Wed | May 27, 2020

Reggae music industry hails Bob Andy

Published:Sunday | March 29, 2020 | 12:00 AMYasmine Peru - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Bob Andy in 1998.
Bob Andy in 1972.
Bob Andy in 1977.
Bob Andy
Bob Andy in 1984.
Bob Andy

Friday’s passing of elder statesman of reggae music Bob Andy has plunged the industry and legions of fans worldwide into mourning for a giant whose decades-long, storied career led to him being bestowed the title “music royalty”. A singer, songwriter, producer, dancer, and actor, Keith Anderson, as the musical ambassador was christened, has left a legacy that is unsurpassed. Outstanding among this is his ‘ Songbook’ album for Studio One, which British travel magazine Rough Guides book, ‘Reggae: 100 Essential CDs’, describes as “a masterpiece that belongs in anyone’s CD collection – and not just of reggae music”. Maxine Stowe, the niece of Studio One founder Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd, told The Sunday Gleaner that “‘ Songbook’ is a soundtrack of his character”.

Stowe was among scores of persons who felt compelled to pay tribute to the Rastafarian entertainer upon his passing. “Bob hit a good innings as a creative, intellectual being. I measure him from a social conscious, Rastafari, Pan African, music industry foundation perspective. His life and work intersected with and influenced many fundamental people in my own life, starting with Coxsone Dodd, Sugar Minott, Marcia Griffiths, and Bunny Wailer. He also produced music and did stints with dancing and acting. I loved and will miss his mind!” she shared with The Sunday Gleaner.

Veteran producer Augustus ‘Gussie’ Clarke recalled Bob Andy’s humility. “Bob was one of the few remaining musical icons who always exhibited humility and respect for all while being deep in and guided by his spiritual and philosophical ‘reasonings’. I am proud to have benefited from knowing and working with him.”

It is impossible to mention the multifaceted Bob Andy without noting his songwriting credits. Numbered among reggae music’s most influential songwriters, the Rastafarian entertainer wrote songs both for himself and many of the genre’s leading artistes, among them Gregory Isaacs, Ken Boothe, and Delroy Wilson. His collaborations with the woman who would go on to distinguish herself as the Queen of Reggae, Marcia Griffiths, are the stuff of which legends are made.

Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport, a “big fan of Bob Andy’s music”, in paying tribute, hailed him as one of the best songwriters Jamaica has ever produced. She stated: “His writing was superb. Nobody could write songs like him. He leaves a legacy of some of the greatest hits, including the classic I’ve Got to Go Back Home and Fire Burning. Bob Andy lived a long, creative life. I offer my sincerest condolences to his fans, colleagues, friends, and family – especially his children, Bobby, Bianka and Shamori. We all mourn the passing of a truly remarkable man.”

Music consultant Andrea Davis dubs Bob Andy Jamaican music royalty. “He has been an outstanding songwriter, singer, and an internationally beloved ambassador of Jamaican music. His exceptional creativity contributed to some of the most iconic songs in Jamaican music. He will be missed, but his music will live on. Condolences to his family, his music family, and his fans around the world.”

Dave Rodney, media-marketing specialist, told The Sunday Gleaner: “I grew up on the amazing music of Bob Andy in Jamaica, but more recently, I had the pleasure of working closely with Bob on Grooving in the Park in New York, doing the media rounds. He was a gentle giant, a hit machine, a sensational performer, and a brilliant storyteller with a biting sense of humour. May his soul rest in serene peace.”

Tommy Cowan, CEO of Glory Music, hailed Bob Andy as a philosopher who had a passion for defending the rights of the creators of Jamaican music and shared a personal moment. “One day after he was released from the UWI Hospital with tears in his eyes, he said, ‘I never knew that people loved me so much’, which was a reaction to the love showed by folks while he was ill. Bob was a believer who accepted Christ into his life. The last scripture I shared with him by WhatsApp this morning, which was read to him by Jessica Jones at his bedside, was Psalm 34:3: ‘Oh magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his name together.’ Keith will always have a special place in my heart, and I won’t forget the day at his bedside when he accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour,” he said.

Musician and band leader for Fab Five Frankie Campbell remembered Bob Andy as a fantastic performer and singer as well as one of Jamaica’s greatest songwriters. He declared: “He will be sadly missed. The only regret was that he never resolved his publishing problems with Studio One after trying for over two decades. On behalf of JAVAA and Fab 5, condolences to his family, friends, and fans from all over the world. May his soul rest in peace.”