Johnny Clarke is a pioneer of reggae music, dropping fiery roots records in the ’70s, crossing over to dancehall in the ’80s, and remaining active nonstop since then. His strong performances and songwriting make him one of Jamaica’s most brilliant and accomplished artists.
At a young age, Clarke won talent contests and recorded for a number of different studios before teaming up with Bunny Lee and his band The Aggrovators in 1974. “None Shall Escape the Judgement”, written by Earl Zero, was an immediate success and became the title track on Clarke’s debut album.
More popular records followed, with multiple albums per year including highlights like the 1975 “I’m Gonna Put It On,” his 1976 cover of Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry,” and the iconic 1976 classic record and Clarke’s best known album “Rockers Time Now.”
Released on Virgin Records, “Rockers Time Now” epitomized Lee’s “flying cymbals” production approach. The “flying cymbal” or “flyers” style was part of reggae’s mid-’70s evolution, a key stepping-stone in its shift from a fast-paced dance music to the slower, rhythmic and bass-heavy style of the later ‘70s and ‘80s. King Tubby mixed some of his best-loved dubs from the vocal versions presented on this album.
Clarke was named Artist of the Year in Jamaica in both 1975 and 1976, and became one of the most popular singers on the island, mixing original songs with covers of popular reggae songs, and crossing over seamlessly from roots to Lovers Rock.
Clarke worked with Mad Professor and other producers in the ’80s. The duo produced “Yard Style LP” in 1983, a collection with several hits including the eerie and apocalyptic “Nuclear Weapon.” Clarke had been moving toward more of a dancehall style at this time, and subsequent work like “Think About It” in 1988 and “Rock with Me” in 1995 delved deeper into digital dancehall rhythms and production.
Johnny Clarke’s music epitomizes his faith as a Rasta and the beliefs of Rastafari, including anti-violence, as on “Let Go Violence,” and legalization of marijuana in “Legalize It.’ Clarke’s much loved music has continued to reach new listeners over the years, and he has continued recording and performing up to today. Johnny will be backed by the legendary Soul Syndicate at SNWMF 2023.
None Shall Escape (1974) Total Sounds
Moving Out (1975) Total Sounds
Enter Into His Gates With Praise (1975)
Sings In Fine Style (1975)
I’m Gonna Put It On (1975) Vulcan
No Woman No Cry (1976) Total Sounds
Authorised Version (1976) Frontline
Rocker’s Time Now (1976) Frontline
Don’t Stay Out Late (1976) Paradise
Up Park Camp (1977) Justice
Girl I Love You (1977) Justice
Sweet Conversation (1978) Third World
King of the Arena (1978) Third World
Satisfaction (1979) Third World
Down In a Babylon (1980) Cha Cha
I Man Come Again (1982) Black Music
Yard Style (1983) Ariwa
Reggae Party (1984)
Sly & Robbie Present the Best of Johnny Clarke (1985) Vista Sounds
Give Thanks (1985) Ariwa
Enter into His Gates with praise (1989) Attack
Rasta Nuh Fear (1992) Sonic Sounds
Don’t trouble trouble (1994) Attack
Rock With Me (1997)
Reggae Heights (2003) Mafia & Fluxy
Jamaica 50 Johnny Clarke Sing Then Dub Them (2012), Hit Machine