About Third World
After 33 years of smash hit songs, sold- out tours and inspirational messages, one may wonder, “Where did it all begin? What gives Third World the staying power so rare in the music industry?”
Third World is more than just one of the top Reggae bands of all time, it is an institution. An institution that stands for producing and performing music that, while holding firm to the cultural and ancestral roots of it’s members, still pushes forward the cutting edge of music worldwide. It is an institution whose themes are positive, progressive and internationally relevant.
Formed in 1973, Third World is committed to the excellence of reggae music by combining Jamaican Reggae and Folk music with all strains of African Rhythms, American Pop, Rhythm & Blues, Rap and Classical music. Third World is one of the longest running and most diverse bands Jamaica has ever produced.
Born out of a drive to write and perform original material incorporating reggae, rock and funk, and a desire to tour and take music to a wider audience, Third World was conceived.
The year was 1973. A teenaged Guitarist, Cellist and Singer named Stephen ‘Cat’ Coore – then with the Inner Circle Band – left the safety of the ‘Circle’ to pursue this dream. ‘Cat’ and a fellow musician from another band, conceived and launched the band Third World.
Soon they were joined by Michael ‘Ibo’ Cooper on keyboards and vocals, and recruited bassist, Richie Daley, drummer Carl Barovier, Irvin ‘Carrot’ Jarrett on percussion and on lead vocals, Milton ‘Prilly’ Hamilton. Their Kingston premiere in 1974 playing reggae and funk, earned them great reviews and gigs, as they were the only group of that era composed of young, talented, trained instrumentalists who could sing and would take chances on musical grounds others feared to tread.
A few months later, they were opening for the Jackson Five at the Jamaican National Stadium, where they stunned the 30,000 plus audience with their versatility and professionalism. Before long, they were playing in England where Island Records’ Chris Blackwell saw them perform. Blackwell immediately offered them a record deal and a slot on a European tour, opening for one of his artistes, Bob Marley and The Wailers.
‘THIRD WORLD’, their debut album in 1976, featured the hypnotic “Satta Amasa Gana”. It was closely followed in 1977 by the legendary album, “96 DEGREES IN THE SHADE”- released to rave reviews in Europe and the U. K. including open salutes to Ras Tafari like “Jah Glory”, Bunny Wailer’s “Dreamland”, and of course, the classic title track, “1865 (96 Degrees In The Shade)”.
This album also heralded the arrival of new drummer, Willie Stewart and of soulful new lead singer, William ‘Bunny Rugs’ Clark (another ex-Inner Circle member). This combination of ‘Rugs’, ‘Richie’, ‘Cat’, ‘Carrot’, ‘Willie’ and ‘Ibo’ proved to be the formula for success as their next album, ‘JOURNEY TO ADDIS’ (1978), spawned the worldwide Top Ten hit “Now That We Found Love” (a disco- Reggae remake of an O’Jays tune).
In 1979 this commercial pattern was furthered by the album ‘THE STORY’S BEEN TOLD’, with tracks like “Talk To Me”, “Irie Ites” and the sweet, swaying “Always Around”. At the dawn of a new decade, Third World released not one but two new projects: their final album with Island, ‘ARISE IN HARMONY’ and also music on the Island soundtrack for the film, ‘PRISONER IN THE STREET’.
But with this dawning swiftly came the shattering closure to the most important chapter in the history of reggae music – the passing of Bob Marley. This closure was marked by two events in particular. The release of Stevie Wonder’s tribute to Marley, “Master Blaster (Jammin’)”; and the salute to Bob by Third World at Reggae Sunsplash that summer, during which Wonder joined Third World onstage to perform “Master Blaster”.
The magic that filled the air that early summer morning was harnessed by Wonder who quickly wrote, produced and arranged Third World’s next international blockbuster, released in 1982, “Try Jah Love”. This song became the group’s anthem, solidifying them in the archives of musical history as the promoters of love and spirituality.
Then there was “Lagos Jump” (1983) – which featured legendary U.S. players like Gerald Albright and the Earth, Wind and Fire horn section – “Sense of Purpose” in 1985 and “Reggae Radio Station” (1987). These singles kept Third World’s seat in the charts warm, until their next smash pounced on the world in 1989, “Forbidden Love”. Co-written by Rupert ‘Gypsy’ Bent III this song illustrated the group’s focus on the outer boundaries of music, incorporating Rap by Daddy-O from Stetsasonic.
Punctuating 20 years as a group, Third World expressed its dedication with the album ‘COMMITTED’ (1993). The songs reaffirmed their roots like the Ska-sound of “Give The People What They Need”, and stretched their limits to incorporate computerized Dancehall, dj grooves and also reggae-fied Hip-Hop in tunes such as “Riddim Haffe Rule”, “Committed” and “Mi Legal”.
This openness to new paths in music led to a crossroads in the evolution of the band in 1997 – the departure of Michael ‘Ibo’ Cooper, and of drummer Willie Stewart, who decided to take their musical development down different avenues.
This void was readily filled by Herbie Harris (formerly with Maxi Priest), who assumed the role of keyboardist and Drummer Tony ‘Ruption’ Williams (formerly with Jimmy Cliff).
Says ‘Cat’ of the new Worl’ers: “To tell you the truth, the new members have adapted very well. When people come to see this new band they may be a bit taken aback. The sound, the way the band is playing now, is the best it’s ever been.”
Remaining one of the Founding Fathers of Reggae, Third World is clearly set to propel itself into the 21st century, affirming that good music and great talent is limitless, bridging the dimensions of culture, of category and of everlasting time.
The group at different times were contracted to Island Records, Columbia Records, Mercury Records, CBS and Third World Productions.
Third World opened for Bob Marley & The Wailers on their 1975 European Tour, and performed on some of his recordings. They have remained a force in keeping Reggae on the international music scene, yet still remaining true to their roots.
To commemorate more than 30 years together Third World launched their annual THIRD WORLD AND FRIENDS concert on the lawns of KINGS HOUSE in Kingston Jamaica in 2004. The concert is held every year on December 27. Third World and friends features many of Jamaica’s greatest musicians such as Gregory Isaacs, Tony Rebel, Damian Marley, Richie Stevens, Beres Hammond, Cocoa Tea, Sly & Robbie and many more.
For more than 33 years Third World has continued to blaze new trails for Reggae Music. The group has traveled around the world several times spreading the message of Peace, Love, & Unity for which they have truly lived up to their title as Reggae Ambassadors.
To date, Third World has released a total of 22 albums as well as solo projects from Lead Singer Bunny Rugs and Guitarist Cat Coore.