Jamaican reggae vocalist Bob Andy dies aged 75

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An obituary by Ben Beaumont-Thomas for London’s Guardian.

Socially conscious singer’s hit version of Young, Gifted and Black reached No 5 in the UK charts with duo Bob and Marcia

Bob Andy, the reggae vocalist who performed a hit version of Young, Gifted and Black as part of the duo Bob and Marcia, has died aged 75 after a short illness.

His death was confirmed by his collaborator on that song, Marcia Griffiths, who told the Jamaica Observer he died at 8am on Friday 27 March.

Bob & Marcia reached No 5 in the UK in 1970 with Young, Gifted and Black, an uptempo recording of the Nina Simone original. They also reached No 11 in 1971 with Pied Piper, which spent 13 weeks in the charts.

Andy was born Keith Anderson in Kingston, Jamaica, and began his career in the groups the Binders and the Paragons before going solo in the mid-1960s. Recording in the legendary Studio One under producer Coxsone Dodd, he cut songs that would become reggae standards, such as I’ve Got to Go Back Home and Too Experienced.

He also wrote songs that would be recorded by reggae stars including Gregory Isaacs, Ken Boothe and Delroy Wilson, along with solo numbers for Griffiths, although their partnership ended when she joined the I Threes, Bob Marley’s group of backing vocalists.

Young, Gifted and Black was just one of his socially conscious songs. Others, such as Fire Burning and Check It Out, castigated capitalism and the ruling classes. But he suffered from health issues, including migraines, and put music to one side for a number of years from the late 1970s onwards, broadening into acting. He also became an A&R for Tuff Gong records, the label founded by Marley.

As his health improved, Andy returned to music in the 1990s. In 2006, he was awarded Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government for his services to music.

Reggae DJ David Rodigan was among those paying tribute, writing on Twitter: “We all loved you Bob Andy and we know how much you loved us, your legions of fans all over the world. At least you are at peace now; you’ve left us a truly remarkable repertoire of songs which we will all treasure for ever.”

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