Jimmy Riley

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Jimmy Ziggy Riley
Riley pictured in 2010
Background information
Birth name Martin James Ziggy Norman Riley
Born (1954-05-22) 22 May 1954 (age 61)
Origin Kingston, Jamaica
Genres Ska, rocksteady, reggae
Instruments Vocalist, Producer
Years active Mid-1960s–present
Associated acts The Sensations, The Uniques, Skin, Flesh and Bones

Jimmy Riley (born Martin James Ziggy Norman Riley, 22 May 1954) is a Jamaican singer who in addition to recording solo has also been a member of the Sensations (Jamaica) and The Uniques and is the father of Tarrus Riley.[1]


Martin James Ziggy Norman Riley also known as Jimmy Riley was born in Jonestown, Kingston, Jamaica on 22 May 1954,[2] Riley grew up in the city's Waterhouse district and attended Kingston Senior School along with Slim Smith.[3] When Smith had success in The Techniques, Riley hung around with the group hoping to join, but was limited to carrying things for them and helping out with harmonies.[3] He decided to form his own group, The Sensations, along with Cornell Campbell, Buster Riley (brother of The Techniques' Winston Riley), and Aaron "Dego" Davis.[3] The Sensations had a successful audition for producer Arthur "Duke" Reid, and the group had mid-1960s success with "Everyday is Just a Holiday" and "Those Guys".[4] On leaving the group in 1967, Riley joined Smith and Lloyd Charmers in the re-formed Uniques, having huge success with songs such as "Watch This Sound" and "My Conversation".[4] When the Uniques split up, Riley initially recorded as a solo artist for Bunny Lee before moving away to record independently. He began producing his own recordings and others by artists such as Slim Smith and Delroy Wilson.[4] He had several hits in the 1970s, including "Tell The Youths The Truth", "Nyah Bingi", and "Clean up the Streets", and continued to be successful in the 1980s, working with Sly & Robbie's Taxi productions. In 1983, Riley topped the UK reggae chart with his version of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing".[2][4] In the late 1980s, Riley moved to Miami, and put his career on hold, but returned to Jamaica in the early 1990s.

Riley's son Tarrus followed him into music and the success of Tarrus gave a boost to Jimmy's career.[5] They have performed together several times, headlining a number of festivals including the Ocho Rios Seafood Festival in 2007.[6] Jimmy Riley's album release in 2008 Sly and Robbie Presents Jimmy Riley: Pull Up Selector saw him again working with Sly & Robbie, and features Tarrus on the title track, which was also released as a single in 2008.[7]

In September 2013 he released the album Contradiction, that featured guest appearances from his son Tarrus, Sizzla, and Fantan Mojah.[8]


  • Tell The Youths The Truth (1978), Trojan
  • Majority Rule (1978), Burning Sounds
  • Makossa International Records Presents Jimmy Riley (1978), Makossa International
  • The Jimmy Riley Showcase (1978), Burning Sounds/Yes/Makossa International
  • Rydim Driven (1981), Taxi aka Love & Devotion (2000), Rhino
  • Put The People First (1982), Shanachie
  • Magic (1984), Imp
  • World for Everyone (1985)
  • Love Fa Real (1995),
  • Attention (1996), Abraham
  • Rock On (1998), Charm
  • Someone Like You (1998), Nyam Up
  • Love Canticle (2000), Charm
  • Jimmy Riley Now (2001), Jet Star
  • Sly and Robbie Presents Jimmy Riley: Pull Up Selector (2009), Taxi
  • Contradiction (2013) VP
  • 20 Classic Hits (1993), Sonic Sounds
  • Live It To Know It (2015), Self productions, Protest Songs & Dub Plates 1975 - 1985: Pressure Sounds


  1. ^ Kenner, Rob (2009) "Reggae Singer With a Legacy, a Following and a Mission", New York Times, 21 August 2009, retrieved 31 August 2009
  2. ^ a b Leggett, Steve "Jimmy Riley Biography", Allmusic, Macrovision Corporation
  3. ^ a b c Katz, David (2003) Solid Foundation: an Oral History of Reggae, Bloomsbury, ISBN 0-7475-6847-2, p. 87
  4. ^ a b c d Larkin, Colin (1998) The Virgin Encyclopedia of Reggae, Virgin Books, ISBN 0-7535-0242-9, p. 251
  5. ^ Evans, Teino (2007) "Son’s success boosts Jimmy Riley", Jamaica Gleaner, 22 July 2007, retrieved 31 August 2009
  6. ^ "Tarrus, Jimmy Riley headline Ocho Rios Seafood Festival", Jamaica Gleaner, 17 July 2007, retrieved 31 August 2009
  7. ^ Cooke, Mel (28 January 2009). "Jimmy Riley presents combination of eras". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 31 August 2009. 
  8. ^ Campbell, Howard (2013) "Riley Exposes Contradiction", Jamaica Observer, 17 October 2013. Retrieved 18 October 2013

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