Become a Contributor

Famous All Time Reggae Artists

Famous All Time Reggae Artists

Reggae belongs to the land of Jamaica. Traveling across the Mediterranean sea, Reggae made its way to the world. As the beats that were initially intended for the African continent traversed throughout the world, so did the philosophies and words of artists like Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff. Read more..
Melodyful Staff
"One good thing about music, when it hits-you feel no pain" - Bob Marley

Reggae was first developed in the 1960s in Jamaica and it originates from two Jamaican music styles - Ska and Rocksteady. However, Reggae is slower than both these styles. It is also influenced by Calypso, and R&B. Even though if someone does not know what reggae is, they would have still heard of famous reggae songs like No Woman No Cry, Angel, Red Red Wine, etc.

List of the Famous All Time Reggae Artists

Bob Marley
(6 February, 1945 to 11 May, 1981)
He is a synonym for Reggae music genre and is responsible for spreading the Jamaican music to the world. He was a singer, song-writer and a music composer for Ska, Rocksteady and Reggae. Although, he is more known and revered as a Reggae artist. His most known songs in reggae are No Woman, No Cry, Exodus, Could You Be Loved, Stir It Up, Jamming, Redemption Song, One Love. Along with the Wailers, his other known songs are Three Little Birds, Buffalo Soldier and Iron Lion Zion. Legend, his compilation album, was announced as Reggae's Best-Selling Album ever in 1984. It was rewarded the Diamond Certificate, and it sold 20 million copies worldwide.

After the release of his album, Uprising - in 1980, (which was his last work) his band toured to Europe and America, as a part of the uprising tour. His tour to America got hindered mid-way because of his deteriorating health. Bob Marley tried fighting cancer but barely survived for eight months. After all the sufferings he died in Miami, on 11 may, 1981. Bob Marley was awarded with the 'Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award' and his album 'Exodus' was voted as the greatest album of the 20th century by Time Magazine. He is the only 'Third World's Pop Superstar' and still looked upon as a 'Rasta-Prophet', a Philanthropist and a Revolutionary artist.

The world of music till date mourns for this loss and Bob Marley stays immortalized in millions of hearts as he kept saying "Don't worry about a thing, every little thing is gonna be alright."

Peter Tosh
(19 October, 1944 to 11 September, 1987)
His legendary words still echo in literature "Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die."

Peter Tosh was born and brought up in Jamaica. He had a difficult childhood, with none of the parents there to bring him up, he was brought up by his aunt. He began playing musical instruments at a very young age and was a fast learner. He played a major role in forming a band called 'The Wailers', that featured Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Junior Braithwaite, Beverly Kelso and Cherry Smith. The band gave their first hit, with their single Simmer Down and gave many other hits including Rude Boy, Trench Town Rock, Stir it up and the Reggae anthem Get Up Stand Up. The wailers joined the Rastafari Movement and Peter was the voice of the movement. You cannot describe Peter Tosh without mentioning his influence on the Rastafari's.

He later started his solo career and his work became more and more political. His solo works included Legalize it, Equal Rights, Bush Doctor, Mystic Man, Wanted Dread and Alive, Mama Africa and Honorary Citizen. He believed that drugs actually heal the nation and it should be legalized and the song 'Legalize It', was written on it. He smoked marijuana, openly in front of people and was arrested for drug possession. There is an authority for freedom demanded in most of his songs.

In 1987, Peter was awarded with 'Grammy Award for the Best Reggae Performance' for hos song, 'No Nuclear War'. Just after that when he got back to his home in Jamaica, three men entered his place demanding money and in frustration shot Peter as he did not have money in his house. The Rastafari's lost their voice but his songs still carry with them his political views and message for freedom.

Jimmy Cliff
He is, 'The Honorable Jimmy Cliff', as he is the only living musician to hold Jamaican award 'Merit of Order'. He is also an established actor, song writer, singer, music producer and a composer. In his initial stages of struggle, he faced failures which he fought against to give hits like, Miss Jamaica, One Eyed Jacks and King of Kings with producer Leslie Kong. After touring for 4 years in Europe and America, he made a few songs, out of which, he released Wonderful world, Beautiful people was his first international hit. In his collaboration with Kong, he gave many other hits like Let your Yea Be Yea, You Can Get It If You Really Want, Wild World and Honey Hush. He also played the lead for his first movie called 'The Harder They Come' followed by Club Paradise along with Robin Williams and Peter Otole for which he wrote and recorded the songs. He also appeared in 'Marked for Death' and did the soundtrack for, 'Seven Day Weekend'.

