Inner Circle (band)

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Inner Circle
Inner Circle (1976).png
Inner Circle in 1976
Background information
Also known as The Inner Circle Band
Origin Kingston, Jamaica
Genres Reggae
Years active 1968–present
Labels Trojan, Capitol, Island, RAS, Atlantic, Big Beat, VP, Shanachie, Soundbwoy Entertainment
Associated acts Third World
Members Ian Lewis
Roger Lewis
Bernard "Touter" Harvey
Lancelot Hall
Trevor "Skatta" Bonnick
Past members

Mark Castro
Michael "Ibo" Cooper
Stephen "Cat" Coore
William Stewart
William "Bunny Rugs" Clarke (deceased)
Irvin "Carrot" Jarrett
Milton "Prilly" Hamilton
Charles Farquharson
Calvin McKenzie
Funky Brown
Jacob Miller (deceased)
Lester Adderley
Norma Grant
Rick Hunt
Michael Sterling
Calton Coffie
Dave Gonzales
Kris Bentley
Jr. Jazz

Music sample

Inner Circle are a Jamaican reggae group. The group was originally called The Inner Circle Band and formed in 1968. The band achieved major success in the 1970s with Jacob Miller as their lead singer, but split up after his death in 1980. They reformed in 1986 and had a major hit with the 1987 song "Bad Boys", which serves as the theme song for Fox Network's long running television program COPS.[1] They are also well-known for their song "Sweat (A La La La La Long)," a big hit in the U.S. in the early 1990s. The band is known for blending pop and rock with reggae.


Early career[edit]

The band was formed in 1968 by the brothers Ian and Roger Lewis with then 12-year-old Stephen "Cat" Coore and Michael Cooper.[2] They appeared on record in 1970, backing The Chosen Few on the Derrick Harriott-produced single "Why Can't I Touch You", with the Inner Circle Band credited with the instrumental version on the B-side; This was one of several singles on which they backed the Chosen Few.[2] In 1970 the band was expanded when they were joined by drummer William Stewart, percussionist Irvin "Carrot" Jarrett, and the band's original singer William "Bunny Rugs" Clarke.[2] The band played on Eric Donaldson's hit single "Cherry Oh Baby" and recorded their own version as "Red Cherry".[2]

Jarrett left the band in 1972, with singer Clarke leaving the following year when he moved to New York.[2] Clarke's replacement was Milton "Prilly" Hamilton, but this line-up was short-lived as the band split in two with Coore, Cooper, and Hamilton leaving to form Third World in 1973.[2] Coore and Cooper were then students of the University of the West Indies, studying for various degrees[citation needed] and were soon joined in Third World by fellow Inner Circle departees Clarke and Jarrett. Meanwhile, Inner Circle re-tooled the lineup by recruiting keyboard players Charles Farquharson and Bernard Harvey (aka "Touter"), as well as drummer Calvin McKenzie as a replacement for Stewart (who would also go on to play with Third World).[2] The band played the hotel and club circuit in Kingston, playing a mixture of reggae, pop and soul hits, and released their first album, Dread Reggae Hits, in 1973 on Ian Lewis's Top Ranking label.[2][3]

The Jacob Miller years[edit]

After recording with singer Funky Brown, they recruited Jacob Miller as a permanent vocalist (although he continued to record as a solo artist), and had a hit single with a version of The Stylistics' "You Make Me Feel Brand New".[2] Some of Miller's work with the band was credited to Miller alone, including the "Tenement Yard" single.[2] The band were signed by Capitol Records, who issued the albums Reggae Thing (1976) and Ready for the World (1977).[2] They toured the United States with American guitarist, Ed Elizalde. In 1978 they moved on to Island Records who released the Everything Is Great album in 1978, which included the UK hit singles "Everything Is Great" and "Stop Breaking My Heart", and New Age Music the following year.[2][4] The band was joined by New York session guitarist Joe Ortiz, dubbed Gitzy by the band; who added the first touches of hard rock, jazz, and blues to the group.[citation needed] Ortize recorded at Compass Point Studios for the Everything Is Great album on Island Records, and later joined the group for their European tour in 1978–1980. Lester Adderley joined the group for the New Age Music album on guitar.[citation needed] Also released in the late 1970s were two dub albums based on Miller's solo albums Killer Miller and Wanted but credited to Inner Circle.[2] The band gained further exposure via their performance in the film Rockers, playing a hotel house band.[2] At his peak in the 1970s, only Bob Marley was more popular in Jamaica than Miller, and as a live act nobody equalled their popularity.[5]

