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Since "Black skin, blue eyed boys" through "Living on the Frontline", Eddy Grant has been recognised as a vociferous promoter, through socio-political commentary, of the culture and achievements of contemporary black people. Eddy’s meticulous method of recording is to a great degree responsible for his reputation – he has played every single instrument, sung every vocal part and produced every track on all of his solo albums – a time consuming and little known fact, which only a man of his committed vision could so painstakingly ensue.
Born in the Caribbean nation of Guyana in 1948, Eddy was exposed during his childhood to the distinctive local fusion of African and Indian music which is indigenous to Guyana. As a pre-teen, his musician father moved the family to Stoke ington, North London. In the stark, post-war late fifties/ early sixties suburban environment, he was exposed to the rock and roll of Chuck Berry and the nascent pop music scene. This early combination of ethnic and commercial pop influences culminated in Eddy founding the Equals, probably the finest and certainly the first multi-racial pop/rock outfit to achieve international acclaim. The Equals topped the chart with their classic "Baby Come Back," and with Eddy as songwriter, lead guitarist and producer, they went on to achieve three more major top 10 hits in the following 18 months.
At 21, the pressures of his hectic recording and touring schedules took its toll. Though a tea-totaler and a staunch vegetarian, Grant suffered a severe heart attack which forced him to undertake a major evaluation of his future. He canceled all touring activities and disbanded The Equals. During the ensuing period of introspection, Eddy opened his own recording studio in order to record at his pace and to help cultivate the careers of other artists he had discovered. Subsequently, during the 1970’s, he began the process now crystallized in his more recent albums to merge the influences of early pop, rock and soul with the calypso music of the Caribbean countries and the African rhythms of his childhood, to form a unique hybrid – the influential sound of Soca music.
Music of the Islands
Grant recorded what is generally recognized by the cognoscenti as the very first Soca record "Hello Africa" and this remains a classic golden oldie in many parts of the world inhabited by Soca aficionados. He has successfully fostered leading Soca artists such as David Rudder, Tamu Herbert, Gabby and Grynner, and thanks in no small part to Eddy Grant’s patronage, music now enjoys an expanding popularity in all corners of the world.
Grant’s enthusiasm and devotion to his musical heritage continues. He recently acquired the record and song catalogues of Calypsonian legends: "Mighty Sparrow", the "Roaring Lion" and "Lord Kitchener", in order to personally preserve, and to introduce to a wider audience, this historic and important musical heritage. This passionate interest in African rhythm and Soca, and his individualistic style has put a lasting influence on a range of other artists, as diverse as Sting, UB40, The Rolling Stones,
and even The Clash who covered his "Police on my Back" for their celebrated ‘Sandinista’ album.
Commercially, the first half of the 1980’s was enormously successful for Eddy Grant; in less than four years he enjoyed eight major international hit singles, including the US#1 – "Electric Avenue", "I Don’t Wanna Dance" and "Romancing the Stone". By that time he had established his own label, Ice Records, with which he astutely avoided the pitfalls of many long since formed, failed and forgotten independent labels, by tapping into the distribution muscle of the major companies (viz. Phonogram, Virgin, RCA and EMI) without ever losing control of either his music, or his destiny.
When the mid-eighties pressure of his solo success again threatened to compromise his ly defined gameplan, Eddy moved his family back to the Caribbean, not to his birthplace of Guyana, but as a compromise with commercial reality, to the island of Barbados, where communications with the outside world were more highly developed.
Here, he again built a commercial studio complex known as Blue Wave, whose clients have included Mick Jagger, Sting and Elvis Costello and where the Rolling Stones prepared for their
Garangutan "Steel Wheels" tour. His excursions from this temporary sanctuary have been mainly for live performances at such events as the "Sport Aid" stadium show, ground breaking concerts in Yugloslavia, Russia, Cuba and South America, and the "Farewell to the GLC" concert which he headlined at the Crystal Palace Bowl.
