On Friday, November 17th 2000, the news of Bim Sherman's death - one of the true unsung heroes of roots music as well as reggae's most enduring cult figures - reached the reggae massive worldwide. After he got injured as a result of a fall, Bim Sherman was admitted to hospital where, on examination, he was found to have cancer. Then health matters didn't go well and within one week he passed away. It is obvious that his unexpected sudden death is a great lost for his family and friends. But be convinced that Bim Sherman's many committed fans, who supported the artist and his music for two and a half decades by now, are also mourning for the lost of this truly very underrated, extremely talented and diverse artist.
Singer/songwriter Bim Sherman, whose aliases include Jarrett Tomlinson, Jarrett Vincent, Lloyd Vincent, J.L. Vincent, Bim Shieman and Lloyd Tomlinson was born on the island of Jamaica in 1952. Bim Sherman belonged to a generation dreadlocked singers, who emerged in the mid-seventies to express the Rasta vision of Babylon's fall and corresponding redemption for the righteous through their roots reggae music. Almost from the very first start of his recording career Bim Sherman showcased his wilfulness, which turned out to be a strong force for this man's unique approach of the music and its business. Unlike many of his contemporaries, who mainly recorded for a certain producer or even a variety of producers, Bim Sherman scraped enough money together to record almost an entire oeuvre on self-financed labels like "Scorpio", "Red Sea" and "Sun Dew". Occasionally Bim Sherman also cut songs for local producers Dudley Swabey, Prince Far I, Jah Lloyd (aka Jah Lion) and Jah Woosh.
Photo taken from
sleeve "Love Forever" (EFA 2000)
The singer with the amazingly ethereal and entrancing voice impressed most with his late-1970s titles, "Tribulation", "World Go Round" and "Danger" as well as "Mighty Ruler", the latter appearing on Dudley Swabey's "Ja-Man" imprint. Because of his restricted finances, Bim Sherman often used each riddim track for two different songs. However it were his writing skills and plaintive vocals which ensured that every piece sounded fresh. Some of those 7" sides became available in the UK on 12" pressings, compiling the A and B sides of two original JA releases on one 12". Often the same song would appear on different issues and releases with different titles (for example, "Fit To Survive" and "Tribulation", "World Of Dispensation" and "Revolution", and "Blacker Sound", "Black Jah Jah Sound" and "Ever Firm").
In 1978, eight of Bim Sherman's "Scorpio"/"Red Sea" singles, together with the tunes "Mighty Ruler" and "Ever Firm", were compiled for "Love Forever", an album that was released by UK based sound system operator Lloyd Coxsone on his own "Tribesman" label. This truly classic and unmissable late-1970 roots album was followed by the 1979 released "Lovers Leap". Another consistently strong collection, actually a showcase style album of vocals followed by the dub versions. A year later Bim Sherman was featured on one side of the album "Bim Sherman Meets Horace Andy And U Black", a minor but robust and enjoyable set. In the early eighties Bim Sherman settled in the UK where he teamed up with producer Adrian Sherwood. It marked the beginning of a fruitful association as Sherman started to record for Sherwood's "On-U-Sound" label. In 1982 Sherwood produced "Across The Red Sea", an enjoyable set but not the sensation for which followers of both had hoped.
Bim Sherman at "Reggae 2000",
Geel Belgium. Photo : Teacher.

