Clinton 'Bassie' Fearon plays  the Little Red Church in Comox on Saturday October 10.

Clinton 'Bassie' Fearon plays the Little Red Church in Comox on Saturday October 10.

Reggae Legend Clinton Fearon pushing 50 Years in the music business

Intimate concert at Little Red Church Saturday

By David Owen Rama

Special to The Record

Roots reggae legend Clinton Fearon has had the good fortune of living a life devoted to music. A career that has now lasted almost a half century.

On the phone from Seattle, Fearon talks about how his early years growing up in the country created a foundation of positivity, through a connection with nature, that has permeated the majority of his compositions.

“You know, I grew up in the woods man. In the country. In a little district called Mendez, way in the bush. A simple life. Often time no shirt on. Pick fruit, eat this, eat that. You know, really close to nature.”

A country boy from  St. Catherine Jamaica, Fearon moved to the city of Kingston when he was a teenager. A cultural shock for a young man stepping out of a “backabush” country childhood and landing smack dab into Jamaica’s notorious concrete jungle.

His passion for music became Fearon’s guiding light, and like many aspiring musicians from meager circumstances, Fearon would go to work collecting materials to fashion his own instrument.

Regardless of what sounds like an ideal country upbringing, Fearon admits that he made a clear choice to avoid getting involved in the urban crime that has long plagued the city of Kingston.

“I’ve experienced a rough life still. I remember in Kingston, in the 1970’s, when the politics was hot. No food, youth and youth killing off one another. I could have easily gone there too. Incarceration and so on. But for the love of music, and the love of life, I decided to stick to the music.”

And it was this passion for his guitar that got Fearon noticed in 1969 by Errol Grandisson, a member of the now legendary roots reggae band The Gladiators.

Grandisson had encountered Fearon playing guitar in his yard and convinced the young construction worker to come join the band.

For his role in The Gladiators, Fearon provided vocal harmonies and went on to compose many songs for the group. He also held down the bass duties, which earned the young musician the nickname “Bassie”.

Fearon spent 18 years with The Gladiators, and over time, worked with such reggae heavyweights as Ansel Collins, Sly Dunbar and many of the major players now considered pioneers and veterans of the genre.

In those early days in Jamaica, Fearon also became a notable bassist for hire with many of the Kingston recording studios competing for the charts and sound system audiences.

In addition to recording 15 albums with The Gladiators, Fearon has collaborated with many of the most notorious reggae producers operating during reggae’s formative years. Most notably, Channel One’s Joe Gibbs, Coxone Dodd from Studio One, Duke Reid at Treasure Isle, and the prolific mad man Lee “Scratch” Perry, among others.

After spending almost 20 years establishing a solid foundation in Jamaican reggae music history and touring the world with The Gladiators, Fearon decided to lay down fresh roots in Seattle at the end of The Gladiators’ 1987 American tour.

Once established in the Pacific Northwest, Fearon first put together a band called The Defenders, which he worked with until 1993, when he then dissolved the group and formed a new backing band called The Boogie Brown Band.

Since that time Fearon has gone on to record eight albums with The Boogie Brown Band, including last year’s dazzling Goodness. A recording that pulsates with social consciousness and Fearon’s contagious optimism.

“There is a goodness inside of us, and when it is working, it is so beautiful”, He exclaims with a warmth that is truly genuine.

In recent years Fearon also decided to adopt a stripped down sound on two additional releases. With his 2005 solo acoustic release Mi An Mi Guitar, and on Heart and Soul (2012), a record that revisits some of his old Gladiators compositions, once again, in a bare bones unplugged style.

Fearon credits the original idea to showcase some of his compositions in an acoustic style to late Vancouver Island reggae promoter Brian Delisle.

“I remember long time ago him said Clinton, why don’t you take them Gladiators songs that you did and go out there as a lone Gladiator, you know, and even maybe do it acoustic.”

But it wasn’t until years later, after members of his band also began encouraging the acoustic album concept, did the “idea get thicker and thicker” in Fearon’s mind.

Since the release of Mi An Mi Guitar, Fearon has been dividing up his touring schedule between annual performances with his band at some of Europe’s most prestigious reggae and world music festivals and small intimate acoustic dates in small communities here on the west coast.

You can catch Clinton “Bassie” Fearon live at the Little Red Church in Comox on Saturday October 10th.

Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets at Bop City Records and at the door.

Considered by local Vancouver Island reggae fans as a mystical musical experience that truly demonstrates the craftsmanship of Fearon’s inspiring songwriting, these intimate acoustic performances by this legendary roots reggae ambassador are not to be missed.

Addressing the power and positivity attributed to his songwriting and the spell his songs cast over audiences, particularly in an intimate environment, Fearon confesses his mandate.

“I think we all have the capacity to go for the positive rather than the negative. So, why not help it along?”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cole Moore with one of his sisters, Jasmin Moore. Photo supplied
Courtenay man looks to brain surgery for second chance

Cole Moore’s sister sets up GoFundMe to help father looking after brother

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Nineteen people arrested, charges expected in Courtenay house raid

Investigators are continuing to comb through evidence seized

Demonstrators gathered Friday, March 5 at the Courtenay Court House, demanding protection of old-growth forests. Scott Stanfield photo
Concerned citizens march in Courtenay in name of old-growth rainforests

The Comox Valley is one of the B.C. communities engaged in mobilization… Continue reading

LUSH Valley’s partnership with School District 71 this past year helped feed 200 students and families through the Good Food Box program. Screenshot, LUSH Valley/Comox Valley Schools video
LUSH Valley-Comox Valley School Good Food Boxes fed 200 families in 2020

Non-profit organization is looking for new ways to collaborate with school district

Dr. Sandra Allison and Dr. Charmaine Enns joined school district senior staff for a virtual town hall meeting to address the latest COVID concerns in schools. Image, screenshot
No secondary cases in Comox Valley schools, say health officers

School district hosts virtual town hall to address recent COVID-19 cases in schools

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The CVRD building in Courtenay.
Comox Valley organizations in need receive funding

The Comox Valley Regional Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has approved $55,000 in… Continue reading

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

A virtual public hearing for a rezoning application for a Comox property was held on March 3. Black Press file photo
No comments at public hearing for Anderton Road rezoning application

The virtual public hearing was held on March 3 for the Comox properties

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Most Read