Happy birthday, Bob Andy - Singer did it his way
Godfrey ‘Bobby’ Anderson, the son of late, great, reggae singer and songwriter Bob Andy, said his father often used a line of American singer Frank Sinatra’s popular song My Way to describe his life’s journey. “My father would say that ‘like ole blue eyes, I did it my way’,” Anderson shared with The Gleaner. “He was not one to go with a decision just because it was popular. He would do his research and if he was the only one in disagreement, then so be it. Bob was not one to follow the crowd.”
The singer’s first-born, who resides overseas, made sure to be in Jamaica for his father’s birthday today, just like he was 12 years ago when there was another important United States election in the making. “That was when Obama was running for the presidency, and I voted early and came to Jamaica to spend some time with my father. So I did the same thing, and by being here at this time I am honouring his memory,” Anderson said.
He plans to “play a whole heap of Bob Andy tune” today and recall the good times. And there were many. He was the road manager for his father, at intervals, and he remembered with fondness travelling across Europe on tour, even as Keith ‘Bob Andy’ Anderson waved the Jamaica flag high wherever he went. “This would be his 76th birthday, and he was only 18 years older than me. He explained it all to me, about him becoming a father so early. But if there was one thing that my father really taught me, that was how to think. My father was a philosopher and was very wise,” he said of the singer, whose songwriting talent is legendary.
Singer Marcia Griffiths, who, early in her career, was part of the dynamic duo, Bob and Marcia, and who remained a friend for life, said she would want Bob Andy to know just how much she treasured him. “I will always, always remember Bob and treasure all the times we spent together,” she emphasised. “That’s one name I can never stop calling. Just like the songs says, we were always together. There are beautiful, good memories that never leave us,” the former I-Three member told The Gleaner.
LAST YEAR BIRTHDAY MEMORIES
She added, “Last year on his birthday I was there by his side. Some of us friends had gone to look for him, and music was playing and I got up and started dancing. He was on the couch, and when I went back to sit down, he said, ‘Bwoy, Marcia, ah never know that you was such a strong woman’,” Griffiths recalled. This year, a strength of another kind will be necessary as she celebrates her dear friend’s birthday, without him. “His legacy lives on in his music, and so I will be playing my favourites, one of which is Desperate Lover,” Griffiths said.
Fab Five frontman Frankie Campbell also has quite a few good memories of Bob Andy, the perfectionist. “Bob Andy and Fab Five went to Japan in 2003 for a two-week tour consisting of four shows. He was a perfectionist, always wanting the best for his audience, and his fans loved his performances. Fab Five would have played with Bob from the early 1970s until he retired a few years ago. Bob, with his vast catalogue, will be surely missed,” Campbell said.
Numbered among reggae’s most prolific songwriters, Bob Andy passed away peacefully at his St Andrew residence on March 27, when he lost his battle with cancer.
Bob Andy had his first solo hit record in 1967, I’ve Got to Go Back Home, which was followed by Desperate Lover, Feeling Soul, Unchained, and Too Experienced. He also composed songs for other reggae artistes, including I Don’t Want to See You Cry for Ken Boothe, and Feel Like Jumping, Truly, and Melody Life for Marcia Griffiths.
In the early 1970s, he recorded with Griffiths as Bob and Marcia, initially for Studio One, but later under producer Harry J’s tutelage. They had a major UK hit with Young, Gifted and Black, and he recorded Pied Piper, another top 20 UK hit, with Griffiths before they toured again.
Disillusioned with the industry, in 1978 Andy put his music career on hold and, after taking up creative dancing with the National Dance Theatre Company, concentrated on his career as an actor, starring in the films Children of Babylon in 1980, and The Mighty Quinn (1989).
He relocated to London, where he worked as a producer and recorded with Mad Professor, and later lived in Miami. The Jamaican Government conferred the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander (CD) on the legendary singer and songwriter in October 2006 for his contribution to the development of Jamaican music.