However, his studio is at the center of his drive to record, promote and market calypso, Soca and ‘Ringbang’. This genre that is sweeping the Caribbean by storms a distinctly Caribbean musical concept that Grant has developed, that he loosely defines as a "bridge between rhythms, focusing one’s attention on rhythm and the part it plays internationally. What Ringbang seeks to do is envelop all the rhythms that have originated from Africa so that they become one, defying all geographical boundaries."
Over the past twelve years Eddy Grant has been assiduously acquiring all the old calypso catalogs of such greats as Roaring Lion, Sparrow, Melody and Kitchener. At the same time, the label has been signing most of today’s hottest Soca exponent. As Grant wrestles with the day to day problems of setting up a profitable recording company as President and CEO of his company, he must confront sales, promotion and marketing nightmare, the direct consequence of the traditionally seasonal aspect of calypso. He asserts that music pirates in the Caribbean are the biggest culprits, keeping the production and packaging quality down. However, he is passionately committed to the artists and the music of the region, and believes that with proper management, these artists can indeed finally start to profit from their artform. With offices in Barbados, London, and the United States, Ice Records has become in a few short years the premier international calypso, Soca and Ringbang record label. The company is aggressive and does continuous marketing research to determine what will make these genres, the last "unexploited" English-speaking music in the world, the mega-hits that they surely deserve to be. In 1995, Gabby’s "Dr. Cassandra and Roaring Lion’s "Papa Chunks" broke the previous sales records many times over. As Eddy says, "in my heart, I know that Soca and Ringbang have the same potential as reggae to achieve great popularity… but there has never been any proper commitment to marketing these artists and their music. We are not Sony, and the artists on board realise it will take time. It is an upliftment process." Without a doubt, this music has finally found someone prepared to put his money, time, talent and, perhaps most importantly, love, right there where his mouth is.
Another Look at Eddy...
The writer who penned the words, "having it all" undoubtedly was talking about Eddy Grant, the international recording artist, song writer, and producer.
Happily married for more than three decades to his childhood sweetheart, the lovely and unforgettable Anne, he is the proud father of four fantastic children, who walk in the sunshine of their father's giant footsteps. Adding more good fortune to the foregoing facts, Eddy, whose international hits include "Electric Avenue", "I Don't Wanna Dance", "Living On The Frontline", and "Gimme Hope, Jo'anna", to mention a few for starters, is the owner of Blue Wave Recording Studios - East, and South, his own music publishing companies, and the magnificent nightclub the, Pepperpot, all located on the island of Barbados, in the Caribbean.
Deserving is the word that best sums up Eddy, the gentleman who, "has it all". Life wasn't always a ribbon of sunshine for the hard working artist, whose exhaustive workaholic lifestyle - writing, recording, and touring with the EQUALS - caused him to have a severe heart attach at the tender age of twenty-one.
Revamping his career goals, Eddy opened his own recording studio, started his own label, and decided on a solo career. Highly successful around the world, Eddy decided to leave England, and make his home and workplace, Barbados.
It is on the Island, where his studio is located that he wrote, recorded, and produced the album, "Killer On The Rampage", also "Paintings Of The Soil", an album three years in making. His follow-up album, "Soca Baptism", provided the opportunity for Eddy to sing, in his own inimitable style, Calypso hits of yesteryear.
With a keen sense of history, Eddy has moved forward to amass the largest catalogue of Calypso music in the world. He has preserved, for generations to come, role models of the Calypso artform by diligently seeking out the earliest works of the Calypso greats, Atilla, Roaring Lion, Sparrow, Kitchener, Spoiler, King Fighter, Mighty Terror, etc. His catalogue is not limited to Calypsonians alone. Eddy will delight collectors when his label begins to issue the music of the early steel bands, and the orchestral sounds of Ron Berridge, Clarence Curvan, Joey Lewis, Johnny Gommez and others.
In 1994, Pato Banton, along with the Campbell Brothers of UB-40, made a cover of Eddy's 1968 hit, at that time recorded by the, EQUALS, "Baby Come Back", and took it, for the second time, to the top of the British Charts.
Compliments of Ice
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