Reggae had its roots in R&B, so it would be surprising if the Stones had NOT gotten into like they did. Reggae evolved in the 1960s from ska, which was an adaptation by Jamaicans of the Louisiana R&B music that came over from New Orleans via their radios. Bob Marley, Lee Perry, Toots & the Maytals, Jimmy Cliff, Dennis Brown and Black Uhuru are some of the classic acts of reggae music.

The Stones' involvement with reggae ostensibly started when the Stones started recording their album Goats Head Soup in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1972, and when Keith thereafter purchased a home in Ocho Rios. He's lived there on and off ever since. In 1997, he produced an album of native Rastafarian music called Wingless Angels.

I usually keep up with what's going on (in reggae), like the latest stuff that's coming out of Jamaica, because they're doing a lot of things there which parallel what has gone on here, and they're just doing it now. And they've got that excitement, and they're getting some sounds which they're just not getting over here - mainly because they're not hung up by any sort of recording studio etiquette.

                                                   - Keith Richards


JIMMY CLIFF  (1948-    )

Achieving stardom in 1972 as actor and singer in the movie The Harder They Come, Jimmy Cliff helped popularize reggae along with Bob Marley, along as becoming one of its majors stars. Though he never equaled the success of that classic soundtrack album, Jimmy Cliff has had a long career as a solo artist, in addition to contributing to other artists' records.

On top of being a fan, Keith became an acquaintance of his in 1972 when he moved to Jamaica and he has jammed with him on and off through the years. Cliff wound up contributing to the Stones' Dirty Work album in 1985.


Donaldson's claim to fame is the reggae hit Cherry Oh Baby, which he wrote. He started making records in the '70s and is still doing so today. He's worked with Lee Perry among others.

The Stones' cover of Cherry Oh Baby helped reggae getting better known to rock audiences.


Developed in Jamaica in the 1980s, the dancehall style was the meeting of reggae with nascent hip hops. It featured drum machines, faster reggae rhythms, and rapping in addition to singing. One of its stars was Half Pint, whose 1983 song Too Rude the Stones covered for Dirty Work.

BOB MARLEY  (1945-1981)

Born in Jamaica, Marley helped popularize reggae to white audiences. A great writer of songs and spreader of Rastafarian spirituality, he is still the most acclaimed artist in reggae's history. Formed in 1963, his band the Wailers started cutting records in Jamaica in those years and evolved along with the evolution of Jamaican music (ska, rock steady, reggae). Signed by Island Records in 1972, Marley made classic albums until his death.

The Stones never covered any Marley material but they appreciated his music and he opened for them at some shows in 1975.

On their current 2005-06 A Bigger Bang World Tour, the Stones have performed Marley's Get Up, Stand Up.

LEE "SCRATCH" PERRY  (1936-     )

Born in Jamaica, Lee Perry is the most influential producer in the history of Jamaican reggae. He basically invented dub, which is the rhythm track of a song with just little bits of vocals added to it. In addition, he produced many, many of the great artists of the 1970s, including some work for Bob Marley. He was very influential as a producer, mixer and songwriter. He went on to produce the punk band The Clash.

Lee Perry (influenced me a lot)... A lot of Jamaican reggae interests me because they have a lovely, wide-open concept about recording, which the rest of us are slowly coming around to. For them, a console (mixing table) is as much an instrument as a drum or a guitar. They don't have any of the preconceived rules that we have ingrained in us from our earlier recording days; you MUST fade things out slow, very genteel. They'll just go Whack! Bang! and drop out an instrument.

                                                   - Keith Richards, 1983

Written by Ian McPherson, 2000-05.
Like all files on Time Is On Our Side, it is the exclusive intellectual property
of Ian McPherson and cannot be duplicated, in any form, without his authorization.

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