Throwback Thursdays: Watch Grace Jones Perform “My Jamaican Guy” in a Jamaican Fort

October 1, 2015

Words by Jesse Serwer

Between a new generation of music fans discovering her music thanks to appearances like those at Afropunk Festival, and the release of her first book, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs, this week, Grace Jones is having another moment.

We’re still waiting for our copy of the book but one thing we did learn recently is that 1982’s “My Jamaican Guy,” one of our favorite Grace Jones songs for so many different reasons, was written about Wailers keyboardist Tyrone Downie. (Turns out he wasn’t really her Jamaican guy; Jones says her love was unrequited, as Downie was taken at the time). In any case, it’s a reason to post this video of Grace performing “My Jamaican Guy” at her very first (and perhaps only?) live performance in Jamaica.

The setting is Port Royal’s Fort Charles, 1988, and the occasion is A Reggae Session, a 1988 TV special that aired on the cable channel Cinemax. Backing her is an all-star band that includes Downie himself; Sly and Robbie on drums and bass; Coati Mundi Hernandez on percussion; and Third World’s Cat Coore on guitar. Dean Fraser is in there somewhere, while the introduction is courtesy of Neville Garrick.

For her part, Jonesy ups the Jamaican-ness of “My Jamaican Guy” to a higher level, flavoring the verses with patois and twang you won’t find on the studio version, and ad-libbed Awohs years before Vybz Kartel would make this phrase his own personal calling card. This was right around the time Jones, who was born in Spanish Town and left the island when she was 12 years old, returned to Jamaica to live with her then-boyfriend (or possibly husband) Chris Stanley at his Music Mountain complex. That didn’t end well, as Jones was soon arrested for cocaine possession, spending time in a Jamaican prison. (The charge was thrown out after it was revealed that Stanley’s jealous ex-lover had planted the drugs, but Jones’ reported marriage to Stanley and her involvement in his Music Mountain studio were never heard of again).

As Jones once said, “Something strange always happens to me when I come to Jamaica.” Actually, she said it in an LA Times interview about this very incident, in which she also announced plans to shoot her next video in the same Jamaican prison where she was jailed. (That video doesn’t seem to have ever materialized…)

Lawwd, we hope this story is in the book. Welp, enjoy the clip!