For 50 years, Roger and Ian Lewis have done countless sound checks, tours and recording sessions together. But on November 3, the brothers who co-founded the Inner Circle band in 1968, will share what maybe their most special moment as musicians.
That day, a gala celebrating Inner Circle’s 50th anniversary takes place at the band’s Circle House complex in North Miami. A who’s who of colleagues will be present including early members Ibo Cooper and Steven “Cat” Coore.
Inner Circle completed a four-month world tour in September, encompassing 46 shows mainly in Europe. The trek covered countries like Slovenia, Macedonia and Greece, unfamiliar territories for most reggae acts.
Roger, a rhythm guitarist, is the older of the brothers by two years. He credits the international hit songs, Bad Boys and Sweat (A La La La La Long), for making Inner Circle a perennial feature on the road since the early 1990s when they made an amazing comeback.
“Having those two big songs has got to be the highlight (of our career). Dat take us to places where many other groups might not go ‘cause di people know di songs. Everybody know Sweat, everybody know Bad Boys,” he said.
Bad Boys and Sweat are from the 1992 album Bad Boys which won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album the following year. It helped the Lewis brothers establish a state-of-the-art studio in North Miami where A-list stars like Beyonce and Jay Z, P Diddy, Justin Bieber and Shakira have recorded.
Ian Lewis the band’s bass player, notes that on each show, Inner Circle performs a medley of songs saluting Jacob Miller, the gifted singer who led them on roots classics such as Tenement Yard, Tired Fi Lick Weed In A Bush, Peace Treaty and Disciplined Child.
Miller was just 27 years-old when he died in a motor accident in March, 1980, forcing Inner Circle to take an extended hiatus.
With all the success they have enjoyed in the last 25 years, Ian Lewis is proud they retain a proud Jamaican identity.
“When Puffy and dem so-called New York man come here, dem smell di food wi cook…wi bring dem to Jamaica. Sitting here right now, yuh cyaan tell if yuh dey a Havendale or Maxfield or country,” he said. “Yuh nuh feel like yuh dey a foreign.”