Throughout the eighties and early nineties he was a featured vocalist on the highly acclaimed, Sherwood-produced "Singers And Players" series of albums for which he sometimes would record new versions of his old material. In 1984, Bim Sherman started "Century Records", originally through On-U Sound, and released two albums : "Bim Sherman And The Voluntary" and "Danger". "Century Records" then stopped releasing material, and Sherman's products started to appear on RDL, the "Revolver Distribution Label". Albums to appear on this label included "African Rubber Dub" (RDL/Revolver 1987), "Haunting Ground" (RDL/Revolver 1989) and "Exploitation" (RDL/Revolver 1989). Towards the nineties Century became operational again, with straight reissues of the RDL releases and with compilation CDs featuring tracks from the RDL albums. Subsequent Sherman releases were on Century, often featuring On-U-Sound musicians. Although Bim Sherman had a lot of devoted fans in the UK and Europe, it lasted two decades after he started his recording career before he finally made a commercial breakthrough in the UK charts. It was the release of Bim Sherman's acoustic masterpiece "Miracle" - released on Beggars Banquent Records' offshoot "Mantra" in 1996 - that made things happen for Sherman. The album brings together disparate elements - 'playback' strings orchestrated by Suraj Sathe, Talvin Singh's tabla's, former Sugarhill sessioneers (guitarist Skip McDonald and bassist Doug Wimbish) and Sherman's meditative lovers and cultural songs. The lack of a conventional drum kit is barely noticed, and yet this is still recognizably reggae, albeit of a uniquely mutated kind. Dance producer Steve Osbourne took the album track "Solid As A Rock" and made a remix. After it was released on single it scaled the UK charts and helped to re-energize Sherman's career. The next year saw the release of another strong Bim Sherman album entitled "It Must Be A Dream", a collection of remixes.



Bim Sherman at "Reggae 2000", Geel Belgium. Photo : Teacher.

Some three months ago we were lucky to capture Bim Sherman's performance at the "Reggae 2000" festival in Geel, Belgium. In the first part of his set he mainly concentrated on his more recent work including tunes from "Miracle" and "It Must Be A Dream". Then, as he went back to the early years of his career, the music became more up-tempo and the backing "heavier". The deliverance of "Mighty Ruler" was definitely one of the highlights of Bim Sherman's performance. Hard to believe that this unique singer/songwriter will never appear on stage again, however, his music will live on forever!

Selective Discography : Albums

  • Love Forever (Tribesman 1978)
  • Lovers Leap (Scorpio 1979)
  • Bim Sherman Meets Horace Andy And U Black, (Yard International 1982)
  • Across The Red Sea, (On-U-Sound 1982)
  • Bim Sherman And The Voluntary, (Century 1984)
  • Danger, (Century 1984)
  • African Rubber Dub, (RDL 1987)
  • Haunting Ground, (RDL/Revolver 1989)
  • Exploitation, (RDL/Revolver 1989)
  • Too Hot, (Century 1990)
  • Matrix Dub, (Century 1990)
  • Crucial Cuts Vol. 1, (Century 1990)
  • Crucial Cuts Vol. 2, (Century 1990)
  • African Rubber Dub Vol. 2, (Century 1991)
  • Crazy World, (Century 1992)
  • Reality, (Century 1992)
  • Winey Winey (Century 1992)
  • Lion Heart Dub, (Century 1993)
  • The Justice League Of Zion, (1994)
  • Wash Wash (With Groove Corporation), (Century 1995)
  • Miracle, (Mantra 1996)
  • It Must Be A Dream, (Mantra 1997)
  • Raw Raw Dub - African Rubber Dub Vol. 3, (Century 1993)
  • Taken Off (Best Of), (Century 1999)
  • Love Forever - The Classic Jamaican Recordings, (EFA/Century 1999)
  • Rub-A-Dub, (EFA/Century 2000)

Selective Discography : JA 7" Singles

  • Love Forever, (Red Sea)
  • Ital West, (Red Sea)
  • Keep On Trying, (Red Sea)
  • Danger, (Santic)
  • Weak Heart Men, (Santic)
  • Golden Locks, (Scorpio)
  • Golden Stool, (Scorpio)
  • My Brethren, (Scorpio)
  • Valley Of Tears, (Scorpio)
  • My Whole World, (Scorpio)
  • Blacker Sound, (Scorpio)
  • Mighty Ruler, (Ja Man)
  • World Of Dispensation, (Scorpio)

Article: Teacher & Mr. T. Photos: Teacher
Sources: "The Rough Guide To Reggae", "The Virgin Encyclopedia Of Reggae" & "Nightmare Dub" - A Bim Sherman Discography by Richard Davies and Culfinion.




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