The Return of the Cimarons
Jamaican natives The Cimarons started in England in 1968, with a line-up consisting of Franklyn Dunn (Bass), Carl Levy (Keyboards), Locksley Gichie (Guitar), Maurice Ellis (Drums). Patrick Guy was the band’s first lead singer. He was soon replaced by Carl Lewis, who became the lead vocalist on the band’s early releases; ‘Mammy Blue,’ ‘Struggling Man’ etc. Pama Records, (later called JetStar) were the first company to record and release the band. Eventually, vocalist Winston Reid (better known as Winston Reedy), joined the band in 1973.
They were primarily session musicians and were the studio and live performance backing band for many artists, including: Pat Kelly, Ken Boothe, Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, Derrick Morgan and many more. Yes, over the years, some of you have unknowingly listened and danced to the music of The Cimarons, backing some of your favourite singers and DJs.
Recording and performance artists such as: Ken Boothe, Alton Ellis, Stranger Cole, Slim Smith, Toots & the Maytals, Marvels, Pat Kelly (and many more), have all benefitted from this band’s high calibre of musicianship. Their tightness and versatility as a band sets them apart from their contemporaries, with the legacy of having backed so many reggae hits. After all, they were Trojan Record Company’s ‘House band’ and as an example, to name two extreme styles, they played all the music on the Dennis Brown album; ‘Just Dennis.’ They were also the band Known as Hot Rod All Stars, and were the band behind the then popular Judge Dread, playing on all his recordings.
The Cimarons enjoy several firsts in the Reggae music; one being the first Reggae band to perform live in Spain and Paris, and in 1974, they were the first reggae band to tour Japan (with The Pioneers). Later that year, the band backed Bob Marley and Johnny Nash on their first UK national tour.
For a band that has been so busy backing other artists, they have a surprisingly prolific body of their own work and international hits. To date, the band has had 7 singles and 5 albums releases. This is remarkable considering how busy they have been backing other artists. All their tracks are amazingly different; no two songs or music sound the same.
Their first hit single ‘Mammy Blue’ was produced by the legendary Dandy Livingstone. Their first LP ‘In Time’ on Trojan Records in 1974, featured a rendition of the O’Jays ‘Ship Ahoy,’ ‘Utopian Feeling,’ ‘Over the Rainbow’ and ‘My Blue Heaven.’
Also in 1974 they did a cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Talking Blues,’ which went to number 1 in Jamaica for eight weeks.
Vulcan Records released ‘On the Rock’ two years later.
In 1977 the band recorded an album called ‘Reggae.’
They switched to Polydor Records releasing ‘Live at the Roundhouse’ in 1978. Polydor released ‘Maka’ the same year. Three more albums followed; ‘Freedom Street,’ ‘Reggaebility’ and ‘On the Rock Part 2.’ After the last of these in 1983, they didn’t surface again until 1995, when Lagoon Records released; ‘People Say’ and ‘Reggae Time,’ both compilations of earlier albums followed by ‘The Best of The Cimarons,’ released in 1999 on Culture Press.
The Cimarons have been Reggae ambassadors since the 1960s.
In 1969, the band travelled to Ghana and Nigeria on their famous ‘Soul Messengers Tour.’ Since then they’ve been everywhere. They remain a very popular band on all continents and even after all these years, their music is still being played on air in the countries they have performed. Although like many bands based in Britain, they remain more popular abroad than they are at home, even with several British television appearances, including Top of the Pops backing Ken Boothe on his number 1 ‘Everything I own’ and others. They also made several appearances on ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test.’
In 1978 the band was called in by Paul and Linda McCartney to record the album ‘Reggaebility’ and also appeared in the video for the song ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry,’ a single from the album. In the same year, the band appeared in the video ‘Ebony & Ivory’ with Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.
Being very culturally aware, humble and spiritual individuals, the band has always been ready to give back to the community and have to that end played at many festivals and charity events, including the Anti-Nazi League’s ‘Rock against Racism’ Tour in 1977. That same year they toured Northern Ireland and after several performances in Dublin and Cork, the band was awarded the Fans trophy 1977, for being the first Reggae group to tour Northern Ireland. Over the years, many more awards followed including the Jamaican Gleaner Award.
In 2013, the band was given a plaque by Brent Federation of Reggae Music & Brent Council, which is sited at Tavistock Church Hall, in Harlesden, North West London.
New times are coming for The Cimarons. Lately, there has been talk in the grassroots about ‘The Return of the Cimarons.’ We here at BASS 1 Entertainment can confirm that the band has joined us! And their new single ‘Let Love Grow,’ a very catchy Reggae dance track, will be on release on the BASS 1 label at the beginning of December 2016.