howard Barrett, later joined by John Holt. The Paragons had several hits for producer Coxsone Dodd including the Number One "Love At Last", penned by Bob. As one of Studio One's leading lights, Bob worked closely with Jackie Mittoo on many of the label's seminal sounds.

Besides writing songs for himself which have become reggae standards - "Feeling Soul", "My Time", "Going Home", and "Too Experienced", to name just a few - Bob contributed hits for many of the other artists there. In 1970, international recognition came when Bob and Marcia Griffiths recorded Nina Simone's "Young, Gifted and Black", which sold half a million copies in the UK and Europe, and still receives frequent airplay today.

Bob and Marcia

Bob & Marcia became household names, appearing on Top of the Pops and touring extensively. They had another UK Top Ten single and two albums for Trojan Records. During the early 70s Bob continued his solo recordings; "You Don't Know" and "Life" are two songs from this time which hold a special place in the hearts of his British fans.

After the duo split in 1974, Marcia became one of Bob Marley's I-Threes, and Bob's singles "Fire Burning" and "Check It Out" struck a responsive chord with Jamaicans in the new social consciousness of the Manley era. In the middle seventies Bob joined the newly formed Soundtracs label in Jamaica as their A&R manager. He and Marcia reunited for the Kemar album, which remains the definitive Bob & Marcia album and has been released as Really Together on Bob's own label.

Bob was one of the first Jamaican artists to establish his own publishing company, Andisongs, and served as one of the prime movers in the attempt to establish a Caribbean Copyright Organisation. 1978 saw the release of Bob's album Lots of Love and I, which amongst many excellent tracks contains the classics "Ghetto Stays in the Mind" and "Feel the Feeling." In the same year he traveled to Cuba to perform at the 11th World Festival of Youth and Students. Then began a five year absence from the music scene as Bob became increasingly involved in acting.

Bob the Thespian

He took lead roles in several theatre productions, and in 1979 starred in the Jamaican feature film Children of Babylon. In 1983 Bob was welcomed back to the reggae charts with a UK number one single, "Honey", followed by a Number One album, Friends. For these and subsequent releases he formed his own label, I-Anka, in Jamaica and the UK. During 1985 Bob toured California, appeared at the Youth Festival in Moscow, and headlined the first Japanese Reggae Sunsplash.

The Retrospective album was released in 1986 (1987 on Heartbeat/Rounder Records in North America) to widespread critical acclaim. It provides a missing historical link between the Studio One masterpiece Bob Andy's Songbook and his more recent work. In November 1987, Bob assumed the post of A&R and Promotions Director for Tuff Gong (the group of companies founded by Bob Marley). In this capacity he represented Tuff Gong Music at many industry functions in Jamaica and abroad. He produced artists such as Nadine Sutherland, Ernest Wilson and Tyrone Taylor, as well as new talent. Bob's stay at Tuff Gong provided him with many opportunities to express his life-long desire for higher standards in Jamaican music, both in its business operations and in the quality of its musical output.

Bob Andy's Later Years

Freely, released on I-Anka in late 1988, comprised tracks recorded throughout the middle 80s. It received rave reviews and spent many months in the reggae charts. Assuming once again his role of Jamaican music pioneer, Bob spent six months in Australia in 1989, conducting workshops and playing with local musicians. On December 13th 1989, he joined other leading reggae artists at Gdansk Shipyard in Poland in an Anti-Apartheid concert sponsored by Solidarity to celebrate the progress of the world's liberation movements. During the 90s Continental Records, one of Brazil's largest record companies, issued a Bob Andy compilation album, and several of Bob's albums received Japanese releases. Bob recorded the album Hanging Tough for producer Willie Lindo at his Heavy Beat Studios in Miami. The set was released in 1997 on VP Records and included the inspirational singles "Love This Life" and "Die No More." Formal recognition of Bob’s musical contributions has flowed in from many sources during the last two decades. Rockers Magazine honoured Bob with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Kingston in 1989, as did the Canadian Reggae Music Awards in Toronto in 1991.

Bob’s song “Fire Burning” received the JAMI Award for Song of the Year in 1991. In 1997 he was named as one of the music’s “Living Legends” at the Reggae/Soca Awards in Miami and was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the 1999 Bob Marley Day Festival in Southern California. He received the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Jamaica in 2003. The 90s and the first decade of the new millennium have found Bob continuing to give stunning performances in Europe, Japan, Jamaica, Canada and the US. In addition to his solo performances he has taken part in a series of special reunion concerts with Marcia Griffiths. He has added new classics to his repertoire, such as the well-received singles “Zion”, “There Is A God” and “Ska Music (is Jah Music)”. In early 2005, Bob made his first journey to Africa. He performed at the Bob Marley 60th birthday concert in Addis Ababa to an audience of several hundred thousand, and also sang at the Ethiopian President’s Palace.

During a visit to Shashemane in the weeks following he gave benefit concerts for the community. More recent compositions include two successful singles recorded by Bob for the Altafaan label: “Create Our History” with Luciano (2006), and “Almighty Dolla” (2007). Jamaica conferred its Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander (CD) on Keith ‘Bob Andy’ Anderson in October 2006 for his contributions to the development of reggae music. It has often been noted that the mark of a great artist is the continued production of notable works throughout his lifetime. May his Soul Rest in Peace.

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