Jamaican reggae legend Max Romeo at RFI

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Radio France Internationale recently broadcast an interview with reggae star Max Romeo, who just announced his retirement. The interview, conducted in Agadir, Morocco, is available at the RFI website through the link below. Here are some excerpts:

62-year-old Max Romeo shared much of the early destiny of Bob Marley, farmed with him, even kicked the football in Saint Anne alongside the gangly teenager. But more than all this, the Jamaican did much to shape the Wailers band to be what they were before they conquered the world. The musicians parted company before the Wailers joined up with Bob Marley, to become a musical force that was unrivalled for two decades. But Romeo harbours no hard feelings.

. . .

Romeo nevertheless continued to forge ahead with his own career and came to international attention in 1969 with his controversial song “Wet Dream”. After being played twice by BBC Radio One’s Tony Blackburn it was banned for its suggestive lyrics about a man in bed with his woman. “That ban intrigued people, it made it so big,” laughed Romeo. “It helped build a rags to riches situation, as I was really struggling.”

In the Seventies, the singer suddenly switched to committed reggae. His visionary songs “Black Equality” and especially “War inna Babylon” stamped him as one of the most outspoken and revolutionary lyricists. This prolific period came to an end with the acrimonious split-up with producer and maverick musician Lee Perry. After three years in the wilderness, Romeo’s career was saved by a tour of France.

“I keep saying “thank you France,” chortled the grizzled artist, “they revived an old dead (man), and I’m alive and well.”

After one last recording next year called The Last Hurrah, however, Romeo is hanging up his spurs. The main reason, he says, are his two sons, Romario and Ronaldo Romeo who’ve combined at the tender ages of 10 and 12 to form the Rominal duo.

“They told me: “Dad, this is our time, take a seat, we’re going to take over. And I believe them!”

The boys’ first album Singing the Blues is to be released over Christmas 2009. Meanwhile Max Romeo has promised he will continue to perform live, entertaining reggae followers worldwide.

To read the complete interview or listen to the broadcast go to http://www.rfi.fr/actuen/articles/117/article_5160.asp

Photo by Gen Murray at http://www.dizzybeatnetwork.com/taxonomy/term/47

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