Keith Anderson more commonly known as "Bob Andy" is arguably Jamaica's most respected songwriter.
Interested, no let's make that "captivated" by music from an early age in Kingston Jamaica where he grew up, a chain of events led him to Studio One on Brentford Road. Studio One by the mid 1960's had become the Motown of the Jamaican music scene. Built and controlled by the estimable Clement "Coxsone" Dodd Studio One was a recording studio, record label (dozens of labels in fact), sound system, music school and manufacturing facility.
Studio One launched the careers of dozens, perhaps hundreds of singers, musicians, and songwriters that created what the world knows today as reggae, and took that music from its status as obscure third world music craze to international cultural phenomenon a fact driven home to me in the 1970's when I heard my mom singing "Three Little Birds" while she was hoovering the living room.
There were other music labels and other studios and other producers in Jamaica and they all played a part, but it was Studio One that was first and foremost in influence and resonance.
It was here in this artistic hot-spot that Bob was able to foment his talent. The way he tells it recording at Studio One was a collaborative process with singers helping each other, the older ones schooling the younger ones the most well-known example of this being the established Joe Higgs drilling newcomers Bob, Peter, and Bunny aka "The Wailing Wailers" in harmony etc.
Bob Andy like many, many others in those times of the early 60's when vocal groups could be found on every street corner of the Bronx, Chicago, Philadelphia, or Kingston, started a vocal group called "The Paragons". They had a number one hit for Studio One penned by Bob Andy called "Love at last" and they were on their way. John Holt joined the Paragons but as Bob felt their voices were too similar he opted to go solo. He wrote and recorded a smash hit called "I've Got to Go Back Home" that became an anthem especially for the burgeoning Jamaican diaspora forced to leave behind their beloved island home. My wife used to jokingly tell me to stop the car as she wanted to dance when she heard this song on the car radio.
Bob became friends with Jackie Mittoo the talented keyboardist and director of the Studio One house band and together they produced hit songs for themselves and many others. Bob wrote hit after hit such as "Feeling Soul", "Too Experienced", "Going Home", "Unchained", :My Time", "Fire Burning" and after teaming up with Marcia Griffiths did a huge cover of Nina Simone's "Young, Gifted and Black" which was a hit in the UK as well. Bob has acted in films and continued to write and record and is in fact about to relaunch in 2012 with a follow up to "Reggae Songbook" his classic monster album for which he has not received one penny in royalties though that will hopefully change soon.
Bob's songs have been covered by over 50 different artistes and in Jamaica alone his hits are re-recorded seemingly by each new generation of singers at least by the ones who recognise great songwriting when they hear it.
I only got to know Bob Andy personally over the past couple of years and I have always feared meeting people whose work I have admired as many times the human behind the work may not be...well, let's say the experience may be a disappointment. In Bob's case the opposite has been true and in fact I have gotten to see that he is a very special and charismatic person and in this case the art he has produced comes from an intelligent, thoughtful, caring man who is loved and appreciated by many and not just his fellow musicians.
Here's a couple of links to Bob songs and if interested you can do your own google and youtube searches, I believe you will be hooked too.