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People use the word ‘Legend’ to describe lots of different things, but now we have the genuine article” – Jools Holland Eddy Grant is one of a kind, a British black artist that has across a fifty-year career released a staggering 15 albums and achieved five UK Top 10 singles. He has played every instrument on his records and is still making music with a singular creative vision, with ambition and determination, integrity, and dignity, self-sufficiency and humour. He’s also a vocal advocate of progressive socio-political and humanitarian issues and a vociferous promoter of the culture and achievements of contemporary black people. Born in Plaisance, Guyana in the Caribbean in 1948, the young Edmond Grant grew up immersed in the sounds of his homeland, which are dominated by both an obvious African music heritage, from whence came blues, jazz and R&B. There was also the influence of American and European pop music on the radio which exposed Eddy to a more complex, global set of musical influences. In 1960, the Grant family immigrated to England; taking up residence in the working-class Kentish Town area of London and Eddy attended Acland Burghley Secondary Modern in Tufnell Park. In the stark, post-war late Fifties suburban environment, he was exposed to the UK’s nascent pop music scene and the American rock ‘n’ roll of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Elvis Presley. This early combination of influences resulted in Eddy founding his own pop group The Equals in 1965, the first multi-racial outfit to emerge from the area’s council estate to achieve international acclaim. Debut single “I Won't Be There” received very little radio support, but strong support from the pirate radio station alongside a fan base swelled by their electric live shows, pushed first album “Unequalled Equals” into the UK Top 10. In 1968, The Equals scored their own UK Top 50 hit with the song “I Get So Excited”. Later on, although “Hold Me Closer” stalled at #50 in the UK, in Germany the single was flipped over and “Baby Come Back” released as the A-side. It soared to the top of the German charts, a feat repeated across Europe, and in the UK in May the reissued “Baby Come Back climbed to #1. The summer of 1969 saw single “Viva Bobby Joe” reach #6 in the UK charts.
By 1970, Eddy had founded his own label, Torpedo, focusing on British reggae artists and four years later Eddy released his debut solo album “Message Man”. 1979 saw the release of “Walking On Sunshine”, one of the most pivotal yet over-looked albums of that decade, which included the dancefloor classic “Living On The Frontline”, an addictively funky mix of declamatory though optimistic lyrics and electronic bounce. “Walking On Sunshine’ was also later covered by Arthur Baker’s Rockers Revenge and got to #1 in the US and #4 in the UK in 1982.
Eddy’s single “Do You Feel My Love”, which reached #3 in the UK, gave Eddy his first UK Top 10 single and was taken from “Can’t Get Enough” the album. That year Eddy’s songwriting stock was further bolstered when The Clash elected to cover “Police On My Back”, (written back in 1968) for their triple album “Sandinista!”. In 1981, Eddy also relocated to Barbados, and released “Live At Notting Hill”. All this momentum finally paid off when, in October 1982, “I Don’t Wanna Dance”, the lead-up single heralding the arrival of Eddy’s next album, gave Eddy his first UK #1 solo smash, 14 years after “Baby Come Back”. That album, “Killer On The Rampage”, muscled into both the UK and USA Top 10 and as this phenomenal run continued with the sizzling “Electric Avenue” single, which shot to #2 in both countries, Eddy was recognised as one of the decades great trans-Atlantic pop stars. It wasn’t until 1988 that the song “Gimme Hope Jo'anna”, a soulful plea to South African’s white ruling elite to dismantle apartheid taken from that year’s under-rated “File Under Rock” album, gave him a much deserved fourth UK Top 10 single. As well as steering his solo career, from the mid-Eighties onwards Eddy had also been mentoring a new generation of soca talent from his Blue Wave studio base in the Caribbean. He also began to build a music publishing catalogue, Ice Music Limited specializing in calypso's legend such as Lord Kitchener and Mighty Sparrow.
Eddy’s 1992's “Paintings Of The Soul” album displayed these soca influences, while the next year's “Soca Baptism” was a collection of classic covers from the Islands. During this period Eddy had been concocting another hybrid sound: Ringbang – a musical distillation of African rhythms, military tattoos, calypso, soul, R&B, reggae and dancehall rhythms – which debuted in 1994 at the Barbados Crop Over festival. “What Ringbang seeks to do is envelop all the rhythms that have originated from Africa so that they become one, defying all geographical boundaries. Love ourselves first. Love the things we make or create. Buy the things we make or create. When we have achieved these without seeking to oppress others, and not until then will my Ringbang People truly be FREE.”
In 2001, his Ringbang remix of "Electric Avenue" reached number 5 in the UK, giving him his fifth UK Top 10 single. In 2002, Eddy released the “Hearts & Diamonds album” and then the album “Reparation” in 2006. In 2008 Ice Records released with Universal worldwide “The Very Best Of Eddy Grant: Road To Reparation”, which was released and reached #14 in the UK. During 2008 to 2010, Eddy Grant and his Frontline Orchestra performed at various events and festivals including Nelson Mandela's 90th Birthday 46664 Concert, Wireless Festival, T in the Park, The Montreux Jazz Festival, Womad and Glastonbury.
In 2016, recognising the degree to which the people of the Caribbean, in particular the youth, had become culturally dependent on other states, Eddy Grant continued to pursue his Ringbang philosophy for his 2016 album release “Plaisance”. Eddy returned to the UK to launch the album and was also the guest of honour of Mayor Of London Sadiq Khan, for an extra special event - the launch and switching on of the illuminated sign/art piece at Electric Avenue. The special event carried the special hashtag in tribute to Eddy’s song and the street #RockDownToElectricAvenue. Eddy’s music continues to connect with audiences around the world. Through syncs Eddy and his music are consistently in the public sphere. Used in a variety of creative ads (e.g. 2015 & 2022 BMW Super Bowl ads), movies (e.g. Horrible Bosses 2, Pineapple Express, Jackass and Wild Bill), TV shows (e.g. Family Guy, Outer Banks, Bates Motel and Derry Girls) and cover versions (e.g. UB40, Prince Buster, Lethal Bizzle and Rockers Revenge) his hits continue to connect with an intergenerational audience.
In 2019 Eddy was invited to perform with The Roots on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in New York. In the wake of worldwide unrest in 2020 Eddy decided to speak up in a series of Youtube Interviews. His spoken words and thoughts were expressed in “A Conversation with Eddy Grant & Gary Younge” and “On Racism and Reparations” among others. 2023 marks two significant anniversaries – the 40th Anniversary of the “Killer on The Rampage” album & singles and Eddy’s 75th birthday. These milestones will be celebrated with the release of the Eddy Grant autobiography, live shows, film screenings and the release of “Killer on the Rampage” album and film boxset.