Clinton was born in St. Andrew, close to Kingston in Jamaica, but he grew up deep in the hills of St. Catherine. Music was his goal and at 17 Clinton formed his first group called The Brothers. They were looking for opportunities to play around Studio One and Treasure Isle, the two main places for musicians to make it in those times.
At the end of 1969, Clinton was playing guitar in his yard when Errol Grandisson passed by and heard him. At that time The Gladiators already had their first hit with Hello Carol. They were looking for another vocalist to replace David Webber, who left shortly before. Clinton met Albert Griffiths, original founder of the group, and became the third member of Gladiators at the age of 19. He was a member for 18 years, playing bass, singing, working on arrangements, learning and giving as much as possible for the love of music. He signed several songs for The Gladiators, hits and classics like Chatty Chatty Mouth, Richman Poorman, On The Other Side, Can You Imagine How I Feel, Let Jah Be Praised, One Love, Untrue Girl and more.
Clinton was also playing in session for Coxsonne Dodd at Studio One and, for about 6 months, for Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry at Black Ark. He composed many lasting bass lines, sometimes getting credits and sometimes not, like for the hits Roast Fish And Cornbread, sang by Scratch, or Come Along by the Bells, among the few songs Clinton can remember he was on. “Scratch rarely had the proper credits for musicians and I was just happy to play so...” explains with Clinton with no regrets. You can hear Clinton Fearon’s bass lines on albums from Yabby You, Jimmy Riley, Max Romeo, Junior Byles and many more.
Touring the World
The Gladiators were touring all around the world, playing in the US and Canada, being famous in France, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, England, Ireland... The Gladiators were the first reggae group to play in Morocco which was in September 1982! The group helped building an important part of reggae music’s foundation and was one of its best ambassador worldwide.
In 1987, after The Gladiators end up a tour in the U.S., the musicians had excess time on their visa and some decided to stay, in order to make a little extra money before flying back to Jamaica. They created a group called The Defenders. It was Clinton Rufus on guitar, Winston Carty on drums and vocals, Errol ‘Tarzan’ Nelson on keyboards and Clinton Fearon on bass and vocals. The group set up base in Seattle, Washington. He wrote the lyrics and sang lead vocals on The Defenders’ EP Chant Down Babylon / Rock Your Bones. The effort reached charts on The Reggae Route Top 20 (CMJ New Music Report, 1989), on radio and magazine charts around the country. The Defenders created a solid audience in the Northwest. In 1990, Clinton Fearon released his first compilation of original songs with The Defenders, Feel The Spirit, on his own label Hot Fire, and only available on cassette. But after about five years of activity, the band split. And Clinton decided to stay in Seattle.
Boogie Brown Band
In 1994 Clinton founded the Boogie Brown band with four local musicians coming from the jazz and the reggae scene. In 1995 he released the album Disturb The Devil, a collection of 13 songs written and produced by him. The opus received critical acclaim around the globe and launched definitely a new career for Clinton Fearon and Boogie Brown band.
Mystic Whisper, released in early 1997 (Peacemaker Records), was immediately #1 album by Reggae Vibes/CRM Radio 102.7 FM in Europe and selected #2 independent U.S. release by international magazine Reggae Report. With pure roots reggae, great melodies and soulful delivery, the album showed Clinton Fearon’s versatility as much as a variety of themes in the sweet style that has become his signature.
“My music is roots reggae from the island of Jamaica. I grew up deep in the hills, up in St. Catherine, surrounded by nature, beauty and hard work. Even as a child, I knew I wanted to be a musician and began my career singing in church and at school, and eventually built my own guitar! As a teenager, my journeys took me to Kingston where I met many musicians and began writing and recording music. The Skatalites, Motown artists and Jamaican musicians who came before me all influenced my music. I write from my heart. The world is full of inspirations... nature, people, politics, love. I write about them all. My music is good for the soul - always with a message of hope and betterment for tomorrow. It’s good for dancing, good for listening and I think it’s good for all.”
Check out our 10 minute mix of Clinton Fearon