Eddy Grant (born Edmond Montague Grant, 5 March 1948 born in Plaisance, Guyana) is a British reggae musician.
When he was still a young boy, his parents emigrated to London, UK, where he settled. He lived in Kentish Town and went to school at the Acland Burghley Secondary Modern at Tufnell Park. He had his first number-one hit in 1968, when he was the lead guitarist and main songwriter of the multiracial group The Equals, with his self-penned song "Baby Come Back". The tune also later topped the UK Singles Chart again when it was covered by Pato Banton.
Another Equals' hits included "Viva Bobby Joe". In 1971, Grant went home to Guyana following a collapsed lung and heart infection which put him out of action at the beginning of that year. He promptly left The Equals to pursue his solo career.
Also a shrewd businessman, in 1972 he set up the first black-owned recording studio in Europe, Coach House, and began recording his own music on his Ice Records. As a result, he is thought to be the only major recording artist who owns the rights to all his songs. In 1979, Grant scored a hit "Living on the Frontline" under a distribution deal with Columbia Records, which bought the masters to all of his recordings with the Equals and set up a record pressing plant.
In 1981, Grant relocated to Barbados and built the Blue Wave studio complex. Around this time, Grant moved Ice Records distribution in Europe to RCA and recorded the album, Killer on the Rampage. The relationship with RCA proved particularly fruitful as the album would spawn his hits "I Don't Wanna Dance" and "Electric Avenue". Both of these tracks made the UK Top five, with "I Don't Wanna Dance" going to number one in the UK chart in September / October 1982.
In 1991, Grant was the host of the first annual Caribbean Music Awards at the Harlem’s Apollo Theater in New York.
Notably, he openly used his songwriting for political purposes, especially against the then-current apartheid regime of South Africa. The Clash recorded a version of "Police on My Back" for their Sandinista! triple album.
Later, Grant shifted his focus to Ice Records, and began re-issuing recordings by calypso and soca artists, such as the Mighty Sparrow, Roaring Lion, Lord Melody and others. Grant has been married for over 20 years and has four children. He currently splits his time between his studio, label and the Pepperpot Nightclub.
In April 2008, Grant announced his first UK tour for more than 20 years, where he will play London's Bush Hall, Brighton Concorde 2, T in the Park, Cambridge Junction, Norwich Waterfront and the Manchester Academy 2 at the beginning of July, as well as appearances at Glastonbury and Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday celebrations at London's Hyde Park.
He still makes use of any opportunity to voice political concerns, however during an appearance on British radio on 20 June 2008, he would not be drawn on the subject of the plight of the Zimbabwean people, citing a distrust of the way the situation has been reported in the press.
In 1982, his solo recording of "I Don't Wanna Dance" spent three weeks at Number One in the UK Singles Chart. He scored a Top Ten album in the same year, with Killer on the Rampage.
"Electric Avenue" was both a UK and US number 2 hit single in 1983, selling over a million copies. Plus, a later remix of the song was a UK Top Ten hit again in 2001.
In 1984, Grant had a minor hit single in the U.S. with his original song written to accompany the Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner film, Romancing the Stone. Despite being commissioned by the film's producers, all but the guitar solo would be cut from the film during its final edit.The song did not appear on its soundtrack. Grant released the song as a single with the original video that featured scenes from the film until it was re-edited without the Romancing the Stone clips.
His later single, "Gimme Hope Jo'anna", during the apartheid regime ("Joanna" stood for Johannesburg, South Africa) was a song about apartheid in that country, and was subsequently banned by it. Lyrics include:
"Well Joanna she runs a country, she runs in Durban and the Transvaal.
She makes a few of her people happy, she don't care about the rest at all.
She got a system they call apartheid, it keeps a brother in subjection.
But maybe pressure will make Joanna see, how everybody could live as one."
This song was later adapted for use on a commercial for Yop, a commercially available yoghurt-based drink, with the altered lyrics "Give me Yop (me mama?) when the morning come".
Other tracks, such as "War Party" were also political protest songs. "The only decoration is the one upon the graves". "Living on the Front Line" was another. "They got me living on top of my existence, oh appreciating my resistance".
In 2001, Eddy Grant, The Greatest Hits was released. He also appeared at that year's Party in the Park concert.
June 29 2008 Eddy Grant performed at the Glastonbury Festival.
Grant set up his own recording company, Ice Records, but more recently has returned to the West Indies from London, choosing Barbados as a more realistic venue for a recording company, rather than his country of origin. He has also produced for Sting, Mick Jagger and Elvis Costello.