The legendary reggae artist tours in support of new album, his first in more than five years, with a stop in Atlantic City on June 9. He talks about his new album, "Existence," and his classic film, which may soon get a sequel.
You can get in touch with Jimmy Cliff if you really want.
But you’ll have to call Paris.
That’s where the 62-year-old reggae legend, who appears at the House of Blues at Showboat in Atlantic City on Wednesday, June 9, has lived for several years, splitting his time between the city of love and his other home in Kingston, Jamaica.
And after hearing talk about a new album and reading rave reviews about Cliff’s recent performance at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th induction ceremony — Rolling Stone called him “the evening’s standout performer” adding that he showcased a voice “that is preserved to startling perfection” — we just had to place that long distance call to the singer of such classics as “Vietnam,” “Many Rivers to Cross.” “The Harder They Come” and “You Can Get It If You Really Want.”
Jimmy Cliff on UK TV singing “Many Rivers to Cross” (check out the specs):
Reaching the Jamaican-born singer, songwriter, actor and producer across the globe, the humble international star discussed Existence, his first new studio album since 2004’s Black Magic; about being recently inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and about the 25th anniversary of the American release of his film and music masterpiece, The Harder They Come, which launched Cliff into worldwide superstardom and put reggae on the world’s radar. Atlantic City will be the second stop on Cliff’s current tour of America, his first in five years.
It’s the 35th anniversary of the American release of The Harder They Come. What do you remember about that time?
It was a very exciting and a little bit confusing time for me. It was exciting because it was what I had worked hard to achieve and at the same time, you know, it was a situation of stepping into a new sphere of things and not finding my balance quite well [yet]. When one steps up the ladder a bit one has to find a way to balance and I had not quite found it. So I was learning how to balance, but even trying to balance things was exciting.
You were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year. What did that mean to you?
Well, it was like a kind of a springboard to more power, more glory, more success, to aspirations that I have yet to achieve and it was gratifying to see that the past work had been recognized by [my] peers.
From different reports, it sounds like your performance of “The Harder They Come” at the induction ceremony was the highlight of the evening.
Well, yeah, all three songs [came off well] yes, and it was good to see quite a few people there that I had admired. Green Day, [for instance], is a young modern rock band that I like and Bruce Springsteen who’s still going strong and quite a few others. So yeah, it was a really nice evening.
Did you have any good conversations with anyone that you hadn’t seen for a while?
Yeah, all those that I just mentioned came over and said hi and congratulated me. Phil Collins and most of the people that were there came over and said hello. I was sitting most of the night with Eric Burdon of the Animals.
To be the second reggae artist after Bob Marley to be inducted, that must make you feel pretty proud.
Yeah, it was quite special I must say. You know, with reggae not being a British brand or an American brand, it’s a Jamaican brand, so yeah it was pretty special.
Plus, Wildwood Tattoo event, the Album of the Week and Drew Toonz.
Sammy’s will be open the weekend of May 18-20, in tandem with Hagar’s band Chickenfoot playing the House of Blues that Friday night, May 18, then the Wailers will kick off Sammy’s summer season and daily schedule through Labor Day with a special Friday, May 25, performance at 8pm.
The Wrecking Crüe
Laughing with George Lopez
Fight Night at Boardwalk Hall