More power to Inner Circle
The 1960s saw dawning of the Black Power movement in North America and the Caribbean. A decade later, Rastafari exploded in Jamaica.
Many Jamaican youth followed the protests for civil rights through radio broadcasts, or by engaging in street-corner discussions. Inner Circle founding members Ian and Roger Lewis, Michael “Ibo” Cooper of Third World fame, and current Opposition and People’s National Party (PNP) leader Dr Peter Phillips were students at Jamaica College at the time.
“We were part of a generation at Jamaica College that were influenced by progressive ideas of developing…building a more equitable society in Jamaica, a society that worked for all people and that was their (Inner Circle) mission. Jamaica College in the late ’60s was a school that was part of the fulcrum of struggle one would say,” Phillips told Jamaica Observer’s weekly Splash.
He said Inner Circle was influenced by the freedom movement and related it to music.
“They were a bit behind me in school, but all of us were very much affected by what was happening. When they left school, they needed to be engaged in this kind of ‘liberation music’ you could call it,” he said.
The band formed part of Michael Manley’s PNP Bandwagon, an islandwide campaign in 1971 that promoted his candidacy for prime minister. He was elected prime minister in February 1972.
Lead singer Jacob Miller joined the group in 1975, sparking a run of hit songs.
Phillips has a few top selections from the group, but counts Disciplined Child and I Shall Be Released as personal favourites. Miller died in a car accident in March 1980.
A former government minister, Phillips visited the Lewis brothers last year at their Circle House studio in North Miami.
“It is a world-class studio and almost, one might say, a temple of Jamaican music,” he said.