by Howard Campbell
KINGSTON, Jamaica – It was a packed room of family, musicians and dignitaries at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel on October 24 for a function honoring Roger and Ian Lewis, who received the Order of Distinction (OD) from the Jamaican government three days earlier.
The brothers arrived two hours before the National Honours and Awards ceremony at King’s House, and accepted their awards from Governor General Sir Patrick Allen. The OD is Jamaica’s sixth highest civic honor.
Taki Miller, son of Jacob Miller, Inner Circle’s former lead singer, also received an OD on behalf of his father who died in 1980 at age 27.
Inner Circle bandmates — keyboardist Bernard “Touter” Harvey, drummer Lancelot Hall and vocalist Trevor “Skatta” Bonnick — attended both events.
Guitarist Stephen “Cat” Coore of Third World, an early member of Inner Circle, was also there to show support.
Several musicians who are contemporaries of Inner Circle were at the Pegasus including bass guitarist Lloyd Parks, keyboardists Robbie Lyn and (former member) Charlie Roberts, guitarist Wayne Armond; former manager Tommy Cowan and his wife, singer Carlene Davis, Marcia Griffiths, Dr. Peter Phillips, leader of the Opposition People’s National Party, who was a schoolmate of Roger and Ian Lewis at Jamaica College; and veteran tour manager Copeland Forbes.
“It was a great vibe, wi see a lot of people wi never see in years. People were giving us congrats some places we went…it was nice,” said Ian, younger of the brothers.
Roger and Ian Lewis were born in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital. They grew up in Mona, a middle-class neighborhood close to the University of the West Indies campus where their father worked as a librarian.
In 1969, they formed Inner Circle which became a popular show band, mainly at events in Kingston. The Lewis boys also played on Cherry Oh Baby, the Festival Song winner in 1971, and The Wailers’ Bob 1973 classic, Stir it Up.
Inner Circle hit their stride during the mid and late 1970s with the ebullient Miller on vocals. Their hit songs with him include Forward Ever, Backward Never, Standing Firm and Tenement Yard.
The band is synonymous with Miami where they have lived for over 35 years. It is where they recorded the massive hits, Sweat and Bad Boys, which earned them a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1994.