On the island of Jamaica, a teenaged Roger Lewis spent four days with an American music icon. The Motown legend gave the youngster his greatest lesson in music.
“In 1969, when I was a very young man, my father sponsored a show with other people to bring Stevie Wonder for the first time to Jamaica,” Lewis said.
Saturday, Lewis and his Grammy Award-winning group Inner Circle play Vinyl Music Hall, 2 Palafox Place. The Jamaican group known as the “Bad Boys of Reggae” scored its biggest hit with the song “Bad Boys.”
Although the encounter with Wonder inspired the young guitarist’s dedication to music, Lewis knew he wanted to be a musician years before their meeting. Lewis’ sister wanted to attend a weekend concert that featured her musician boyfriend, but her father would not let her attend the show unless she agreed to one stipulation: she take along Lewis, her 7-year-old brother.
“She was not very happy,” Lewis said. “But that was the first time in my life I ever saw anything like that. The rest is history for me.”
Lewis formed Inner Circle in 1968 with his brother, bassist Ian. The group went on to record over 20 studio albums and in 1993, earned a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album for “Bad Boys.” The title track was chosen as the theme song for the TV show “Cops” and featured in the hit “Bad Boys” films.
The “Bad Boys” single sold more than 7 million copies worldwide. But ever since those days with Wonder, Lewis has separated money from his music. More than 40 years later, Lewis recalled the lesson and words of Wonder as if the past were now.
“He said to me, ‘Never play music for the money. Never ever even think about the money. Play to be the best and play for the love deep in your heart. And if you become the best, then everything will come along with it.’ ”
Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets for this all-ages show are $15. For tickets and more information, visit www.vinylmusichall.com.
If you read Troy Moon’s weekly column, you know that the longtime PNJ writer gives Merle Haggard the kind of respect that is reserved for presidents, popes and Greek gods. Hold on to your copies of Edith Hamilton’s “Mythology,” because the country legend is playing the Pensacola Saenger Theatre, 118 Palafox Place, on Thursday.
“Merle Haggard is not only the greatest living country vocalist,” Moon wrote in his April 1 column. “He might just be one of the best vocalists — any genre — in all of American music, all time.”
I’ll share a lesson learned when I was a teenager reading his music columns: When Troy Moon says something about music, it doesn’t hurt to listen.
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. There are just a few $68.05 seats available. To order tickets online, visit www.ticketmaster.com. For details, visit www.pensacolasaenger.com