37 years after the vocal group was formed, rocksteady legends The Tennors return in the reggae arena with the release of their first new single "Jamaica 50", which made its worldwide debut on top Jamaican Radio Personality Richard 'Richie B' Burgess’ Hot Mix program on Hot 102 FM on Tuesday, April 17 2012. "Music can take a long time to circle the globe. We wanted to make sure that "Jamaica 50" wouldn't be a song that is played for a week at independence, but that it instead got a chance to seep into the hearts and minds of the people", said founding member George Murphy aka Clive Tennors.
Along with George 'Clive Tennors' Murphy, the group now includes original member Ronnie Davis (who was also a member of The Itals) and new member Henry 'Sadiki' Buckley Jr. "We could think of no better way to celebrate our reunion, than to create this beautiful love song about Jamaica," said Ronnie Davis.
Even though older reggae fans fondly remember The Tennors for tunes such as "Cleopatra", "Weather Report", "Hopeful Village", "Scrub Mi Khaki", "The Stage", "Another Scorcher", and two of the biggest selling records ever in the history of Jamaican music, "Ride Yu Donkey" and the much versioned Studio One classic "Pressure And Slide", The Tennors inexplicably appear as a footnote in the history of Jamaica's popular music.
It was in the midst of the memorable Ska era, or more precisely 1962, that George Murphy aka Clive Tennors and Alvin 'Cheng Cheng' formed a vocal duo called The Tennor Twins. Both singers performed together at numerous Ska venues on many occasions and recorded their first songs for Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle label with The Skatalites as session musicians. In 1965 Alvin left the group and Clive teamed up with the the late Maurice 'Prof' Johnson. So there they were, two again, and The Tennor Twins continued with Clive as the lead vocalist on most of their live shows.
By 1965 Ska had come to its end and with it ushered in a new era called Rocksteady. In 1967, at the invitation of Clive and Prof, Norman Davis joined the group for in-studio performances. Since they were now a trio, Clive decided to rename the group The Tennors. It was at the legendary Studio One label, owned by ‘Sir’ Coxone Dodd, that their first recordings were done and released under the Downbeat label. Their song "Pressure And Slide" was their first recording as The Tennors and became the biggest hit in Jamaica for the year 1967.
Tragically, Johnson passed away in 1967. Deeply saddened by his friend's death, Clive was now more determined that the group should continue, and invited Nehemiah Reid to join the group. It was while on a break in the countryside that Clive was bemused with the antics of a donkey owned by his in-laws, which made it unrideable. Then the idea hit him – write a song about this donkey! Returning to Kingston, the group recorded "Ride Yu Donkey" and the rest is history. Thus it was that The Tennors presence in the annals of the Jamaican musical scene was launched forever.
There was yet to be another change. With the departure of Norman and Nehemiah, two exciting newcomers, Ronnie Davis (who had previously sung with the Westmorlites) and Milton Wilson joined the group - Ronnie as lead singer. With a freshness of spirit the group forged ahead relentlessly with such smash hits as "The Stage", "Another Scorcher", "Massi Massa" and "Weather Report". They became one of the most outstanding vocal groups in Jamaica, and their consistency earned them the title of best performers in the Jamaica Festival of 1973 when they performed the song "Hopeful Village", which was released later on the now famous Treasure Isle label from Duke Reid.
It was the infancy of musical recordings in Jamaica, and the local producers of that era learnt a lot from their American counterparts. Artists were paid little or nothing for their recordings; this was a musical sweatshop. And the testing grounds for the musical genius of a nation, was the ignorance of a music loving people. True to form, the biblical saying "a prophet is least recognized in his own country" became the hallmark of the music industry of Jamaica, but with few exceptions. Thus it was that artists of the calibre of The Paragons, The Techniques, The Heptones, The Clarendonians, Blues Busters, Jimmy Cliff, Jackie Edwards, and Derrick Morgan became more recognized abroad than in their own country, as they continued to churn out hit after hit. And also The Tennors found their international niche when many of their recordings became favourites around the world. As a testament to the strength of the group's music, "Ride Yu Donkey" was a featured track in the 2005 French-American film "Broken Flowers", which starred Bill Murray and Sharon Stone.
When the Rocksteady era came to an end and early Reggae had taken over, harmony singing remained popular in Jamaica but, as the 1970s progressed, the record buying public's preponderance for deejays and dub made it increasingly difficult for Reggae vocal groups to continue and thus The Tennors disbanded in 1975. Now, after a near 35 year hiatus, The Tennors have reunited and the group is busy writing and recording songs for what will become the first album of new material in over 35 years.
Left to right: Ronnie Davis, Sadiki, Clive Tennors
The Tennors - "Jamaica 50" Lyrics|
Written by: A. Murphy, X. Murphy
Jamaica, Jamaica 50 years are you
Jamaica, Jamaica we're proud of you
We faced many obstacles to realize our dream,
Everyone aimed the same through sunshine and rain
Though some live a foreign, their hearts are still here
Yearning for their share, Jamaica beautiful island so rare
Great athletes we have, Usain Bolt the boy is bad,
The fastest man in the universe,
Marley took reggae music, Made it known globally
The message of love he portrayed would say,
One Love, One Heart let's get together and make it great
One Love, One Heart let's get together and celebrate
Fascinating beaches along the ocean shore,
Historic places much to explore,
No better food you'll ever find,
Creative arts and crafts artistically designed
We have some famous people some born abroad others from yard
But the roots are the same
Lennox Louis, Collin Powell, Patrick Ewing, Naomi Campbell,
Courtney Walsh, Cindy Breakespeare, Mike McCullom, Veronica Campbell,
Beres Hammond, Derrick Morgan, Reggae Boyz, The Bobsled Team and all the rest,
Bustamante, Norman Manley are the Heroes of The day.
Article -- based on press sheets from Alex Rozay Public Relations -- by Teacher & Mr. T - June 2012|
(Please do not reproduce without permission)