After trying again and again, he was finally able to release Hurricane Hattie with producer Kong. The song was a hit, earning Cliff his first career breakthrough at the age of just fourteen. He stayed with Kong until his death in 1971 and produced other hit singles which include Pride and Passion, Dearest Beverley, King of Kings and Miss Jamaica. He was chosen as the representative of Jamaica in a world fair in 1964. Soon after, he moved to The UK and signed to Island Records. He debuted in 1967 with the release of “Hard Road to Travel.” The album was a success, garnering excellent reviews. The album produced the single Waterfall which was a hit in Brazil and also won the international song festival.
Following Waterfall, Cliff released Wonderful World, Beautiful People and Vietnam. Both songs were included in his 1969 self-titled album which was later re-titled “Wonderful World, Beautiful People.” Cliff released the cover of Wild World by Cat Stevens around the same time but the song isn’t included in his album. Cliff also acted in various films. He appeared in the role of Ivan in The Harder They Come, the classic reggae whose soundtrack features his song, Many Rivers to Cross. The soundtrack was a success and helped popularize the reggae internationally for the first time. Even to this date, it is considered as one of the significant films in the Jamaican history.
For several years, Cliff toured across the world, solely as well as with other artists including E Street Band and Bruce Springsteen. His song Trapped was added to live set during The River Tour which made him a prominent reggae singer. The song was also included in the 1985 benefit album “We Are the World.” Cliff also collaborated with Kool & the Gang and performed at the Pinkpop Festival in 1984. His next album was “Cliff Hanger” which hit the stores in 1985. The album was a major success in the US and won him a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. He contributed for a protest song Sun City in 1985 and also lent his vocals for “Dirty Work” by The Rolling Stones. He starred in Club paradise along with co-stars Peter O’Toole and Robin Williams. Among his other songs which were contributed for soundtracks are Seven Day Weekend and Shelter Your Love for Cocktail.
Cliff also made an appearance in Marked for Death in which he performed John Crow. His protests songs like You Can Get It if You Really Want were used by political parties as their campaign anthems. In 1991, Cliff also performed at the second Rock in Rio festival. With the release of I Can See You Cleary Now for Cool Runnings and Hakuna Matata for Lion King, he was back on mainstream pop charts in the US.
In 2003 he was inducted in the Jamaican Order of Merit and in 2010 he was inducted in the Rock and Roll hall of Fame. His album “Rebirth” came out in 2012. The album won him another Grammy Award and was ranked at number twelve among the top fifty albums of 2012 by Rolling Stones. In 2013, he appeared at Bonnaroo festival, marking his return to the pop music. After Bob Marley, Cliff is the only musician to have made such an impact in the reggae music. Do not miss out on catching him live as he makes a stop in your city on his upcoming tour by getting Jimmy Cliff tickets now.