For the past three decades, audiences around the world, and in his native Jamaica, have enjoyed lyrics and sound of the history-making reggae great, Jimmy Riley. With trademark tenor vocals, Riley is a solid veteran and a superb ambassador of roots rock Reggae. He has toured the world extensively while performing in countries like Brazil, Japan and the United States of America.
His appearance in Japan was at that country’s first ever Reggae Sunsplash. Reggae Sunsplash is a long-standing high profile Reggae concert series with fans across the globe. In the United States of America, Riley has sold out many venues.
Jimmy Riley is the father and original producer of one of the most visible artists in the Reggae industry today. His name is Tarrus Riley.
Born and raised in West Kingston, Jamaica, Jimmy Riley attended Kingston Senior School where he met Keith "Slim" Smith, leader of the vocal group The Techniques. Riley had spent considerable time listening to The Techniques -- a group composed of Slim Smith, Winston Riley, Franklyn White and Bobby Davids. The Techniques sweet harmonies which received regular radio airplay, inspired Riley's interest in music. Jimmy Riley began his recording career with Duke Reid at Treasure Isle. He provided harmonies in The Sensations, who enjoyed a number of successes including 'Everyday Is Just A Holiday' and 'Those Guys', both of which have been frequently covered by other artists. Following his departure from the group, Riley joined The Uniques with Slim Smith and Lloyd Charmers.
The success of The Techniques ended when the group broke up. Slim Smith spent a time recording as a solo artist, but decided to form a new group of male singers. Smith knew of Jimmy's singing talent and invited Riley to hook up with him and Lloyd Charmers. Together they formed The Uniques, a spin-off of the Techniques. The Uniques had a brief, but successful run, recording such hits as "Let Me Go Girl", "Watch This Sound", "The Beattitudes", "Build My World" and "My Convesation". Together the trio might have continued, but producer Bunny Lee persuaded Slim Smith to resume his solo recording career. Consequently Jimmy and Lloyd became solo singers, pursuing their own careers. My first solo recording" says Jimmy, "was 'Eat Where You Sleep Last Night', and it got the attention of a club owner in London.
He sent for I to work in his club (Chagaramus) in London, England. Through his interest in reggae, I introduced him to my friend John Holt and John recorded for him the historic album '1000 Volts of Holt' . I was in the process of completing my first album through this link, when the distributor, Trojan Records, claimed bankruptcy and my album was not released. After a brief stay in New York, where he was saddened by the news that Slim Smith had died in a tragic accident, he was persuaded by "ryddim kings" Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare to return to Jamaica and start recording on their Taxi label. This is where Jimmy Riley achieved his first No. 1 record "Love and Devotion" which is still a perennial classic.
This was followed by other hit songs such as "Give Me Your Love", "I Try" "Everybody Needs Somebody", "Aint Too Proud To Beg" and others. Jimmy Riley also recorded the album "Ryddim Driven" for the Taxi label. After a brief US tour with The Wailers Band, Riley returned to Jamaica and made more hit singles such as "Hot Summer" and "Black Mothers Pray", which he released on his own label. In the late 80s Riley moved to Miami and opened a record store, but after two years away from recording, Jimmy returned to Jamaica. There, in addition to producing his own songs, Jimmy also undertook producer duties for several artists, some of which were also released on his label. During the past few years Jimmy Riley has been commanding attention in different spheres of his music career.
In 1996 Riley received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bob Marley Reggae Festival in Los Angeles, California. He continues to perform in Jamaica and to tour such countries as Brazil, Bermuda, The Bahamas and USA, giving concerts in New York, Florida and California. In his native Jamaica he is regarded as a reggae icon, a beloved and respected symbol of reggae's roots origins, and the heights to which those roots have ascended. With his new album 'Love Canticles', Jimmy Riley shows that he is still on track.