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
In 1970, international recognition came when Bob and Marcia
Griffiths recorded Nina Simone’s “Young, Gifted and Black”,
which sold 1/2 million in the UK and Europe, and still receives
frequent airplay today. 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 was the Tropical Soundtracs label’s
A&R manager. He and Marcia reunited for the Kemar LP, 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
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.” Then began a five
year absence from the music scene as Bob became increasingly
involved in acting. 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 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 International
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 music by
such artists 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.
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
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 musicians 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 12 Tribes.
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.
Most recently, Bob’s new compositions include two successful
singles recorded for the Altafaan label: “Create Our History”
with Luciano (2006), and “Almighty Dolla” (spring 2007).
It has often been noted that the mark of a great artist is the
continued production of notable works throughout his lifetime. A
veritable explosion of cover versions of Bob’s songs and rhythms
has already introduced a new generation of fans to his music.
Bob’s audience will have much to savour as they as become
familiar with his current songs, which will only serve to
further enhance one of the most distinctive and distinguished
bodies of work in Jamaica’s musical history.