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Interview: Johnny Clarke

Interview: Johnny Clarke

Interview: Johnny Clarke

By on - Photos by Anna Thunander - 5 comments

"I've been surviving all these years and I'm still strong"

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Johnny Clarke

Johnny Clarke embraces new technology

Jamaican singer Johnny Clarke was a veritable hit machine for producer Bunny Lee in the 70’s. Nowadays he isn’t as consistent with his recordings as he is with touring. But he survives, as he says to United Reggae after his show at Uppsala Reggae Festival.

Johnny Clarke was together with producer Bunny Lee a musical pioneer in Jamaica. In the 70’s they began versioning or relick older riddims into something new and at the time contemporary.

Together with Bunny Lee and drummer Santa Davis he also established the so called flying cymbals sound. Tunes such as his breakthrough hit None Shall Escape the Judgement as well as Enter into His Gates with Praise were in the funky and driven drumming style known as flying cymbals.

Today he is independent and works with a variety of producers, such as Gussie P and Soothsayers in the UK. Mostly it seems like he spends his days touring the world and spreading his message.

“I’ve been surviving all these years and I’m still strong,” he says when we meet in the press tent backstage about 30 minutes after his performance – a set jam-packed with classics from the 70’s.

Johnny ClarkeJohnny Clarke explains that music is history and that people need to realize that there is so much great music out there.

“Foundation they say. People need to know about us. We’re part of the musical history,” he explains.

New possibilities

Johnny Clarke seems intrigued with the new realities in the music business and embraces the new possibilities that it gives. He is particularly fond of the fact that young people easily can access music that he and his contemporaries made in the 70’s.

“This music is current to them [younger generation]. It’s new music. CD and the Internet make the music sound new again,” he believes, and adds:

“It will never die.”

Several opportunities for artists

But the Internet has meant a great deal of challenges for labels around the globe. For Johnny it’s all about staying positive and he views it from another angle.

“There is lots of piracy. But it’s both positive and negative. There are lots of promotion opportunities for the artists,” he explains, and continues:

“There are so many ways for us artists to earn money – song writing, live shows and publishing. We survive.”

He emphasizes that it’s important to stay positive and to learn how you can use the new opportunities for yourself.

“I can’t run them [the pirates] down. I can’t travel to the four corners of the world. I achieve what I can achieve. Try and go for it in a legal way. I’m not suffering and I’m not desperate. It’s all about being satisfied. Hold on to what you’ve got,” he concludes.

Johnny Clarke

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Read comments (5)


Posted by Dom K on 10.08.2011
Big respect, Johnny! You are a legend!

Posted by jah mangrove on 10.08.2011
Johnny Clarke there is a humble man. I remember buying Visions of Johnny Clarke, rastaman from creation. My favourite song from Johnny is Young Rebel. A great singer who deserves widestream success, his voice is instantly recognisable. One love to the man Johnny Clarke. Ital is vital.

Posted by Danison on 01.05.2012
Big up, Johnny Clarke, the king in the arena

Posted by roy on 05.17.2012
Creation Rebel is one of the greatest songs of all time. Big up JC

Posted by RAS D.O.M I on 02.18.2014
di rastaman fi a powerful man. mi love yoy johnny haffi come to south africa with di rebel salute.

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