Jimmy Riley the year to year singer


By: Joseph Cunningham

jimmyriley_reggaetaurusriley.jpgIt's in the genetics. This famous adage applies to Reggae's hottest current 'blood-line', Jimmy and Taurus Riley.

Taurus Riley is the hottest crooner in Reggae music and his father is a living legend. Yardflex caught up with Jimmy Riley during a recording session, and he obliged to give an impromptu interview. "I am an artiste with history. This makes me more than just another singer," he said. He then proceeded to tell the tale of his musical journey.

His career started while still a student at St. Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) in Jamaica, with a group called The Sensations. Jimmy reminisced on how he formed the group after being denied entry into another boy group called The Techniques. He said, "This was a group formed and led by Slim Smith, who was my best friend at the time; however I did not take the group seriously until I turned on the radio one afternoon and heard their song being played."

Although Jimmy had already formed his own group, he still wanted to sing with his friend, Slim Smith. Fortuitously for young Jimmy there was a split among the members of the Techniques, and he got his wish. Jimmy along with Slim Smith and Lloyd Tyrell then formed The Uniques.

Recording with Duke Reid, a leading producer at the time, gave Jimmy Riley national attention, as the group scored a number 1 hit with a song titled My Conversation. The song started a meteoric rise for Jimmy's career, as The Uniques became a leading group in the country with a total of three songs on the local Reggae top ten chart simultaneously.

However, tragedy struck while the group was at the heights of its popularity when its leader, Slim Smith died in a motor vehicle accident. At this point Jimmy reunited with The Techniques, comprised of Pat Kelly and Winston Riley, continuing with the group until he embarked on a solo career. The loss of his best friend had a devastating effect on him, so Jimmy migrated to the U. S.

After being encouraged by fellow artistes not to 'sit' on his musical talent, he took the trip back to the Jamaica. This proved to be the real start of his musical legacy. He joined the Taxi Label, a camp of artistes comprising the likes of Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Black Uhuru and others. The late 1970s going into the early 80s is the period known to be the highest point of Jimmy Riley's career. Four number one hits in succession made him a bona fide star. He said, "In the same way that you see my son Taurus breaking out, that was how I took over the airwaves." He had close to ten number one songs during this period. During this period he had developed a close musical relationship with Sly Dunbar, working together on many projects that gave Sly his initial recognition as 'top-flight' producer, locally and internationally.

After touring the world and becoming an official international Reggae star, Jimmy took a hiatus during the late 80s, living in Miami, Florida.

At the start of the 1990s he returned to Jamaica to commence another episode of his legacy." When I returned to Jamaica a number of persons asked me what did I intend to achieve. Persons in the music industry said it was Dancehall time," he recalled. However with a smile on his face he said he recorded a song titled, Its Gonna Get Rougher, which went straight to number one. At this point he said he was given the alias,' Done di place' by fellow artistes. "They said that whenever Jimmy Riley comes around he takes over," he said while laughing.

Jimmy Riley said that one of the principles that he has adopted throughout his career is, 'Quality over Quantity'. "I do not have 40 or 50 album like most people," he asserted. To date, the musical icon has only completed six albums whilst doing innumerable singles. His career was as good as gold all over again, when he voiced on one of Reggae music's all time greatest projects. His mega hit Love You Too Much to Ever Stop Liking You, in collaboration with Wayne Wade, is arguably what made him the legend he is today. On that same rhythm are songs like Garnett Silk's, Oh Me Oh My and Tinga Stewart's, Inside my Heart.

Jimmy Riley is currently working on a new album that will be a combination of old and new singles, being produced by Sly and Robby. Further he revealed that he is also completing an album with Harmony House, of which the great Beresford Hammond is CEO. Current songs voiced by Jimmy Riley are getting steady rotation on the airwaves, chief among them, My Girl and Taking time to Praise Him.

In conjunction with Taurus, Jimmy Riley will appear at Roots Bamboo in Negril later this month, and the Port Royal Festival in late August where he will share the stage with Brian McKnight.