Inner Circle

Inner Circle is a Jamaican reggae group. The group was formed in 1968 by the brothers Ian and Roger Lewis in Jamaica. With Jacob Miller as their frontman and lead singer the band was one of the most popular in Jamaica during the 70’s, and one of few reggae bands that performed live. They are responsible for the 1987 song “Bad Boys,” which serves as the theme song for Fox Network’s long-running television program COPS. However, at first they covered soul and R&B hits from the United States, and then also a few reggae songs, predominantly from Bob Marley.

Career

The band released its debut album in 1974 on the famed record label, Trojan Records, and resigned in 1979 to Island Records, where the internationally successful album Everything Is Great originated. This album reached top 20 in the UK and preceded their other chart success by some years.

The original Inner Circle included Ibo Cooper (keyboards), Stephen Cat Core (guitar), Funky Brown (vocals), Prilly (vocals), Ian and Roger Lewis, and Mr. Lewis. The band’s residence was originally on Holborn Road in New Kingston. In latter years they had a horn section that included Douglas Gutherie on alto sax and Leighton Johnson on trumpet; both were former members of the Excelsior High School band. During that time the band toured extensively to North America and Bermuda. At the end of this time, Ibo and Cat started their own band, Third World, whose hits included, “Now That We Found Love” and “Ninety Six Degrees in the Shade”. Ibo, Cat, and Funky Brown were at this time students of the University of the West Indies studying for various degrees.

The band were joined by New York Session guitarist ‘Joe Ortiz’ () dubbed by the band as GITZY who added the first touches of hard rock, jazz, and blues to the group. Joe recorded at Compass Point Studios for the Eveything Is Great Album on Island Records and later joined the group for their European Tour in 1978-1980. Joe also played on the title track for the album New Age Music. Wherever you find a greatest hits album, Joe will most likely feature – particularly on the live recordings which were made during the UK leg of the European tour. The band appeared in the reggae cult film Rockers in 1978.

Jacob Miller, the frontman and lead singer, was killed in a car crash on , 1980. After the loss of Miller, Inner Circle broke up, but in 1982 the band reformed to release another album called Something So Good. In 1986 Ian and Roger Lewis re-established Inner Circle with the singer Calton Coffie, and the band experienced a comeback with the album Black Roses.

In 1987, Inner Circle released the song “Bad Boys.” California guitarist, Dave Gonzales, joined the band for a tour in 1989. Since then, the band calls itself “The Bad Boys of Reggae”. They had another big hit with the 1992 song “Sweat (A La La La La Long with Bob Marley)”, which was a #3 hit in the UK while “Bad Boys” had languished at #52. It was their second (and last) American hit, reaching #16 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The lead singer Calton Coffie was ill for a long period in 1995 and decided after his recuperation to start a solo career. He was later replaced by Kris Bentley. In 2008 Junior Jazz became lead singer.

Today, members of the group run Circle House, one of the most popular and respected recording studios in Miami.

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