Miller's death in car crash on 23 March 1980 led the band to split up, with the Lewis Brothers and Touter Harvey moving to Miami, where they opened a studio in a warehouse, later opening their own Circle House recording studio, and the band has been based in Miami since then. After Miller's death in 1980, the band had one more American tour, inviting Norman Grant from the Twinkle Brothers for vocals.[6]

Reformation and US success[edit]

In 1981, with Bay Area lead guitarist, Mark Castro, they recorded the album Something So Good. Due to the loss of Jacob Miller, the members asked Mark Castro to help them find a new vocalist. Mark brought Rick Hunt to the band. "Something So Good" includes the memorable signature lead guitar solos that only Mark Castro can produce, especially When a Man Loves a Woman and World 2000."Something So Good" was released in 1982. They reformed in 1986 with the Lewis Brothers and Harvey joined by singer Calton Coffie and drummer Lancelot Hall, and this line-up released the Black Roses album (1986, RAS Records).[2] The band's next album, One Way (1987), included one of their biggest hits, "Bad Boys", which was re-recorded for their 1989 album Identified and became the theme music for the Fox TV series COPS that year.[2][7] California guitarist Dave Gonzales, by Mark Castro's recommendation, joined the band for a tour in 1989.[citation needed] "Bad Boys" was reissued as a single in 1991 and charted in several countries in Europe, but it was its 1993 re-release in the US that achieved the greatest success.[7] The 1992 album Bad to the Bone was picked up by Atlantic Records and reissued as Bad Boys to capitalise on the success of the single.[2] It sold more than half a million copies in the US and more than four million worldwide.[8] The band received a Grammy Award in 1993 for 'Best Reggae Album by Duo or Group' for Bad Boys and the album also spawned the international hit single "Sweat (A La La La La Long)", which was a number 3 hit in the UK Singles Chart and topped the chart in ten countries, selling over a million copies in Europe, while "Bad Boys" peaked at number 52.[4][9] It was their second (and last) American hit, reaching number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100.[10] "Bad Boys" was used in the 1995 film of the same name starring Will Smith and its sequel Bad Boys 2, and a ringtone based on the song was on the Billboard Hot Ringtones Chart for over 110 weeks.[7][11] They received a second Grammy nomination in 1994 for the album Reggae Dancer, which included a cover of Joe South's "Games People Play" which was released as a single.[12][13]

Coffie left in the mid-1990s to pursue a solo career, and they were joined in 1994 by Kris Bentley who made his album debut on Da Bomb (1997), released on the band's own Soundbwoy Entertainment label.[2][14] In 1999 they released the album Jamaika Me Crazy on their own Eureka label.[15] The 2000 album Big Tings featured guest appearances from Mr Vegas, Beenie Man, Luciano, Anthony B, and Glen Washington.[16] In 2008, Jr. Jazz took over as lead vocalist.[17]

As well as running the Circle Sound studio, the band members also run the Circle Sound production company.[14]

The band's 2009 album State of Da World featured contributions from an array of reggae stars including Luciano, Damian Marley, Stephen Marley, Junior Reid, Mutabaruka, Bushman, David Hinds of Steel Pulse, and members of Slightly Stoopid.[17][18]

In 2012, the band launched the 'Saving The Reggae Music' campaign with the aim of promoting traditional reggae music over the increasingly US-influenced music coming out of Jamaica.[19]

The band's 2012 album Dubets featured collaborations with Peetah Morgan, Ken Boothe, Marcia Griffiths, Glen Washington, Ali Campbell of UB40, Gramps Morgan, A.J. Brown, and Marty Dread.[20] The group went on to record with several younger singers and deejays, including Damian Marley, I-Octane, Khago, and Chronixx, with whom they recorded an updated version of "Tenement Yard".[21]


