Thu | Nov 23, 2017

Inner Circle plans 50th anniversary celebrations

Published:Wednesday | April 12, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Bernard Harvey (left), Roger Lewis (seated), Lancelot Hall (front) and Ian Lewis make up the band Inner Circle.
Members of the Inner Circle Band back in the day.
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Most days when they're not touring, Roger and Ian Lewis of Inner Circle can be found at the band's spacious dual complex in North Miami.

Though the biggest names in pop music (Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, P Diddy, and Pitbull) have recorded at their Circle House studio, the brothers maintain a distinct Jamaican identity.

They co-founded Inner Circle 49 years ago in Kingston, Jamaica, and are preparing to celebrate their golden anniversary in 2018.

"It's a great feeling, a lotta the people we came up with are either dead or give up the business, so we have a lot to be thankful for," said Ian Lewis.

Ian, 63, is the band's bass player and two years younger than Roger who plays guitar. They remain Inner Circle's backbone after years of personnel changes.

One 'change' was tragic. In April, 1980, they lost charismatic lead singer Jacob Miller in an auto accident at age 27.

Miller was a standard-bearer of the short-lived Rockers movement. He led Inner Circle on hits like Tenement Yard, Forward Ever, Backward Never, and Disciplined Child.

 

PITFALL

 

"Losing Jacob was a great pitfall. Yuh don't get singers like dat everyday," said Ian Lewis.

Inevitably, Miller's legacy will be part of Inner Circle's 50th anniversary celebrations. A stage musical, Tenement Yard, is scheduled to open in May next year to mark his 65th birthday.

In addition, a free concert at Emancipation Park is also scheduled for that period. A book and documentary on Inner Circle are also in the works.

The Lewis brothers have bona fide reggae credentials. They played on Cherry Oh Baby, the 1971 song that won Jamaica's Festival competition.

They also played on The Wailers' classic, Stir It Up.

In the early 1990s, the Lewis duo fashioned a remarkable comeback with the hit songs Sweat and Bad Boys. They won a Grammy Award in 1993 for Best Reggae Album.

Last year, their extensive world tour saw them playing to over a million fans.

But Ian Lewis points out that turning 50 is not just about Inner Circle. They hope to get Jamaica's Government interested in establishing a Reggae Hall of Fame, where the unheralded will get their due.

"Wi have a lotta people out there who are forgotten an' dats not right. Many of them have passed on, but their contribution should still be recognised," said Ian Lewis.