Jimmy Cliff recently has worked with artists like Sting, Annie Lennox, Kool And The Gang, Joe Strummer, Wyclef Jean, Yannick Noah, Tony Rebel, Steeley, Cleevie and Bounty Killer, etc. Currently, he is working on a new album on which he has worked for 4 years. In this album he says, he will cover subjects that affects everyone. He is also working on a movie script for Hollywood (name unknown) and is doing the soundtrack as well. Guess we all are waiting to see the work of this only living Reggae legend.

Toots and the Maytals
Toots and Maytals is a Jamaican Musical Group. They were famous for their vocals in Ska and Reggae genres. Frederick 'Toots' Hibbert, lead this group. He was born in May Pen, Jamaica and in his early teens, he relocated to Kingston. That's where he met Henry Gordon, Hibbert, and Nathaniel Mathias, who eventually formed the Maytals. They have given hits like, Do the Reggae, Pressure drop, 54-56 That's my number, Sweet Dandy, Monkey Rain, Funky Kingston, Reggae Got Soul, The Clash, The Maytals will be there, and Beautiful Woman.

They won a Grammy Award for the Best Reggae Album called, True Love. The band holds the maximum number of hits in Jamaica with 31 hits. They also won the 'Jamaica Festival Popular Song' Award three times for Sweet and Dandy, Monkey Man and Pomps & Pride, respectively. They also featured in the soundtrack of The harder They Come and it was voted as Vanity Fair's Top 10 soundtracks of all times.

Marcia Griffiths - The Empress of Reggae
November 23, 1949 was the day when this Reggae diva, Marcia Griffits was born. Her family hailed from a poor sect of West Kingston. However, Marcia considered those days glorious, she said, "There was always one thing in abundance - one thing that made them the wealthiest family in the world - one thing that no one could take from them... Love." She loved singing since the beginning, however her discovery as a Reggae artist was a one night story when Philip James, lead singer of the Blues Buster's vocal duo, came to see his girlfriend, who lived next door to Marcia. He was impressed with Marcia's voice as she was humming a song and soon got her the big break.

Fire Burning, I Shall Sing, Feel like jumping, You Have Lost That Loving Feeling, Tell Me Now, and Run Up And Down are a few of her big hits. She also paired up with Bob Marley and gave hits like, Always Together, You Gifted and Black, The Pied Piper. She later also featured with The Wailers and also toured with them. She got into a venture, with a trio called I-Threes, along with Judy Mowatt and Rita Marley. They released two albums, 'Beginning' and 'I-Threes sing Bob Marley'. Her single, 'Electric Boogie' remains as the highest selling single, of all the female Reggae singers. She has received accolades like 'Queen of the Arabian Nights', 'Queen of the Electric Boogie slide', 'Queen of Reggae', 'Female Vocalist of the year' and has also won Reggae Soca Music Awards.

She rightly said, "Music alone shall live, and it's not only for the money, but the satisfaction I get from doing the work that I love, that is what really keeps me going everyday".

The first song that would strike you the moment you hear Shaggy would be 'Sexy Lady'. Shaggy was born in Jamaica, Kingston, on 22 October, 1968 as Orville Richard Burrell. He is the most known Reggae artist after Bob Marley, in the western countries. He has given hits like It Wasn't me, Angel, Hope, Boombastic and In Summer Time. Besides music he has always been involved in charity and helping the deprived in Jamaica. 'Rise Again' was a song in which he featured along with Sean Paul, David Rudder, Shontelle Layne, Sean Kingston, Edwin Yearwood, Kees Dieffenthaller, Destra Garcia, Alison Hinds, Tessanne Chin and Etana & Belo. It was released to help the victims of the Haiti Earthquake. He now, has his own NPO called Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation. This organization recently held successful concerts in Kingston, in January 2009 and 2010. The concert starred artists like Sean Paul, Macy Gray & Boyz II Men and raised over $1 million USD, which was donated to Bustamante Hospital for Children to purchase latest medical equipment for the hospital.

In 1996, he won the 'Best Reggae Album' for Boombastic. He has been awarded the Diamond Certificate for his album 'Hot Shot' which sold 10 million copies out of which alone 6 million were sold in the US, in 2007. He also received the Jamaican Award 'Order of Distinction' for the rank of a commander. He is currently working on an album called Shaggy & Friends, which is due for release sometime in 2011 and it will feature many collaborations.

Reggae is in the land of Jamaica. There are two things that these, famous all time Reggae artists have in common. One is Kingston and the other is Rastafari Movement, which focuses on issues like racism, freedom and eventually lead to spirituality.

Their Anthem is: "Get up Stand up, stand up for your right, Get up Stand up, don't give up the fight."