The Gladiators have been masters of the reggae arena for the past 30 years. After the rise and fall of many reggae artists and bands, they remain one of the most influential reggae groups to date. The group's original leader, Albert Griffiths, formed the legendary band - whose name was suggested to him on a bus by a fellow traveler who had just seen the movie "Ben Hur." The concept of men who fought for their liberty against Babylon immediately struck a chord with Albert and remains a testament today of the difficult life and struggle of Jamaica. The Gladiators have proven on stage and in the studio that they are without a doubt one of the best and most enduring original real roots, rock reggae bands.
The unique sound of The Gladiators started with Albert Griffiths who was born in the parish of St. Elizabeth in the Jamaican countryside and grew up in poverty in Trench Town. In 1968 The Gladiators were born as a trio including David Webber and Errol Grandison recording for Clive Chin and Duke Reid but it was with Coxone Dodd that "Hello Carol" topped the Jamaican chart in 1968. Webber and Grandison were unable to continue with the group and Clinton Fearon came on board and The Gladiators became a duo. With Griffiths also being employed as a guitarist at Studio One and Fearon joining him on bass, the pair backed artists like Burning Spear and Stranger Cole in the late `60s. Griffiths eventually chose Gallimore Sutherland to make the group a trio again.
During the 1970s, The Gladiators continued racking up hits like "Freedom Train," "Rock a Man Soul," "Roots Natty," "Bongo Red," and "Jah Jah Go Before Us" in Jamaica and the British underground. In 1974 Vivian "Yabby U" Jackson asked Griffiths and Fearon to provide backing for his "Jah Vengeance" album at Lee "Scratch" Perry's Black Ark studios which brought in further work in this studio. In 1976 The Gladiators signed a deal with Virgin Records in Britain resulting in the essential "Trenchtown Mix Up." album.
By the early `80s, roots bands were becoming an expiring lot, but The Gladiators continued to release excellent albums on various U.S. labels. They continued recording high-quality albums through the `90s. Even the departure of Fearon during this period could not extinguish The Gladiators' spirit or Griffiths' drive. Like The Wailers, The Gladiators are one of the very few reggae bands to not only survive but succeed over the decades despite changes in members, and maintain their unique sound and message. They are one of the rare Jamaican groups that are actually a band in the true sense of the word and have a distinct style that shines forth regardless of the circumstances. Griffiths' lyrics, filled with biblical passages and parables, are equally notable.
In 2005 The Gladiators continue with the fresh new "Father and Sons" album recorded in Jamaica still faithful to their roots compositions delivering reggae music full of heart, force and courage. Featuring Albert Griffiths' two sons, Anthony on drums and Al sharing lead vocals, "Father and Sons" is a gripping reflection on life, love and faith.
Currently Albert is in the process of turning The Gladiators over to his two sons he knows are capable of carrying on this musical heritage. With Anthony on drums setting the pace for the band and Al's voice, which is virtually indistinguishable from his father's, these two young reggae warriors have proven both live and in the studio that they are fully competent and are infusing a new, youthful energy and substance to carry The Gladiators' legacy into the future. The "New" Gladiators have already garnered tremendous response touring throughout Europe, Brazil, the South Pacific and Australia to as many as 70,000 fans in mostly sold-out shows. They are poised and ready to spread their message to the rest of the world!