Island Records Founder Reflects on a Friend Who Had Nothing And Still Had Everything

Most reggae fans know the Reggae Cult Classic film Countryman, but it’s less well known that the star of the film is real person. The 1982 film, which will be streamed online next Friday night, December 5th—following an exclusive BoomshotsTV chat with one of the original cast members, veteran Jamaican actor Carl Bradshaw—was directed by Dickie Jobson, and stars a Rastafarian Indian Tamil fisherman who lived in the seaside community of Hellshire outside Kingston, Jamaica. Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, who backed the film project, reflects on the man he knew, a real Rastaman who truly undersood the meaning of the term Thanksgiving, and embodied it in his simple life and his every word and deed. Video After The Jump…

“I was introduced to him by my best friend, Dickie Jobson, and two other friends, Sally and Perry Henzel, who did the film The Harder They Come,” Blackwell remembers. “Countryman escaped from his home when he was five or six and grew up on his own in the swamp in a very isolated part of Jamaica. When we met him he was very cheerful, very bright. He had little or nothing. He lived on the beach, he had a sheet of zinc over the roof. We came one time and found the zinc wasn’t there because his wife wanted a radio so he sold the piece of zinc in order to get her a radio and now they literally had no roof over their head. But his whole energy was full of joy, not complaining about anything. The fact that he could run barefoot through the swamps, we were saying “This is incredible, we should really do a film with Countryman. Because he is so articulate but is able to be the most basic native type of person.” He was so down-to-earth. One time he really chastised me because I had come to see him but then I had to go. He said where are you going? I said “I’m going to England. Have you ever been to England?” And he said, “No I have everything right here.” Even though he had nothing he was happy with it. He was somehow able to say “I have everything.” That does not normally happen. People have to go through a whole process before they realize that having lots of things is not the answer to life. So everything about him, he was just a truly truly exceptional person.” Sadly, Countryman is now suffering from lung cancer and doctors say they cannot treat him. Next weekend’s screening is a chance for his fans around the world to pay respect to a truly remarkable man who has become a legend within reggae circles thanks to the film named after him.

Chris Blackwell speaks on Countryman

Countryman and Bob Marley (1973) photo by Esther Anderson


Speaking of the film, Blackwell says: “I can’t tell you it’s Gone With The Wind. But Countryman is absolutely fantastic in it. It’s absolutely worth seeing for Countryman. The best scene is “Pass It On” where everybody gets more and more stoned. It’s fantastic.”

A New Countryman Trailer “Natural Mystic”

Blackwell also reveals that the film was loosely based on an experience from his own life when he had a brief encounter with Countryman as a youth:
“I was rescued by a Rastafarian in the ’50s. What happened is that my boat had actually run out of gas and I had a very long trek along the coastline, which was very difficult because it was all mangrove swamps. Eventually I came to a beach and I was literally dying of thirst. I saw this hut and so I called out and this Rastafari looked through the window. In those days everybody was terrorized by Rastafari, They were never aggressive but because they were treated as outcasts, they were considered the most dangerous killers and racists, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. When I saw the Rasfari I was terrified but I was also dying of thirst. He brought me some water and he was so gentle and sweet so I asked him to let me lie in his hut for a while. When I woke up night had fallen and there were seven other Rastas in the room and I was very scared and they were all sitting and reading from the Bible and they read to me from the Bible and then they took me back. Countryman claims that as a little boy he was there.”

The famous “Pass It On” Scene from the film Countryman

Countryman praises Jah Rastafari (2012)

Countryman sings “The Predator” (2012)

Reasoning with Jamaican Screen Legend Carl Bradshaw…

Watch the full movie Countryman

Follow @Boomshots