Bob conquers Babylon

Entertainment

Bob conquers Babylon

BY BRIAN BONITTO
Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment
bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, March 30, 2020

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In 1978, film-maker Lennie Little-White took a gamble and cast Bob Andy as lead opposite actress Leonie Forbes in the movie Children of Babylon.

He feels the decision not only paid off, but showed another side of the singer's creative talent.

“Bob Andy had no previous [acting] experience, but was a natural; very easy to work with. He was attractive and good looking. Working with Leonie [Forbes], the two were a dream team,” Little-White told the Jamaica Observer. “As a singer, he took his lines like a song... therefore, the body language was easy for him. He read a lot and saw himself as an intellect.”

Andy died last Friday morning at his daughter's residence in Stony Hill, St Andrew. The 75-year-old artiste had been battling pancreatic cancer.

He was cast as Luke, a farm hand, while Forbes played Dorcas, the housekeeper. Children of Babylon also starred Tobi Phillips (Penny), Don Parchment (Rick, an artiste), and Elizabeth De Lisser (Laura, a plantation owner). Chappie St Juste was director of photography.

Released in 1980, Children of Babylon's scene were shot at a 3,000-acre great house in Bounty Hall, Trelawny, and in Kingston.

“It was what was happening at the time under Prime Minister Michael Manley's democratic socialism in 1978; every downtown dread wanted an uptown girl and every uptown girl wanted a downtown dread” said Little-White. “It was also playing out in real life with Bob Marley and Cindy [Breakspeare] and with Bob Andy, who was dating one of my employees at the time.”

Little-White recalled that it was during a visit by Andy to his office, he got to know the singer, who eventually inspired the movie.

“I wanted to do a movie when I came back from graduate school, North Western University in Chicago and started Mediamix ... and Bob and I became friends. He used to tell me stories of his journey... as well as those of the inner-city man, who wanted an uptown girl to make the transition uptown. It inspired the movie,” he said.

The film-maker chuckled as he fondly remembers shooting the love scenes.

“He (Andy) refused to take off his underpants. He refused to be naked,” he said.

Little-White believes Andy did justice to his role and the investment was a good one.

“Perry Henzell [director of The Harder They Come] and I used to travel together showing our films in various countries: England, Spain, France, United States [and] Martinique,” he said.

“They use Children of Babylon and The Harder They Come as two essays of Jamaica.”

As a singer, Bob Andy (given name Keith Anderson) is known for songs including Check It Out, Fire Burning, and Going Home. He also penned a number of classics,including Truly, Feel Like Jumping, and Mark My Word for singer Marcia Griffiths.

In 2006, he was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican Government for his contribution to the country's music.


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