The reggae music around them keeps evolving and they’ve had their share of lead vocalists through the years, but Jamaican legends Inner Circle soldier on, excited to keep the spreading the music and the culture. Inner Circle will be joined by Ashes of Babylon and Flatbroke on Thursday at House of Rock. Doors are at 6:30 p.m.
Brothers Ian and Roger Lewis helped found the group in 1968 and have been with Bernard “Touter” Harvey since 1982 and Lancelot Hall on drums since 1986. The group’s most popular times have been with Jacob Miller from 1974 until his death in 1980 and Carlton Coffie from 1986-94. It was during Coffie’s tenure the group hit its peak with “Bad Boys,” a song recorded on the album “One Way” in 1987, a few years before being used for “Cops,” which recently celebrated 25 years on television. A late lyrical change played in the group’s favor as the TV show gave the song a life of its own.
“‘Bad Boys’ is really about a kid giving his mother and father a hard time,” Ian Lewis told the Virginian-Pilot in 2013. “The original line at the beginning of the song is ‘whatcha gonna do when life comes for you.’ That word got cut out. The song is really saying that no matter where you come from, don’t do the wrong thing. Respect your mother and father. It is not about cops and robbers. I don’t understand the criminal. If you go into a store and rob a clerk, that person is not rich, that person is working. How you going to hurt an innocent person? That’s not cool, that is stupid. Use your mind, come up with better solutions.”
With more than 40 years and and a Grammy award under its belt, Inner Circle still is hungry to produce new music. “Every generation will have its own music. Dancing is good; I like to dance, but as Bob Marley would say, ‘Our bellies are full, but we are still hungry.’ For me, reggae music comes from the struggle of the people. It is a feeling, music. It leaves something in you that’s fulfilling. That is what’s lacking in today’s reggae music. We are losing our culture. We must mentor young people so they don’t forget their roots.”