Inner Circle ~ The Bad Boys of Reggae
By Maliika Walker
Kingston, Jamaica is the cornerstone of reggae music. Some of the greatest reggae artists in history were raised or spent a considerable amount of time in Kingston. The legendary group, Inner Circle is no exception as they also hail from where many say reggae was born.
Inner Circle formed in 1968 and is still releasing music that resonates with audiences of all ages. The newly released collaboration with Kabaka Pyramid, “We The People Ha Fi Talk”, is generating buzz within the reggae world. The group responsible for the television show COPS theme song still performs to packed audiences around the globe. Inner Circle completed a European tour a few months before we spoke and was getting ready to perform at the Hollywood Bowl w/Ziggy and Stephen Marley.
Maliika Walker recently spoke with Roger Lewis about the great Jacob Miller, the Reggae Grammy, and former band members Stephen “Cat” Coore and Ibo Cooper among other topics. Here is their conversation.
Maliika: You guys are legends who are still going strong. Over 40 years in music.
Roger Lewis: Yes longevity has its place. We have survived a long time in the business and we are proud of the legacy we have built. We still perform around the globe and we also own one of the top recording studios in all of Miami, Circle House. Even with all of our setbacks, like the loss of Jacob Miller, we are still going strong. Our reggae roots run deep, from the 70’s to now. Even when we were in high school.
Maliika: Some of the past members of the band include Third World greats Cat Coore, Ibo Cooper, Bunny Rugs. Please share a little about their time with the band.
Roger Lewis: Yes we started while still in high school Willie Stewart, Ibo Cooper and Cat Coore. I must say my musical knowledge was enhanced by knowing Ibo Cooper because he’s a classically trained musician and an excellent teacher. I was fortunate enough to know him and be taught by him. Cat Coore is also an extraordinary musician. His mother, Rita Coore, was a phenomenal music teacher and hailed from Trinidad.
The early days were a happy time for me because I was coming out of high school learning music and those guys enhanced my musical knowledge. The formed Third World in 1973 and we got Jacob “Killa” Miller. He was the man with the swag, the people’s singer. Jacob Miller brought a whole different vibe to the group. We got seven years of greatness from him before his passing.
Maliika: Jacob Miller is one of the greatest reggae artists in history, and he was also lead singer of Inner Circle until his death.
Roger Lewis: Jacob Miller possessed natural talent. He had a great feel the music. I can go on and on. You only had to point Jacob in the right direction and he took care of the rest. He came from a musical background. People loved him in Jamaica. Jacob was one of the first artists to talk about living in a tenement yard and licking weed in a da bush. He wanted to come out in the open where the breeze could blow it far away.