by Howard Campbell
SOUTH FLORIDA – In a 2005 interview with NPR Radio, singer Bobby Caldwell spoke about his love for West Indian culture, especially Jamaican music. In fact, he had an indirect link to reggae legend Bob Marley.
“Most of my childhood was spent in Miami, which was a dumping ground for all kinds of music — Haitian, reggae, Latin, pop, R&B, culture. I mean, it was really a diversified city. But my mom, who was a real estate broker, sold Bob Marley his home in Miami, and I became friends with Bob Marley through friends and we became close enough to where I actually had felt as though I had been to Jamaica,” Caldwell recalled.
The blue-eyed soul artist, best known for the 1978 slow jam What You Won’t Do For Love, died on March 14 in New Jersey. His much covered/sampled hit single was released in 1978, three years before Bob Marley died in a Miami hospital at age 36.
What You Won’t Do For Love was distributed by TK Records, an independent Miami company famous for releasing a number of disco hits by KC and The Sunshine Band, and George and Gwen McCrae, during the mid-1970s.
TK Records was owned by Henry Stone whose close friend was Noel “King Sporty” Williams, a colorful Jamaican singer/producer who co-wrote Buffalo Soldier with Marley.
Marley, whose mother, Cedella Booker, lived in Miami since the early 1970s, was a regular visitor to the Magic City where he often hung out with King Sporty who was the spouse of soul singer Betty Wright.
Caldwell was also a session guitarist/keyboardist at TK Records. He befriended several Jamaican musicians including members of the Inner Circle band who settled in Miami shortly after Marley’s death.
In 1982, Caldwell released Jamaica, a song he wrote in tribute to Marley.