Inner Circle in Australia in 2009
Current members
  • Ian Lewis (born 1 November 1953 (1953-11) (age 62) – bass, vocals (1968–1980, 1982, 1986–present)
  • Roger Lewis (born 29 June 1951 (1951-06-29) (age 64) – guitar, vocals (1968–1980, 1982, 1986–present)
  • Bernard "Touter" Harvey (born 25 October 1955 (1955-10-25) (age 60) – keyboards, vocals (1973–1980, 1982, 1986–present)
  • Lancelot Hall (born 7 February 1960 (1960-02-07) (age 55) – drums, percussion (1986–present)
  • Trevor "Skatta" Bonnick – vocals (2014–present)[22]
Former members
  • Mark Castro - Guitar (1979, 1981, 1982, 1993)
  • Ed Elizalde - Guitar (1977-1978)
  • Michael "Ibo" Cooper – keyboards (1968–1973)
  • Stephen "Cat" Coore – guitar (1968–1973)
  • William Stewart – drums (1970–1973)
  • William "Bunny Rugs" Clarke – vocals (1970–1972; died 2014)
  • Irvin "Carrot" Jarrett – percussion (1970–1972)
  • Milton "Prilly" Hamilton – vocals (1972–1973)
  • Charles Farquharson – keyboards (1973–1980, 1982)
  • Calvin McKenzie – drums (1973–1980, 1982)
  • Funky Brown – vocals (1973–1974)
  • Jacob Miller – vocals (1974–1980; his death)
  • Lester Adderley – guitar (1979–1980)
  • Joe Ortiz - Lead Guitar (1979-1980)
  • Norman Grant – vocals (1980)
  • Rick Hunt – vocals (1982)
  • Michael Sterling – lead guitar, vocals (1982)
  • Calton Coffie – vocals (1986–1994)
  • Dave Gonzales – lead guitar (1989)
  • Kris Bentley – vocals (1994–2008)
  • Jr. Jazz – vocals, guitar (2008–2011)


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Label US US
UK[4][23] Notes
1973 Dread Reggae Hits Top Ranking issued in the UK as Rock the Boat (1975), Trojan
1974 Heavy Reggae Top Ranking issued in the UK as Blame it on the Sun (1975), Trojan
1976 Reggae Thing Capitol
1977 Barry Biggs and the Inner Circle Trojan split album with Barry Biggs
Ready for the World Capitol
1978 Everything is Great Island
Killer Dub Top Ranking
Heavyweight Dub Top Ranking
1979 New Age Music Island
1982 Something So Good - Mark Castro on Lead Guitar Carrere/Tonpress
1987 One Way RAS
1989 Identified Warners
1990 Black Roses RAS
1992 Bad to the Bone RAS 44
1993 Bad Boys Atlantic 64 2 reissue of Bad to the Bone, US R&B No. 41
1994 Reggae Dancer Big Beat 2
1996 Da Bomb WEA Re-issued by Soundbwoy in 1997 with several new tracks and remixed versions of previously released tracks.
1998 Speak My Language Universal/Republic 7 Re-issue of Da Bomb (1997 version)
World 2000 Laserlight
Jamaika Me Crazy Re-issued by Eureka in 1999 with a combination of tracks from Jamaika Me Crazy (1998 version) and Montego Bay
1999 Montego Bay
2000 Big Tings VP Includes tracks (some remixed) from Jamaika Me Crazy, Montego Bay, and Reggae Man, as well as some original tracks.
Reggae Man
2001 Barefoot in Negril Soundbwoy Entertainment
2002 Log On
Kool Operator Soundbwoy Entertainment Compilation album featuring remixed versions of songs from Reggae Man, Barefoot in Negril, and Log On
2009 State of Da World Shanachie
2012 Dubets Dubshot Records
2013 Hawaii Sings Jacob Miller Dubshot Records


