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Biography – Glenroy “Ernie” Anthony Smith

Entertainment 22 Feb, 2024 Follow News


Glenroy Anthony Smith was born in Kingston, Jamaica on May 1, 1945, and raised in St. Ann. His father played guitar and bought him an instrument when he was twelve years old. He played guitar in the band The Vandals in Claremont, St. Ann, after leaving school, and was nicknamed ‘Ernie’ after Ernest Ranglin. He initially auditioned to be a radio announcer and ended up, on the same day, recording I Can’t Take It, which was later covered in 1975 by Johnny Nash, under the title Tears on My Pillow.

Smith’s first chart hit success was Bend Down (March 1971), followed by Ride on Sammy (December 1971). One Dream (1972), and Pitta Patta (1972), were followed by Life Is Just For Living, a song originally written for a Red Stripe Beer commercial but which went on to win the Yamaha Music Festival in Japan. In 1973, he was awarded The Badge of Honour for Meritorious Service in the Field of Music by the Jamaican government. In 1974, hits penned by Smith, included Duppy or Gunman, Key Card, and festival song Play de Music which was performed by Tinga Stewart and won the Festival Song contest that year. Smith also had success with covers of popular songs such as Help Me Make It Through the Night and Sunday Morning Coming Down.

In 1975, Smith released the gospel album I’ll Sing for Jesus which included five original songs on the album. In 1976, his The Power and the Glory was banned by the Michael Manley government during the ‘state of emergency’, leading to threats on his life, which would prompt him to relocate with his family to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where he recorded the albums To Behold Jah and Skareggae.  In 1981, Smith moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to be closer to his wife and children, but was beset by financial difficulties. He was able to overcome his challenges by sharing his creative gifts with Bob Marley’s mother, Cedella Booker, with whom he co-wrote No Tribulation, Comfort Ye My People, and Let the Children Play. In 1987, film director Perry Henzell asked Smith to write songs for Henzell’s Marcus Garvey musical. Smith returned to Jamaica in the wake of Hurricane Gilbert, and began recording and performing again, initially with a new band, The New Agenda. In 1996, he released the album Dancehall Ernie Cleans It Up album, featuring new recordings of some of his best-known songs.

In 2008, Smith returned with Country Mile, an album that included That’s The Kinda People We Are (a duet with Pluto Shervington), and You Are a Lion (featuring Ron Muschette).

Ernie Smith continues to record and perform and is currently being managed and promoted by Da Global Base headed by Joanna Marie Robinson.

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