The “Electric Boogie” mega-hit star and renowned Queen of Reggae Marcia Griffiths has spoken out about how she was mistreated and denied the chance to receive royalties from the first version of the mega-hit, on which Bunny Wailer, a renowned legend of the genre and a member of Bob Marley and the Wailers, acted as producer, arranger, and backup vocals.
The song was composed by Bunny Wailer, who passed away in March 2021, and its beat, according to the singer, was made on a rhythm box she purchased after seeing it performed in Canada.
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The Love Is Automatic vocalist claims that when Jah B got around her and took all the royalties, she was unable to profit from the song until Island Records CEO Chris Blackwell stepped in.
Griffiths told broadcaster Tom Powers during an interview on CBC’s podcast in Toronto, Canada, “I would feel better if I was able to make some money from it. But unfortunately, Bunny Wailer claimed a hundred percent from the song and whatever I made from that song is from performances, and thanks to Chris Blackwell, who thought it was so unfair that nothing was given to me. So, I eventually in the end got some performance royalties. But I didn’t get what was due. Nothing at all. And it was from my music that the song was written.”
Griffiths said that the refusal of royalties was “very horrible” and called Wailer’s alleged behavior “gravalicious.”
“I think it’s unfair and I think its selfish and greed, you know. Because there is enough there for everyone, so it’s just greed,” she noted.
Griffiths, who claimed to have known the Wailer since kindergarten, revealed that despite Chris Blackwell’s advice for her to record a different version of the song in order to receive her own royalties, she still had the Ballroom Floor singer’s best interests at heart and had no desire to criticize or exclude him.
The disappointed “I Shall Sing” singer claimed that when she went to see Bunny to ask him to take part in the official music video Blackwell had advised she make, she had the shock of her life.
“Well I went in the studio with the Miami Sound Machine and we re-recorded the song with Chris Blackwell’s advice and originally I was looking for Bunny Wailer to do the video with me, because Bunny has a major part in that song where he does a rap,” she remarked.
Griffith further added, “And if I was going to do a video with the original song it would be Bunny and myself, but while I was searching for Bunny, he was busy in the studio recording over the song for himself; his own version without me. So when I finally found him, he had already done the song and was now doing the video with some dancers. I cannot find the words to tell you how bad I felt.”
However, she claimed that in spite of her displeasure, she went on to assist Bunny in promoting his brand-new solo rendition of the song.
“But good over evil I say, because his version didn’t do anything, even though I took it personally myself and was giving it to all radio stations. But they didn’t know that version and they didn’t love that version. So, it didn’t work out for him,” the reggae legend shared.
When Anthony Miller, an entertainment journalist known for hosting a popular local TV program called “ER”, interviewed Griffiths in February 2021, that is when Griffiths first discussed the production of Electric Boogie.
She had aimed to clear up any confusion about the song’s origins at that time, claiming that several national and international media outlets, including Essence Magazine, had long since mischaracterized it as a cover version she had performed.
When she first released the song, she explained that the rhythm box, which she had purchased while on tour with the I-Threes in the 1980s and for which each backup vocalist was paid 700 Canadian dollars, was the inspiration for the song.
The now 73-year-old Reggae singer claimed that after arriving in Jamaica, she had shown Bunny Wailer the box and the two of them had investigated the sounds, various beats, and the repeater, which had immediately captured her attention.
The singer noted in her interview, “he laid one of the beats from the rhythm box with the piano repeater sound, took it to Portland; came back the following day with the song, and he called in Sly and Robbie to do a overdub on what he had recorded form the rhythm box”
Miller had inquired as to how she had profited financially from the song, and Marcia had added that she had not received any royalties for a very long time.
She noted, “That’s a million-dollar question, because apart from performances that I do because I have songs to perform on my catalog, that particular song – nothing was coming from that song. Nothing. It was out of the goodness of Chris Blackwell’s heart; he said it was unfair that I am not earning a dime… So because I said to him: ‘It’s not fair to me to not earning nothing – I mean nothing – and they made some arrangement for me to get some artiste royalty.”