  • Reggae Greats: Jacob Miller and Inner Circle (1985), Island
  • Rewind!, Pt.2: The Singers (1990)
  • The Best of Inner Circle (1992), Mango
  • The Best of Inner Circle (1993), Capitol
  • Super Best of (1999)
  • Big in Jamaica (2000), Music Club – Inner Circle and Jacob Miller
  • Jah Jah People (2000), Metrodome
  • It's Da Non Stop Best Of Inner Circle (2001), WEA Japan
  • Kool Operator (2002)
  • This Is Crucial Reggae (2004), RAS
  • Forward Jah Jah Children (2004), Trojan
  • Mixed Up Moods (2005), Absord Japan
  • It's Da Best of Inner Circle (2007), WEA Japan
  • Da Covers!! It's Da New Best of Inner Circle (2008), WEA Japan
  • Blazzin Fire (2010), DubShot
  • The Best of Inner Circle: Everything Is Great (2014), Island

Live albums[edit]

  • Forward Jah Jah People: Highlights from the 5th Cartagena Festival (2006), Charly



Year Single Peak positions Album Notes
1970 "Why Can't I Touch You" with "The Chosen Few"
1972 "I See You" Funky Brown and the Inner Circle Band
1973 "Dog and Bone" Hebrew Childrens & Inner Circles
1974 "Duppy Gunman" Rock the Boat
"You Make Me Feel Brand New" as Inner Circles
"Can You Handle It?" Blame It on the Sun
1975 "Your Kiss Is Sweet"
1976 "Jah Music" Reggae Thing
"Tired Fe Lick Weed in a Bush" split singles with Jacob Miller
1977 "All Night Till Daylight / Greater Light Dub" single only
1979 "Everything Is Great" 37 Everything Is Great
"Music Machine" 28 Germany/Netherlands only
"Stop Breaking My Heart" 50
"Mary Mary" 38
"We a Rockers"
"-" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


Year Single Album Notes
1980 "We Come to Rock You" New Age Music
"New Age Music"
"Discipline Child"
"Summer in the City"
1982 "Something So Good" Something So Good
1986 "Groovin' In Love" singles only UK only
"Computer Style" Jamaica only
"Massive Girl"
"Reggae Beat Box" US only
1987 "Never Can Say Goodbye"
"One Way" One Way
1989 "Black & White" Identified
"Bad Boys" US only (theme from the TV show "Cops")
There were no charting singles in this period.


Year Single Peak positions Album Notes

1990 "Bad Boys" 2 1 Black Roses Europe only
1991 "Black Roses"
1992 "Sweat (A La La La La Long)" 1 1 12 1 2 1 2 8 43 Bad to the Bone Europe only
"Rock with You" 7 3 27 8 5 7 38
1993 "Bad to the Bone" 47
"Wrapped Up in Your Love" 50
"Bad Boys" 8 58 25 5 35 21 26 52 Bad Boys reissue
"Sweat (A La La La La Long)" 16 73 2 1 3 3
"Rock with You" 98 13
1994 "Hit and Run" I Believe Sandy Reed featuring Inner Circle
"Games People Play" 84 4 8 12 27 11 7 7 67 Reggae Dancer
"Summer Jammin'" 12
1995 "Whip It (With My Love)"
"Black Roses"
1996 "Da Bomb" 8 55 20 7 Da Bomb
"I Think I Love You"
1997 "Tell Me" 19 38
1998 "Ob-la-di Ob-la-da" 6 single only
"Not About Romance" 92 Speak My Language
"-" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

2000s and 2010s[edit]

Year Single Album Notes
2004 "Sweat (A La La La La Long) 2004" featuring Lady Saw
"Don't Quit"
"Forward Jah Jah Children"
2005 "One Day Christian"
"Girls Wild All Over the World"
20?? "Too Much Blood a Run" with Junior Reid
20?? "Beg a Little Piece" with Mr Vegas
2010 "Candy Girl" State of da World featuring Flo Rida
"No Cocaine" Slightly Stoopid and Inner Circle
There are no charting singles in this period.


