Jimmy Cliff made his Coachella debut yesterday with a masterful main stage set that included such classics as “The Harder They Come” and “Many Rivers To Cross.” But for Cliff, hearing the crowd sing along to one of the tunes from his newest LP, Sacred Fire, was the day’s highlight.
“I left the stage, and they were still singing ‘One More.’ I love it,” Cliff told Rolling Stone backstage. It’s an impressive feat for the reggae icon, considering that the Coachella crowd consists mostly of twenty-somethings born more than a decade after his Seventies heyday. “One young girl came up to me tonight with about five albums she asked me to sign,” observes Cliff. “She said, ‘My parents were listening to this and they brought me up on this.’ They grew up on the albums. That happens a lot. You see all ages, and I love that.”
Cliff’s renaissance is due in part to his collaboration with Rancid’s Tim Armstrong, who produced Sacred Fire. The inspiration to release a new LP stemmed from his 2010 induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. With a new group of inductees being honored this weekend in Cleveland, Cliff hopes that the same creative urge will strike the Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns ‘N’ Roses.
“There are two things in life: appreciation and encouragement,” says Cliff. “Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is both of those things. People appreciate you for what you’ve done and encourage you. So the encouragement should motivate you, stimulate to create something new. That’s what it has done for me with this new album. I hope to see them do that kind of thing, too.”