The Bad Boys of Reggae, Inner Circle still Golden at 50

by Howard Campbell

MIAMI – In 1987, the Inner Circle band released Bad Boys, a catchy reggae song that would spell their second coming.

It had enough sass to impress producers of Cops, a reality crime show on a fledgling network named Fox, to pick it up as a theme song.

Six years later, Inner Circle were still riding high with Bad Boys and Sweat (A La La La La Long), a funky track that was also a worldwide hit.

The following year, the group won a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album with Bad Boys.

Inner Circle celebrates their 50th anniversary in 2018.

On Saturday (November 25), they kick off activities to mark that milestone with a free concert at Shirley Branca Park in Miramar.

“It’s kinda giving back to the community. Miramar have a large Jamaican an’ West Indian community an’ wi want people come out an’ enjoy themselves,” said Ian Lewis, the group’s bass player.

The Bad Boys of Reggae, Inner Circle

Inner Circle

Inner Circle Band formed in 1968

Lewis and his older Roger, who plays guitar, co-founded Inner Circle in 1968 with keyboardist Michael ‘Ibo’ Cooper and guitarist Steven ‘Cat’ Coore. Five years later, Cooper and Coore left to start Third World.

Inner Circle launches Circle House Studios

Inner Circle have been through many changes, but the Lewis siblings have held firm to establish themselves as reggae’s best known entity in Miami, their home base for over 35 years.

They operate a multi-faceted studio there, which has hosted the biggest names in pop music: Diddy, Janet Jackson, Jay Z, Beyonce, Pitbull, Sean Paul and Shaggy.

“We are like a brand now. Everybody passing through town know Inner Circle, not jus’ through Bad Boys an’ Sweat,” said Lewis.

Interestingly, Inner Circle had a career before those Top 10 hits. The Lewis boys and Cooper played on Cherry Oh Baby, Eric Donaldson’s timeless ballad that won the 1971 Festival Song Contest in Jamaica.

The following year, Inner Circle backed the bandwagon of artists which successfully campaigned for Michael Manley heading up to Jamaica’s general elections.

For much of the 1970s, the band was led by a chunky singer named Jacob Miller whose powerful vocals can be heard on classic songs like Tenement Yard, Tired Fi Lick Weed In A Bush and Forward Ever, Backward Never.

Miller died in a motor accident in March, 1980 at age 27 just as he and the band were set to take off internationally. It would be another decade, and in another city, that that promise materialized.

Inner Circle plan to honor Miller during their golden anniversary next year. They have a play, Tenement Yard, in the works as well as a free concert, possibly at Jamaica College, their alma mater.

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