  1. ^ Moskowitz, David V. (2006) Caribbean Popular Music: an Encyclopedia of Reggae, Mento, Ska, Rock Steady, and Dancehall, Greenwood Press, ISBN 0-313-33158-8, p.148
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Thompson, Dave (2002) Reggae & Caribbean Music, Backbeat Books, ISBN 0-87930-655-6, p. 121-4, 442
  3. ^ Lane, Sarah (1980) "Florida Challenge for Jamaicans: Top Ranking Sounds Struggling for U.S. Recognition", Billboard, 6 December 1980, p. 27, retrieved 9 September 2012
  4. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 269. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  5. ^ Barrow, Steve & Dalton, Peter (2004) The Rough Guide to Reggae, 3rd edn., Rough Guides, ISBN 1-84353-329-4, p. 200, 242
  6. ^ "Reggaepedia / Twinkle Brothers". Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c Walker, Klive (2005) Dubwise, Insomniac Press, ISBN 978-1894663960, p. 203
  8. ^ Benarde, Scott (1993), "Reggae in music's inner circle: Boys of 'COPS' TV theme start to make it big", Austin American-Statesman, 16 December 1993, p. 14
  9. ^ Bass, Debra (1994) "Inner Circle: Bad Boys are Back", Vibe, November 1994, p. 80, retrieved 9 September 2012
  10. ^ "Top 100 Music Hits, Top 100 Music Charts, Top 100 Songs & The Hot 100". 21 August 1993. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  11. ^ Schneider, Christopher J. "The Ringtone as an Identity Management Device", in Denzin, Norman K. (ed.) (2009) Studies in Symbolic Interaction: 33, Emerald Group, ISBN 978-1848557840, p. 42
  12. ^ Nall, Jeff (2006) "Inner Circle has unique world view", Florida Today, 24 November 2006, p. G20
  13. ^ Reynolds, J.R. (1994) "Inner Circle Had "Sweat" Success in Europe Before Copping a U.S. Hit", Billboard, 16 July 1994, p. 22, retrieved 9 September 2012
  14. ^ a b Daley, Dan (1998) "When a Studio's All in the Family: Creating the Right Vibe with Inner Circle", Billboard, 25 April 1998, p. 44, retrieved 9 September 2012
  15. ^ Martinez, Gerald (1999) "Reviews: Inner Circle – Jamaika Me Crazy", New Straits Times, 27 September 1998, p. 13, retrieved 9 September 2012
  16. ^ Duperly, Howard (2000) "Inner Circle album getting South Florida concert launch", Caribbean Today, 30 September 2000, retrieved 9 September 2012  – via HighBeam (subscription required)
  17. ^ a b McCallister, Jared (2009) "'Bad Boys' band Inner Circle comes 'round with new album, 'State of Da World'", New York Daily News, 26 September 2009, retrieved 9 September 2012
  18. ^ Campbell, Howard (2009) "Inner Circle in a 'State'", The Weekly Gleaner, 2 July 2009, retrieved 9 September 2012  – via HighBeam (subscription required)
  19. ^ Campbell-Livingston, Cecelia (2012) "Bad Boys to Reggae's Rescue", Jamaica Observer, 21 August 2012, retrieved 1 September 2012
  20. ^ "HEAR THIS: Inner Circle & Peetah Morgan "Broken Hearted"". Boomshots. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  21. ^ Campbell, Howard (2014) "Inner Circle Reaches Out", Jamaica Observer, 4 March 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2014
  22. ^ "Inner Circle For Rebel Salute", Jamaica Gleaner, 15 December 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2014
  23. ^ Inner Circle(Link redirected to OCC website), Chart Archive, retrieved 10 September 2012
  24. ^ a b "Inner Circle – Dutch Chart". Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  25. ^ a b "Official Charts Company: Inner Circle". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  26. ^ "Inner Circle – US Hot 100 Chart". Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  27. ^ "Inner Circle – US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  28. ^ "Inner Circle – Australian Chart". Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  29. ^ "Inner Circle – New Zealand Chart". Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  30. ^ "Inner Circle – Belgian Chart". Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  31. ^ "Inner Circle – French Chart". Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  32. ^ "Inner Circle – German Chart". Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  33. ^ "Inner Circle – Austrian Chart". Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  34. ^ "Inner Circle – Swiss Chart". Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  35. ^ "Inner Circle – Swedish Chart". Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  36. ^ "Inner Circle – Norwegian Chart". Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  37. ^ "Inner Circle – Irish Chart". IRMA 2006–2008. Retrieved 12 April 2014. 

External links[edit]