To anyone who’s familiar with the band’s 20-year-plus history in the reggae field and their immense popularity around the world-there’s much more to Inner Circle than what meets the eye. Indeed, this Jamaican-bred, Grammy winning quintet is one of the world’s most respected reggae groups with a long string of successes stretching back to the mid-70′s.
Inner Circle’s special brand of pop-oriented Jamaican beats and energy -filled live performances have allowed the band to transcend the traditional reggae niche and enjoy widespread crossover appeal. A testament to this is the fact that Inner Circle plays at many of the world’s largest music festivals-headlining alongside such towering pop and rock music icons as Elton John, Peter Gabriel, Van Morrison, Sinead O’Conner, The Black Crowes, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Carlos Santana, and many others.
Along the way, the group has withstood two-and-a-half decades of triumph and tragedy, thanks to a shared belief in music’s power to unite and heal, and to the intensely loyal sense of family that’s kept the band vital through some turbulent times.” In 1978, while playing for the now infamous Reggae Peace Concert (a historic event ..ed in the film Heartland Reggae, which featured Bob Marley and Peter Tosh), the band achieved a major breakthrough when Chris Blackwell signed the group to Island Records. That same year, they achieved substantial commercial success with the Island album Everything Is Great, which became a Top 20 hit in the U.K and a Top 10 smash in France, and produced the popular singles “Mary, Mary” and “Music Machine.”
During this period, Inner Circle also became one of the first Jamaican groups to tour in the U.S. The band’s burgeoning fortunes were shattered in 1980, however, when vocalist Jacob Miller was killed in a car crash. Devastated by Miller’s loss, the band did not return to the studio until six years with new lead singer Calton. The regrouped combo was completed with the addition of drummer Lancelot Hall in 1985. Inner Circle achieved new levels of international success in the 1990s.
The title track of the album Bad Boys became a Number One hit in almost every European territory and sold approximately seven million copies worldwide; and “Sweat (A La La La La Long)” exploded across the world, simultaneously topping the charts in several countries in Asia, South America, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the European continent-where it became the most-played record ever in Germany and remained at 1 for a full three months.
After winning a 1993 Grammy for Best Reggae Album with “Bad Boys,” the band scored again with the 1994 album Reggae Dancer, which earned another Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album. That disc featured the breezy “Summer Jammin’,” featured in the soundtrack of Eddie Murphy’s film Beverly Hills Cop III. Meanwhile, the durable “Bad Boys” became a hit again when it was used as a title song for the Will Smith/Martin Lawrence action film of the same name.
Unfortunately, at around this time lead singer Calton fell ill, necessitating a lengthy recovery period. In his absence, the band connected with Kingston native Kris Bentley, former lead singer of the popular Jamaican group Skool and winner of the 1994 Caribbean Music Song Festival. When Calton opted for a solo career upon his recovery, the band invited Kris-whose personal magnetism and rapping skills added a new dimension to the band’s live performances-to join permanently.
Since 1997 Inner Circle has undertake one of its most intense periods of touring playing to enraptured crowds, often in territories where few touring acts dare to venture. “In the last three or four years, we’ve been everywhere in the world, ” says Roger Lewis. “Brazil, Guam, India, Taipei, Beirut, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Asia, India the United Arab Emirates,” continues Lancelot Hall. “To some people a world tour is North America, Europe and Japan, but not US. If it’s on the map, we’re going there.” “Traveling around the world, you really learn that everybody’s basically the same,” observes Ian Lewis.
“We are all one, regardless of our different ideas, and music is the best way to communicate that. Music is the highest language; it transcends politics, geography, skin color-it transcends all the things that separate people.” In the New Millennium , this aura of all-embracing, positive, upbeat energy is palpable and it reflects the message of unity that’s more than just a slogan for this durable, tight-knitted band. According to Touter Harvey, “The name Inner Circle means family, and that’s what we are.
We’re all devoted to the band and each other, and that’s what makes us strong. We believe in the spiritual vibes of family and friends. Our success is nothing without warm, genuine people around to share it. Being successful is day-to-day just trying to be happy and keeping it real.