Ride On: Reggae Singer Jimmy Riley, 1954-2016

March 23, 2016

Words and Photo by Martei Korley


This picture shows Jimmy Riley seemingly at the apex of a diamond of Blak Soil musicians performing with his son, Tarrus Riley, at Kingston’s Ranny Williams Centre in 2008. We had just left Dean Fraser’s house in Cassia Park to make a quick stop at the venue before driving to Oracabessa for the Marleys’ “Smile Jamaica” concert. Today, as I hear the sad news of the passing of a man who always showed me love and respect, I reflect on his message. The song that keeps running through my head is his version of Bobby Womack’s “Woman’s Gotta Have It”: Do the things that keep the smiles on their faces

He put smiles on many faces, and left an indelible mark on Jamaican music that continues to live through his sons, Tarrus and Kush. Give thanks, bless up and ride on, Jimmy!